Serum Iron Test - Normal Range, Cost, Purpose, Results

Serum Iron Test

Test Duration


5 Minutes

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10 Minutes

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Serum Iron Test
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Serum iron is like a superhero in your body, playing a vital role in delivering oxygen to every cell, and energising you to conquer each day. But how do you know if your body maintains the serum iron in the normal range?
That's where we come in! Understanding the serum iron normal range is essential as it allows you to assess your iron status and make informed choices about your well-being. From the importance of serum iron to factors that may affect it, we'll guide you thoroughly through all the intricacies of serum iron.

Alternative Name
S. Iron Profile Test
  1. Fasting 12 hours before the test
  2. Avoid consuming iron supplements
Test Done by
General Physician
  1. Serum Iron: 65 – 177 ug/dL
  2. Ferritin: 22-322 ng/mL
  3. Total Iron binding capacity: 250-425ug/dL
  4. Transferrin Saturation: 20 – 50%
Report Time 6 to 24 hours

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What is a Serum Iron Test?

The serum iron test is a simple blood test that measures the iron level in your blood. Serum refers to the liquid component of blood that remains after the blood cells (red and white blood cells, platelets) have been removed. Iron is an essential mineral for carrying oxygen to your body's cells. Doctors use the results to diagnose and monitor iron-related disorders, ensuring proper treatment and overall health.

Need for Serum Iron Test

A serum iron test is recommended for individuals suspected of conditions related to iron metabolism or absorption. The suitable candidates for this test include:

  1. People with symptoms of anaemia, such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, or pale skin.

  2. Inflammatory bowel disease may have difficulty absorbing iron from their diet.

  3. Any person who has undergone gastrointestinal surgery may have reduced absorption of iron.

  4. Diagnosed with a blood disorder, such as thalassemia or sickle cell anaemia.

  5. Pregnant individuals may require additional iron to support foetal growth and development.

  6. Family history of iron overload disorders, such as hemochromatosis or with a history of liver disease or liver damage.

  7. Lead exposure or suspected lead poisoning.

Benefits of Serum Iron Test

This serum iron test is essential for diagnosing and managing iron-related disorders. The benefits include

  1. Diagnosis of Iron-Deficiency Anaemia

    Iron deficiency anaemia is a common type of anaemia that occurs when the body does not have less than the required iron to produce haemoglobin. This protein carries oxygen in the blood. 
    In this case, the serum iron test helps to diagnose anaemia. 
  1. Monitoring Treatment of Iron-Deficiency Anaemia

    The serum iron test can be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment by measuring the level of iron in the blood. If the iron levels increase over time, the treatment is working.
  1. Early Detection of Iron Overload

    Iron overload is a condition with too much iron in the body. This can lead to organ damage and other serious health problems. This blood test can help detect iron overload early on by measuring the iron level in the blood.
  1. Diagnosis of Hemochromatosis

    Hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder in which the body absorbs more than the required iron. Over time, the excess iron can cause damage organs such as the liver, heart, and pancreas. 
    The serum iron test can help diagnose hemochromatosis by measuring the iron level in the blood. Genetic testing may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis if the levels are too high.
  1. Evaluation of Iron During Pregnancy

    The body needs more iron to support the growing foetus. The serum iron test can help evaluate the iron status of pregnant women and detect iron deficiency anaemia early. This, in turn, can help reduces the risk of complications during pregnancy.
  1. Diagnosis of Lead Poisoning

    Lead poisoning is a severe condition that can cause a range of health problems, including developmental delays, behavioural issues, and organ damage. 
    The test can diagnose lead poisoning by measuring the lead level in the blood.

Preparation of Serum Iron Test

Specific preparations are often required before the serum iron test to ensure accurate results. Follow the doctor's instructions to ensure accurate test results and effective management of any iron-related conditions. The preparation of the test includes:

  1. Fasting: Your doctor may ask you to fast for 12 hours before the test, which means not eating or drinking anything except water during this period.

  2. Medications: Inform your healthcare provider about any medications or supplements you currently take, as some may interfere with the test results. Follow their advice on whether to discontinue any specific medicines before the test.

  3. Avoid Vitamin C Supplements: Vitamin C can enhance iron absorption, so it's advisable to avoid vitamin C supplements or excessive consumption of vitamin C-rich foods for a day before the test.

