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In-person lab tests:
- Most affordable ferritin test: Labcorp On Demand Ferritin Blood Test | Skip to review
- Most comprehensive anemia test: Labcorp On Demand Anemia Blood Test | Skip to review
At-home test kit:
Having either too much iron (hemochromatosis) or too little iron (iron deficiency anemia) can cause unpleasant symptoms and have a serious impact on health. Thankfully, a simple iron test can help you figure out where you stand.
Usually, your doctor will order a lab test for you if they think it’s necessary. However, there are also online iron testing services you can choose from. Some are at-home tests, while others still require a lab visit after you make your purchase.
Keep in mind that you can have low or high iron for many reasons. Because of this, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about your results, even if you decide to use an at-home test or go to a lab without a doctor’s order.
We reviewed each brand and product featured in this article based on our high quality standards. This includes checking the medical claims and accuracy of each product and looking into each company’s best practices to make sure they align with industry standards.
We also did a deep dive into each company’s reputation, reviewing their Better Business Bureau rating and checking to see if they’ve been involved in any lawsuits.
In addition, we checked if each company provides help interpreting your iron test results, whether they make any unacceptable health claims, and whether they use accredited labs to process their test kits.
- $ = under $50
- $$ = $50–$70
- $$$ = over $70
In-person lab testing
Most affordable ferritin test
- Price: $
- Test type: lab visit required
- Pros: affordable, accepts health savings account (HSA) and flexible spending account (FSA) payment
- Cons: not as comprehensive as other tests
Labcorp offers ferritin blood tests that can tell you a bit about your body’s iron stores. If you’re deficient in ferritin, you may deplete iron more quickly than someone with typical ferritin stores. However, you should talk with your doctor when you receive the results. They can help you interpret them and confirm a diagnosis of anemia or other condition.
After you make your purchase, you’ll need to visit a Labcorp lab for this test. Make sure to bring along the requisition number emailed to you by the company. You’ll also need a photo ID. When your test results are ready, you can access them online via your Pixel by Labcorp account.
There are no reviews on the product page for Labcorp’s ferritin test. However, reviews on third-party sites detail billing issues and customer service complaints.
Most comprehensive anemia test
- Price: $$$
- Test type: lab visit required
- Pros: comprehensive, accepts HSA and FSA payment
- Cons: expensive
This test is a comprehensive option that includes not only ferritin, iron, and TIBC tests, but also:
- red blood cell count
- white blood cell count
- platelet count
- vitamin B12
- reticulocyte count
Like the Labcorp Ferritin Blood Test, this test requires a trip to a Labcorp lab after you make your purchase. Be sure to bring your requisition number and photo ID.
You’ll also need to fast for 12 hours before the test.
At-home iron testing
Most affordable at-home test
- Price: $$
- Test type: at-home
- Pros: affordable and fast
- Cons: limited information on results, so a follow-up with your doctor is necessary
This ferritin iron deficiency test kit from U.K.-based Allergy Test is a compact testing kit mailed out in 1–3 business days. The test uses a small sample of blood, which takes about 10 minutes to collect, and provides results in under an hour.
Your test results will tell you whether your ferritin levels are within a normal or abnormal/deficient range. So, it may be best to follow up with your healthcare professional after receiving your results.
|Labcorp On Demand Ferritin Blood Test
– accepts HSA and FSA
|– need to visit a lab
– only tests ferritin levels which may not help diagnose iron deficiency
|Labcorp On Demand Anemia Blood Test
|– more comprehensive than the company’s ferritin test
– accepts HSA and FSA payment
|– need to visit a lab
– more expensive
|Allergy Test Iron Deficiency Test
– fast delivery and results
|– limited information on results
– follow-up with healthcare professional necessary
Iron is an essential mineral found in every cell of the body. It’s important to maintain adequate levels of it because iron produces hemoglobin, a protein found in your red blood cells, and serves to transport oxygen to your organs and tissues. It also delivers carbon dioxide back from your organs and tissues to your lungs.
If you have low hemoglobin levels, it signifies a low red blood cell count, also known as anemia, which can make you feel chronically tired and weak.
Some labs and products may also test your levels of ferritin, which can be elevated in people with chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, cancer, and liver disease, says Soma Mandal, MD, a board certified internist at Summit Health in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.
“However, ferritin should be used in conjunction with other tests such as serum iron and total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) to determine if you are truly iron deficient or too high in iron,” Mandal says.
There are several tests related to iron, each testing for something slightly different.
- Total iron binding capacity (TIBC) test. The TIBC test checks whether there’s too much or too little iron in the bloodstream. A doctor may order this test if they think you have anemia or too much iron in your blood, since both can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
- Serum iron test. A doctor will usually order a serum iron test as a follow-up if your initial testing reveals abnormal results. It checks for abnormally high or low blood iron levels. An abnormal result may indicate that you have an underlying health condition or have consumed too much iron.
- Ferritin test. The ferritin blood test checks the level of iron stored in your body. Both abnormally low and high ferritin levels can cause unpleasant symptoms, such as hair loss.
Iron in red blood cells carries oxygen throughout your body, while ferritin is a protein that stores iron in your body. Without enough ferritin, the iron stores in your body deplete quickly, which could lead to iron deficiency or anemia.
