Understanding Transferrin Saturation
What is Transferrin Saturation?
Transferrin saturation is a lab test used to determine the amount of transferrin that is saturated (bound) with iron. Transferrin saturation is calculated by dividing iron concentration by total iron-binding capacity (TIBC). Transferrin is the primary protein that helps in transporting iron to different parts of the body. TIBC measures the total number of proteins available in the blood to bind iron.
The reference range for transferrin saturation is 20-50 % and 15-50 % in the male and female populations, respectively. A low transferrin saturation percentage is seen in patients with low iron levels, anemia, and pregnant women. High transferrin saturation levels are observed in Haemochromatosis (iron overload).
Normal transferrin saturation levels can be maintained by consuming iron-rich foods like pulses, nuts, seeds, red meat, etc.
What is Transferrin Saturation used for?
A transferrin saturation test is ordered when iron deficiency or iron overload is suspected. The symptoms of iron deficiency are dizziness, headaches, chronic fatigue, pale skin color etc. The symptoms of iron overload are joint pain, weakness, abdominal pain, abnormal heart rhythm, weight loss. Whenever a person shows such symptoms, he/she is prescribed the test.
Interpreting Transferrin Saturation results
In healthy adults, the transferrin saturation is supposed to be in the range of 20%-50%. A number lower or greater than that implies iron deficiency or iron overload respectively.