  4. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before the test to ensure you are well-hydrated, as dehydration may affect blood volume and, consequently, the accuracy of the test results.

  5. Rest Before the Test: Get a good night's sleep before the test to reduce stress and fatigue, which can impact iron levels in the body.

Serum Iron Test Procedure

The serum iron blood test is a routine procedure that is relatively quick and safe. The doctor will discuss the test results with you and provide appropriate guidance based on the findings. The procedure includes:

  1. Blood Sample Collection: A healthcare professional will collect blood from your vein, usually from the arm. Before drawing the blood, they will clean the area with an antiseptic to prevent infection.

  2. Needle Insertion: The healthcare provider will use a needle to access the vein and draw the blood into a sterile container. You may feel a brief prick or stinging sensation during this process.

  3. Pressure and Bandage: After the blood sample is collected, the needle will be removed, and gentle pressure will be applied to the puncture site to stop bleeding. A bandage will then be placed over the site to protect it.

  4. Labelling and Transport: The collected blood sample will be labelled with your details and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

Aftercare of Serum Iron Test

After the serum iron blood test, taking care of yourself is essential to ensure a smooth recovery. The aftercare includes:

  1. Apply Pressure: Keep the bandage on the puncture site for a few hours after the test. Applying gentle pressure to the area can help minimise bruising and promote clotting.

  2. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water after the test to help your body replenish the blood volume and prevent dehydration.

  3. Avoid Heavy Lifting: Refrain from engaging in heavy lifting or strenuous activities for a few hours after the test to avoid any potential complications or discomfort at the puncture site.

  4. Monitor for Adverse Reactions: While rare, if you experience severe pain, swelling, or bleeding at the puncture site, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

  5. Rest: Get adequate rest and avoid excessive physical exertion for the rest of the day, aiding in quicker recovery.

Results of Serum Iron Test

The serum iron test results are typically available within 6 to 24 hours after collecting the blood sample. Patients can obtain their test reports by contacting their healthcare provider or through an online patient portal.

Interpretation of the ESR Test

The defined serum iron normal range tends to vary from one lab to another. The normal values are:

  1. Total Iron-Binding Capacity (TIBC): 240 to 450 mcg/dL

  2. Total Serum Iron: 26 to 170 mcg/dL in women and 76 to 198 mcg/dL in men

  3. Transferrin Saturation: 204 to 360 mg/dL

  4. Iron: 60 to 170 mcg/dL

Serum Iron Test Above Normal

The serum iron test results may sometimes show iron levels above normal. Several factors can lead to higher-than-normal serum iron levels, indicating potential health issues. Here are some common causes of an elevated serum iron test:

  1. Iron Overload Disorders: Conditions like hereditary hemochromatosis and secondary hemochromatosis can cause excess iron to accumulate in the body. It leads to elevated serum iron levels.

  2. Frequent Blood Transfusions: Receiving regular blood transfusions, either for medical conditions or chronic anaemia, can increase iron levels in the blood over time.

  3. Excessive Iron Supplementation: Taking iron supplements in excess of the recommended dose can cause an iron overload in the body.

  4. Liver Disease: Certain liver disorders, such as alcoholic liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, can disrupt iron metabolism and increase serum iron levels.

  5. Hemolytic Anaemia: Conditions that cause the premature destruction of red blood cells, like hemolytic anaemia, can release additional iron into the bloodstream.

Serum Iron Test Below Normal

Low serum iron levels can indicate iron deficiency. Here are some common causes of a below-normal serum iron test:

  1. Iron Deficiency Anaemia: The most common cause of low serum iron levels is iron deficiency anaemia. It occurs when the body lacks sufficient iron to produce haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.

  2. Inadequate Dietary Intake: A diet lacking in iron-rich foods, such as red meat, leafy greens, and beans, can lead to insufficient iron absorption and low serum iron levels.

  3. Chronic Blood Loss: Conditions or factors that cause chronic blood loss, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, menstrual bleeding (in women), or frequent blood donation, can deplete the body's iron stores.

  4. Malabsorption Disorders: Certain medical conditions, like celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, can affect the absorption of nutrients, including iron, leading to iron deficiency and lower serum iron levels.

  5. Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the body's iron requirements increase to support fetal development, and if dietary intake is inadequate, it can result in low serum iron levels.

