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Iron is an important mineral that plays a role in several metabolic processes in the body. Home iron tests allow a person to check their iron levels without a doctor’s appointment.
Please note that the author has not tested these products. All information is research based.
Iron is an important mineral for the body. Research has shown that iron plays an important role in several metabolic processes, including the transport of oxygen in the blood, DNA production, and electron transfer.
There are two forms of food iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is a more absorbable form of this mineral and comes from animal sources such as meat, poultry, and seafood. Non-heme iron is less absorbable and comes from plant sources and foods fortified with iron.
Learn more about iron.
Insufficient dietary iron intake can lead to iron deficiency. People who are menstruating, pregnant, or breastfeeding need more iron, so they are more likely to be iron deficient.
Certain health conditions can prevent a person from absorbing the iron they consume, including:
Iron tests can check how much iron is in the blood. The results may indicate that a person has too little, too much, or a normal amount of this mineral.
An iron test is often only one component of a general blood test, as lab technicians can perform multiple tests on the same blood sample. When a doctor orders an iron test, they will often order multiple tests at the same time. The combined results can help a doctor determine whether a person has low, normal, or high levels of iron in their blood.
Iron tests can include:
- Transferrin test: This test measures the amount of transferrin, a protein that carries iron, in the blood.
- Serum iron test: The serum iron test measures the iron level in the liquid part of the blood.
- Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC) Test: The TIBC test checks how well iron binds to transferrin and other proteins.
- Ferritin test: This test measures the amount of iron that the body stores.
It’s important to note that because ferritin is a marker of inflammation, certain conditions – such as chronic kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, and metabolic syndrome – can cause test results to be incorrectly normal or elevated. If a ferritin test shows normal iron levels but a person has symptoms of iron deficiency, they should have additional tests.
Alternatively, a person can opt for a home test kit that will perform more than one of the tests listed above.
Iron tests return a result that tells a person whether their iron level is normal, low, or high. Low iron levels indicate a possible iron deficiency, while high levels indicate iron overload.
Iron deficiency occurs when a person does not have enough iron in their body. It can lead to iron deficiency anemia.
Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include:
Learn more about iron deficiency anemia.
If a person gets test results that indicate low iron levels or have symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, they should contact a doctor for further advice and treatment.
If a person ingests too much iron, there is a risk of iron overload. Iron deposits increase in the liver, heart and endocrine glands and can cause organ damage.
Signs and symptoms of iron overload include:
Iron overload can be either primary or secondary, with the primary form being more common. Primary iron overload is inheritable, meaning it can be passed from parents to their children. However, a person will only experience symptoms if they receive a copy of the faulty gene from each parent.
Secondary iron overload can result from excessive dietary protein consumption, long-term kidney dialysis, certain types of anemia, or chronic liver disease.
Learn more about iron overload.
If the test results show high iron levels or symptoms of iron overload occur, a person should contact a doctor for further advice and treatment.
Several companies sell iron tests for the home. Some tests may require a person to go to a laboratory to provide the blood sample.
LetsGetChecked iron test
LetsGetChecked offers several health-related tests for home use, including an iron test. This test requires that a person collect blood via a finger prick.
This product tests on:
- Transferrin saturation
Once a person has purchased the test, they must register it through the LetsGetChecked website. The test includes all the necessary equipment and instructions. After taking a blood sample, the person must send it back in the pre-paid envelope.
LetsGetChecked states that people will get their test results within 5 days via a secure app. If a person’s results suggest iron deficiency or iron overload, the LetsGetChecked nurses will call them to discuss next steps.
The company uses laboratories approved by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) to test the samples.
LetsGetChecked accepts Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA).
At the time of writing, LetsGetChecked’s iron test is $ 99. People can get a 30% discount by subscribing to an iron test every 3 months.
Lab.me Advanced Ferritin Test
This ferritin test measures how well the body stores iron. It uses a finger stitch collection method.
Lab.me includes an instructional video that the customer can watch to learn how to take their sample. After a person has taken their sample, they send it to the company in a stamped envelope.
The company says people get their results within 48 hours, along with personalized reports, test recommendations, and lifestyle advice.
Lab.me uses CAP-accredited laboratories to process the blood samples.
At the time of publication, the Lab.me Advanced Ferritin Test is priced at $ 59. People who want to test their values regularly can save 5% or 10% by signing up for a test every 6 or 3 months.
Cerascreen Ferritin Test
This test also measures how well the body stores iron. Cerascreen states that it is not suitable for people with HIV or hemophilia. Pregnant or breastfeeding people should speak to their doctor before using this test.
Once a person orders this ferritin test, they must get a blood sample with a finger prick. You must then send the sample back to the company in a stamped envelope. Users can access their test results through the Cerascreen website or app.
Cerascreen offers same day shipping if a person orders before 2:00 p.m. EST. The company states that the average delivery time is 4-6 days.
The company uses CLIA-approved laboratories to test the blood samples.
At the time of publication, the Cerascreen Ferritin Test has a retail price of $ 89.
Pixel by Labcorp Ferritin Blood Test
Pixel by Labcorp offers a variety of test kits for the home, including one that checks ferritin levels.
When a person orders this test, they must go to a Labcorp laboratory with photo ID and an order form. A trained technician will take a blood sample.
Pixel by Labcorp states that users will receive their test results through its website within 2 days. If a test result suggests immediate attention is needed, the company will call the person for advice.
Pixel by Labcorp accepts HSAs and FSAs.
At the time of writing, the Pixel by Labcorp ferritin blood test is $ 38.
A person should interpret their results with the help of a doctor. If a blood test shows a person’s iron levels are too high or too low, a doctor can offer advice and recommend treatment options.
People should also see a doctor if they have any worrying symptoms, even if a blood test shows their iron levels are within normal ranges.
Below are some common questions about doing an iron test at home.
How do I use an iron test at home?
Home test kits provide instructions on how to collect a sample. People should carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure an accurate result.
However, many home tests require the following steps:
- Order a kit online or from a local pharmacy.
- Use the test materials provided to perform a finger prick.
- Collect a blood sample.
- Send the sample to a laboratory.
- Wait for the results.
The company providing the test kit notifies a person of their test results through their website or app. Some companies offer follow-up phone calls to discuss results that show low or high iron levels.
A person should discuss their results with a doctor for advice and information about treatment options.
Are Home Iron Tests Accurate?
Home iron tests can be accurate. Users should follow all instructions to ensure they are providing a valid sample.
Some people may want to purchase at home tests that process samples in CLIA-approved or CAP-accredited laboratories. When a company sends the samples to these laboratories, it means the technicians are following guidelines that reduce the risk of invalid test results.
Iron tests measure the amount of iron in the blood and how well the body absorbs it. The results may indicate iron deficiency or iron overload.
Home tests can look for markers similar to a blood test a doctor might order. When performing an iron test at home, a person should carefully follow all instructions and see a doctor if they get abnormal results.