March 24, 2009

When A Blood Test Isn't Enough

If you're looking to get a firm grasp on your iron status, a simple blood test won't do.

Standard blood tests tend to exclusively report levels of hemoglobin, which only help detect iron-deficiency anemia.

Remember: you can have iron deficiency without anemia, a condition which causes specific symptoms and certainly needs to be treated.

Keeping in mind that approximately 75 percent of the world's population is estimated to be iron deficient, it is a good idea to ask your doctor for a more accurate test.

Next time you are due for a blood test, request to have your transferrin saturation and ferritin levels tested.

Although ferritin is useful by itself, I strongly recommend you ask for both since ferritin can lead to false positives (inflammatory states affect its levels)

If these tests show you have iron deficiency, the solution is rather simple -- include more iron in your diet.

Fortunately, dietary interventions usually lead to improved iron levels in as little as three weeks.

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