Treatment Plan After Test

Treatment is needed to address the underlying causes of abnormal serum iron levels, whether too high or too low. Proper treatment helps restore iron balance in the body, improves overall health, and prevents potential complications associated with iron-related disorders.

Treatment of Serum Iron Above Normal

Managing the causes of high serum iron levels is crucial to prevent complications and maintain overall health. Here are some treatment options for elevated serum iron levels:

  1.  For hereditary hemochromatosis, therapeutic phlebotomy (blood removal) is a common treatment to reduce iron levels.

  2. Iron chelation therapy may be used if frequent transfusions cause elevated iron levels. This involves medications that help the body excrete excess iron.

  3. Stop iron supplements immediately and consult a healthcare provider for further guidance on managing iron levels safely.

  4. Treating the underlying liver condition and managing iron intake through diet or medications can help regulate iron levels.

Treatment of Serum Iron Below Normal

When a person's serum iron is low, it may signify specific health conditions that require attention and appropriate management. Treatment of with low serum iron includes:

  1. Iron supplements can help replenish iron levels and treat iron deficiency anaemia.

  2.  Incorporating more iron-rich foods into the diet can help improve iron absorption and boost serum iron levels. Consult a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized dietary advice.

  3. Pregnant women may need iron supplementation to meet iron requirements during pregnancy.

Risks and Complications of Serum Iron Test

When a person undergoes a serum iron test, they may experience mild pain or a pricking sensation when the blood is drawn. This is a usual side effect of blood draws and is usually temporary. 

The pain should subside soon after the procedure is complete. Additionally, a person may experience slight bleeding or develop a small bruise at the site. This is also a common side effect and should not cause concern. However, in rare cases, a person may experience more serious complications due to a serum iron test. These can include:

  1. Infection: If the equipment used for the blood draw is not sterilised correctly, a person may develop an infection in the pricked area. The symptoms of an infection include redness, swelling, and tenderness at the site of the puncture. In some cases, a person may also experience fever or chills. If a person suspects an infection, they should seek medical attention immediately.

  1. Excessive Bleeding: While bleeding after a blood draw is normal, excessive bleeding can occur in rare cases. This can be due to a person's blood not clotting properly. A person who experiences excessive bleeding after a blood draw should apply pressure to the site and seek medical attention if the bleeding does not stop within a few minutes.

  2. Fainting: Some people may experience fainting or lightheadedness after a blood draw. This can be due to a sudden drop in blood pressure. A person who feels faint should lie down and elevate their legs to help increase blood flow to the brain. It is also important to inform the healthcare provider of any previous fainting episodes to ensure proper precautions are taken during the blood draw.

Cost of Serum Iron Test

The serum iron test cost can vary depending on several factors. Before getting the test, key factors like the healthcare provider, geographical location, and insurance coverage are worth considering. Here are a few of the factors that can affect the cost of a serum iron test:

  1. Insurance Coverage: Though the insurance company does not cover blood tests, a few exceptions exist. Some insurance contains packages for blood tests as a preventive measure. Other corporate insurance policies hold the same policy for blood tests. 

  1. Geographical Location: The cost of a serum iron test can vary depending on the patient's location. Tests performed in urban areas or areas with a higher cost of living may be more expensive than those performed in rural areas.

  1. Type of Test: The cost of a serum iron test can also depend on the specific test type ordered. Additional tests, like a complete blood count (CBC) or transferrin saturation test, may be necessary for an accurate diagnosis and can increase the overall cost.

  2. Laboratory Fees: The laboratory that performs the test may charge additional fees, such as processing or handling fees, which can increase the overall cost of the test.

Test Name Cost Value
Serum Iron Test ₹ 250 - ₹ 500


The serum iron test is a valuable diagnostic tool that measures the level of iron in a person's blood. The test helps doctors determine whether a patient has iron deficiency or overload, both of which can lead to various health issues. The serum iron normal range may vary depending on age, gender, and other factors. 

Contact HexaHealth and learn all about the serum iron test in detail. Our experts will guide you through the procedure for taking the test and understanding its results. Connect with us to take your first step towards a healthier life today!

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FAQs for Serum Iron Test

What is a serum iron test, and why is it done?