Too much ferritin in your body could be a sign of an underlying condition, such as liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammatory conditions.
Ferritin can be checked with a small amount of blood, which is why an at-home test may be a feasible option.
However, because at-home tests do not evaluate your iron levels but rather how your body stores iron, your healthcare professional will most likely order additional tests that can provide more detail. These might include a TIBC test or an iron test.
Iron deficiency is a common cause of anemia. It simply means that your body doesn’t have enough of this all-important mineral.
One of the most common signs of iron deficiency is feeling very tired or low on energy. Other common symptoms include:
- difficulty concentrating
- skin that’s paler than usual
- shortness of breath
It’s easy to just accept tiredness as a universal fact of life, so one way to watch out for potentially low iron levels is to take note of whether you feel particularly weak and tired while exercising.
Iron overload, or hemochromatosis, is a condition where the body stores too much iron. This can be a result of either genetics or another issue, such as:
- alcohol dependency
- family history of diabetes
- heart disease
- liver disease
- use of iron or vitamin C supplements
- frequent blood transfusions
With hemochromatosis, the body is not able to excrete excess iron. This excess iron can build up in the liver, heart, skin, joints, pancreas, and pituitary gland. It may lead to serious health concerns, including organ and tissue damage.
Symptoms of iron overload may include:
- weight loss
- abdominal pain
- low sex drive
- joint pain
- bronze or grey skin color
A typical range for serum iron is 60 to 170 micrograms of iron per deciliter of blood (mcg/dL).
If numbers are higher than that, that means you have too much iron in your blood. Over time, having too much iron in the blood can lead to serious complications, such as diabetes, liver damage, and heart failure.
A standard TIBC range is between 250 and 450 mcg/dL.
A high TIBC value usually means that you’re low on iron. That might be because you:
- don’t consume enough iron in your diet
- are menstruating or have very heavy periods
- are pregnant
If the TIBC value is below 250 mcg/dL, you have too much iron in your blood. This may be due to hemolytic anemia or iron poisoning. Other underlying medical conditions can also cause low TIBC values. Talk with your doctor if you notice high or low TIBC results.
If your results show low ferritin levels, you may have an iron deficiency. But a ferritin test isn’t enough to confirm a diagnosis.
Talk with your doctor about your test results. They can help you interpret the data and may recommend further testing.
Make an appointment with a doctor if you think you’re experiencing the symptoms of iron deficiency. Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia
- fatigue and weakness
- low body temperature
- irregular or rapid heart rate
- brittle nails
- shortness of breath or chest pain associated with physical activity
- pica (the desire to eat non-food items)
You may be at higher risk of iron deficiency anemia if you have heavy periods or a digestive disorder such as Crohn’s disease.
What is an iron test?
Different types of tests check the iron levels in your body. A serum iron test measures how much iron there is in your blood. A TIBC test detects how efficiently iron attaches to proteins in the blood. A ferritin test determines how much iron is stored in your body.
A doctor may order all of these tests to get a complete picture of the iron levels in your body. This can help them diagnose conditions like anemia or other underlying problems.
How is an iron test done?
An iron test requires a blood sample. Most of the time, this involves getting your blood drawn in a lab setting like you would with a routine blood test. It’s a quick process that doesn’t usually hurt too much.
What’s the difference between iron deficiency and anemia?
Iron deficiency is a decrease in the total content of iron in the body. With anemia, the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells, which require iron, to properly carry oxygen throughout the body. You can have iron deficiency without having anemia, but if left untreated iron deficiency will lead to anemia.
Can you test for anemia at home?
The above test kits make testing for anemia at home possible, but it should be noted that at-home tests may not have the accuracy or level of detail your doctor requires for a comprehensive diagnosis. That’s why it’s always recommended to ask your doctor if they recommend an at-home test based on your symptoms and medical history.
What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?
If you’re iron deficient, you may experience symptoms like:
- shortness of breath
- rapid heart rate
What are the treatments for iron deficiency?
Doctors will usually treat a deficiency by prescribing supplements or recommending diet changes. If you have a condition that impairs your body’s ability to absorb iron, your doctor may suggest intravenous iron. In cases of severe iron deficiency anemia, you may need a blood transfusion.
Are at-home iron tests accurate?
According to Mandal, the safest and most accurate way to check your iron is to have your blood drawn and analyzed by a lab. Finger-prick tests may offer less accuracy. In fact, a 2015 study showed that blood samples from finger-prick tests were less concentrated than lab-taken samples, and blood counts can vary from drop to drop.
Home tests are generally as accurate as lab tests since they are also analyzed by a lab. However, it is important to follow the provided instructions, as an inadequate sample may not provide accurate results.
While it’s possible to get tested for iron deficiency without seeing your doctor, we don’t recommend changing anything about your lifestyle or diet without first talking with a medical professional.
Not all iron tests give a complete picture. A ferritin test, for example, may suggest that you’re low in iron, but further testing is required to confirm a diagnosis.
If you get your iron levels checked and receive abnormal results, share them with your doctor. They may order more tests or help you decide on a treatment that’s right for you.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.