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- Most inexpensive iron test (requires lab visit): Walk-In Lab Iron and Total Iron-Binding Capacity (TIBC) Blood Test
- Most inexpensive anemia test (requires lab visit): Persona Labs Comprehensive Iron Profile Blood Test
- Best at-home ferritin test: Cerascreen Ferritin Test
- Most inexpensive ferritin test (requires lab visit): Pixel by Labcorp Ferritin Blood Test
- Most comprehensive anemia test (requires lab visit): Pixel by Labcorp Anemia Blood Test
Usually, your doctor will order a lab test for you if they think it’s necessary. However, there are also a handful of iron testing services you can buy online. 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.
Below, we’ll go into what iron tests entail, our picks for best at-home iron testing, how to interpret your results, and when to see a doctor.
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.
We reviewed each brand’s business and medical practices, checking:
- their BBB rating, if they have one
- whether they’ve been involved in any lawsuits
- if they provide help interpreting your results
- whether they make any unacceptable health claims
All companies on the list also say they use accredited labs to process their testing kits.
- $ = under $50
- $$ = $50–$70
- $$$ = over $70
Most affordable iron test (requires lab visit)
- Price: $
- Pros: inexpensive
- Cons: website difficult to navigate, requires in-person lab visit, lab tests not available in all states
Walk-In Lab offers both serum iron and TIBC testing. You can order and pay for the test online, but you’ll need to visit a brick-and-mortar lab to get your blood drawn.
Before you go in for testing, make sure to follow any directions indicated. For example, some tests may require you to fast for 8 hours or more. You’ll also need to take a printout of the lab order from Walk-In Lab to the in-person lab.
You can find the lab nearest to you by using the Lab Locator feature on the website. There’s also an option to book an appointment, but that’s not necessary.
When you get your results by email — they should be ready within 1 to 2 days — avoid making a self-diagnosis. Instead, talk with your doctor about the results. Be sure not to make any changes to your diet or medications before having that chat.
Based on customer reviews, Walk-In Lab has an excellent reputation. The company’s TrustPilot rating is 4.7, with an overwhelming amount of positive reviews. People say the process is easy, and pricing is competitive. Experiences with in-person staff vary and depend on where you get your blood drawn.
Most affordable anemia test (requires lab visit)
- Price: $$
- Pros: inexpensive
- Cons: need to visit a lab for testing, not available in some states (New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island)
The Persona Labs Comprehensive Iron Profile Blood Test includes ferritin and TIBC tests. You can order the test online, but you’ll need to visit a local lab for testing. Make sure to bring your printout to the lab.
Results are usually available online within 1 to 2 days, but wait times may take longer in some cases. You can also schedule a follow-up with one of Persona’s board certified doctors to discuss your results. Otherwise, be sure to visit your regular doctor.
There aren’t too many reviews for this service online, but the ones that exist are very positive. People say testing is quick and efficient. Many customers also applaud the excellent customer service.
Best at-home ferritin test
- Price: $$$
- Pros: can be done at home, quick delivery
- Cons: only tests ferritin levels
Cerascreen offers ferritin blood tests. While this can be a useful test when used in conjunction with others, a ferritin test alone is a poor indicator of whether someone has an iron deficiency. Low ferritin means that your iron stores can be depleted more quickly, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re anemic.
Regardless of your results, you should talk with your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing. They can order additional tests to check for iron deficiency.
This is one of the few fully at-home iron-related test kits available on the market. You’ll need to take a blood sample yourself and then send it back for testing using the prepaid envelope.
When the lab finishes testing your sample, you’ll receive a report that includes recommendations for increasing or decreasing iron values. However, we don’t recommend making any big adjustments before talking with your doctor.
Reviews are mostly positive. People say the process isn’t complicated, but that it can take practice to prick your finger and get enough blood. Comments about customer service are mixed. Also, a handful of people say they never received their results.
Most affordable ferritin test (requires lab visit)
- Price: $
- 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 normal 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 (requires lab visit)
- Price: $$$
- Pros: comprehensive, accepts HSA and FSA payment
- Cons: expensive
This test is a comprehensive option that includes not only a ferritin, iron, and TIBC test, but also:
- red blood cell count
- white blood cell count
- platelet count
- vitamin B12
- reticulocyte count
Like the Pixel by 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.
A normal 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 normal 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 through 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 to your doctor about your test results. They can help you interpret the data and may recommend further testing.
Make an appointment with your 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 are the symptoms of iron deficiency?
If you’re iron deficient, you may experience symptoms like:
- shortness of breath
- rapid heartbeat
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 require a blood transfusion.
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 to 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.