The serum iron test is a blood test that measures the amount of iron in the blood. The test is done to diagnose iron-related health conditions like iron deficiency anaemia or iron overload. It can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatments for these conditions and have a serum iron normal range.

What is the serum iron normal range?

The serum iron normal range varies depending on age, gender, and other factors. The normal range for serum iron levels is between 60-170 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) for men and between 40-150 mcg/dL for women.

How is the serum iron test performed, and what does it measure?

The serum iron test is a simple blood test that involves drawing blood from a vein in the arm. The blood sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The test measures the amount of iron in the blood, which can help diagnose iron-related health conditions.

What are the potential causes of high serum iron levels?

Several factors can cause high serum iron levels, including: 

  1. Iron overload disorders like hemochromatosis, 
  2. Liver disease 
  3. Alcoholism
  4. Certain types of anaemia

What are the potential causes of low serum iron levels?

Low serum iron levels can be caused by iron deficiency anaemia, chronic kidney disease, pregnancy, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

How do I prepare for a serum iron test, and is there anything I need to avoid before the test?

To prepare for a serum iron test, you may be asked to fast for 12 hours before the test. You should also inform your healthcare provider about any medications or supplements you are taking, as some may interfere with the test results. Avoid iron-rich foods and iron supplements for at least 24 hours before the test.

What is the average serum iron test cost, and does insurance cover it?

The cost of a serum iron test may vary depending on the location, healthcare provider, and insurance coverage. On average, the cost of the test can range from ₹ 250 to ₹ 500. Some insurance plans may cover the cost of the test, but it is best to check with the insurance provider beforehand.

How long does it take to get results from a serum iron test?

Typically, it takes 1-2 days to get the results of a serum iron test. However, the time may vary depending on the healthcare provider and the lab where the test is done.

What do the results of a serum iron test indicate?

The results of a serum iron test can indicate whether a person has iron deficiency or iron overload. If the results are abnormal, further testing may be required to diagnose the underlying cause of the iron-related condition.

Can medications affect serum iron levels, and if so, which ones?

Yes, certain medications or supplements can affect serum iron levels. 

  1. Iron supplements and vitamin C supplements can increase serum iron levels.

  2. Few antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and cancer medicine can decrease serum iron levels.

What are the possible complications of a serum iron test?

Serum iron tests are generally safe, and complications are rare. However, like any blood test, there is a risk of the following:

  1. Bleeding

  2. Infection

  3. Bruising at the site of the needle insertion

  4. Dizziness

What are the myths and facts about the serum iron test?

  1. Myth: A low serum iron level always indicates iron deficiency.

    Fact: A low serum iron level does not always indicate iron deficiency. Other factors, such as inflammation or infection, can affect serum iron levels. A thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider can determine the underlying cause.
  1. Myth: High iron levels always indicate iron overload.

    Fact: While high serum iron levels can indicate iron overload, other factors, such as dehydration or recent consumption of iron-rich foods, can also affect serum iron levels. Further testing, such as a transferrin saturation test, is necessary to diagnose iron overload accurately.
  1. Myth: A serum iron test is painful and uncomfortable.

    Fact: A serum iron test is a routine blood test and is not generally painful or uncomfortable. Some people may experience mild discomfort or a slight pinch when the needle is inserted, which is temporary.


All the articles on HexaHealth are supported by verified medically-recognized sources such as; peer-reviewed academic research papers, research institutions, and medical journals. Our medical reviewers also check references of the articles to prioritize accuracy and relevance. Refer to our detailed editorial policy for more information.

  1. Iron Test [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Jul 31]. link
  2. Tests to Determine Iron Levels [Internet]. idi. link
  3. McPherson RA, Pincus MR. Henry’s Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods E-Book [Internet]. Google Books. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2021 [cited 2023 Jul 31]. link
  4. NCD - Serum Iron Studies (190.18) [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jul 31]. link
  5. MedlinePlus. Iron Tests: MedlinePlus Medical Test [Internet]. 2021. link


Sangeeta Sharma

Sangeeta Sharma

BSc. Biochemistry I MSc. Biochemistry (Oxford College Bangalore)

6 Years Experience

She has extensive experience in content and regulatory writing with reputed organisations like Sun Pharmaceuticals and Innodata. Skilled in SEO and passionate about creating informative and engaging medical conten...View More

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