What is transferrin?

Transferrin is the main protein in the blood that binds to iron and transports it throughout the body.  A transferrin test measures the level of transferrin in the blood.  This test is used alongside other tests to evaluate iron status.

Why test transferrin?

Unless this is ordered as a retest or for a specific reason, we recommend ordering this as part of a health test. Transferrin is an important part of a complete iron panel and is included in all tests that include iron markers

Regular iron testing is important for those with low dietary intake of iron, vitamin B12, and folate and individuals with a personal or family history of anemia or excess iron. It helps identify risk factors for lifestyle diseases such as anemia and hemochromatosis, and monitor changes due to lifestyle adjustments, supplements, or treatments. Heavy periods, pregnancy, and athletic activities increase the risk of iron imbalance. Symptoms of low iron include fatigue, dizziness, and pale skin, while high iron can cause joint pain, abdominal pain, and liver disease, though symptoms might not always be present.

What do the results mean?

Transferrin tests are evaluated in the light of other iron tests. As iron decreases, transferrin levels rise as the body tries to compensate by making more ferritin to increase iron transport.

What causes low transferrin?
Serum iron results must be interpreted in the light of other blood tests. Low transferrin may be caused by certain conditions, such as iron overload (hemochromatosis), inflammation and malnutrition, liver disease and kidney disorders.

What causes high transferrin?
The most common cause of high transferrin is iron deficiency.

More information
Recent blood transfusions, iron injections, and transfusions can all affect the results of iron tests.

Preparations for this test

If you take iron supplements, avoid them for 24 hours before doing this test.

On the day of the test
Always take I.D. with you when going to take a test.  Take this test in the morning before 10 am. If you are a woman who has menstrual cycles it can be helpful to note down the day of your cycle.


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