If you’re iron deficient, a blood test might be your best option to find out.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the world and it affects people from all walks of life, not just people with certain medical conditions or who have undergone chemotherapy treatments.
This deficiency can cause iron-deficiency anemia and other related problems for those who have it.
Iron is needed to produce hemoglobin and red blood cells, so iron deficiencies can lead to symptoms like:
Please know your #1 option is to always consult with doctor first. If you have insurance, your plan may cover blood tests for a small co-pay and very little paperwork. Schedule an appointment with your doctor and ask them for more info.
If you just want to order a test online, and find a lab located near you for a quick blood draw so that you can get clarity on whether or not you have an iron deficiency …
Then you have a few great options, which we review here! We receive a small commission if you purchase too, which helps keep the Eating Enlightenment app free for it’s hundreds of users.
So what are your best options when ordering for iron deficiency blood tests online?
We answer frequently asked questions, like how to prepare for appointments and other concerns, at the bottom of this post. Let’s dive in!
If you want more info on supplements – including risks and general FDA guidelines – please see our “Supplements and Vitamins – Ultimate Beginner’s Guide”.
Our Criteria For “Best” Blood Test Options
Test for Major Markers of Iron Deficiency:
We chose services which tested for levels of iron and total iron-binding capacity (TIBC), at a minimum. TIBIC analyzes how well iron combines with your blood.
If you are suffering from iron deficiency anemia, testing for these two blood markers is essential.
We chose blood test providers that were (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) CLIA-certified. Also, we also took into account their third-party reviews and standings with the Better Business Bureau.
We looked for websites that:
- describe tests in detail
- allow for easy scheduling
- provide results quickly and in an easy-to-understand format
- allow you to follow health trends as you order additional tests, and give quick results.
Best Price: Ulta Lab
- Price = $22
- # of Labs in US = 2000
- # of Reviews = 2728
- Average Rating = 4.9/5
- Better Business Bureau Rating = A+
Ulta Lab receives an A+ rating from Better Business Bureau (BBB) after being accredited for 8 years.
After 8 years, according to BBB, they’ve only had 2 complaints which were marked solved.
The Ulta Lab iron deficiency blood test measures both:
- Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC)
With a $22 test available, Ulta Lab’s test is the lowest price we could find.
Ulta Lab is our top choice to test for iron deficiency anemia because of their low price and stellar rating reputation.
Runner-Up: Walk-In Lab
- Price = $31
- # of Labs in US = 3700
- # of Reviews = 16, 605
- Average Rating = 4.8/5
- Better Business Bureau Rating = A
Walk-In Lab receives an A rating from the BBB after being accredited for more than 12 years.
Like Ulta, their blood test for iron deficiency measures both iron and TIBC.
They have more lab locations than Ulta but their prices are slightly higher.
Best For Vegans: Health Lab
- Price = $149
- # of Labs in US = 4500
- # of Reviews = 15, 500*
- Average Rating = 96%
- Better Business Bureau Rating = A+
Health Labs receives an A+ BBB rating after being accredited for 11 years.
Health Labs also has the highest number of lab locations out of all blood testing services.
It Health Labs also offers a unique blood testing option specifically for vegans and vegetarians.
Vegans and vegetarians as a group of people are statistically at more risk for iron deficiency anemia.
Health Lab’s test looks at 9 different biomarkers, which vegans and vegetarians are more prone to lack or be deficient in:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC)
- D-25 Hydroxy (Vitamin D-3)
- Folic Acid
Yet, because we couldn’t find another similar blood test specifically for vegans and vegetarians, we want to highlight this option despite the higher cost.
Best For Fatigue: Personalabs
- Price = $168
- # of Labs in US = 2300
- # of Reviews = 1557
- Average Rating = 4.8/5
- BBB Rating = N/A
Personalabs offers a unique blood testing service which looks for the deficiencies related to fatigue, including iron.
While fatigue is often a symptom of iron deficiency anemia, but it has other causes as well.
This blood test from Personalabs looks for hormonal, blood-borne (aka, iron deficiency), and infectious viral causes of fatigue.
Specifically, this test measures:
- Iron and TIBC
- Epstein Barr, Acute Infection (Mono)
- White Blood Cells
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
This test even gives you a complete urine analysis too!
If you are feeling fatigued and want to cross all your T’s and dot all your I’s …
This test can help you get a more comprehensive look at what’s going on in your blood.
Now that we’ve covered our top choices, let’s provide some answers to questions we get frequently!
What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Iron deficiency anemia is a condition caused by low amounts of iron stores. Just like it sounds!
Do you know why iron is important? Because your red blood cells carry around oxygen. But without iron your red blood cells can’t do this carry oxygen.
If you want to get super scientific, iron helps your body produce “hemoglobin”. Hemoglobin is what carries the oxygen in your red blood cells.
Low iron > not enough hemoglobin > red blood cells can’t carry oxygen efficiently > fatigue and other symptoms
What Causes Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Did you know there are many causes of iron deficiency anemia, but the most common is not getting enough iron through your diet.
Other causes of iron deficiency anemia can include:
- Blood loss from Women who menstruation, especially if their periods are heavy
- Lack of iron-rich meals (vegetarians, vegans, and other people who don’t consume iron-rich meals are at risk).
- Women who are pregnancy, breastfeeding, or just giving birth
- Those who have recently undergone major surgery or suffered serious injuries
- Those who have gastrointestinal issues like celiac disease (sprue), inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease
- People who have had bBariatric operations, particularly gastric bypass surgery
Other less common causes include:
- Nosebleed chronic nose bleeding that results in significant blood loss.
- Blood loss from the kidneys or bladder, which may be life-threatening.
Any other other symptoms of iron deficiency anemia?
Mild and significant iron-deficiency anemias are possible.
In the beginning, individuals with iron deficiency-anemia only show minor symptoms.
However, with enough time symptoms increase. Iron-deficiency is a serious condition that can lead to numerous health problems if not treated:
- Hair loss or brittle nails
- Pale skin or “sallow” yellow skin
- Extreme tiredness or a lack of energy are two possible symptoms.
- Shortness of breath or chest discomfort, especially when exercising
- Fast heart rate
- Ear buzzing or “whooshing”
- A desire for ice or mud – “picophagia”
What Happens During An Iron Blood Test?
A medical practitioner takes red blood cells using a needle. See your individual test for details.
Fortunately, it usually lasts less than 15 seconds.
Will I need anything to prepare for the test?
The tests above ask you to fast at least 8 hours before your appointment.
Are there any risks to iron tests?
There are few risks to taking blood tests.
The sting is unpleasant, but the symptoms vanish rapidly.
Is there anything else I need to know about iron tests?
Please know Iron and TIBC testing goes by many different names:
- TIBC and Iron
- Iron Profile
- Fe and TIBC
- TIBC and Fe
- Transferrin Saturation
- Iron Indices
- UIBC (Unsaturated Iron-Binding Capacity)
If you see these on different blood tests for iron deficiency anemia, please know they are referring to Iron and TIBC testing.
How to Treat Iron Deficiency Anemia
If your results do indicate iron deficiency, then it’s advisable to take iron-rich supplements, which are proven to treat iron deficiency anemia.
Fun fact -the author of this article, Jared Levenson, previously had iron deficiency anemia and took a blood test. After getting his diagnosis, his doctor advised iron supplements for a few months.
The standard iron supplement will give you about 300 milligrams each day. Finally,you can also take Vitamin C to help you absorb iron into your red blood cells.
Of course, improving your diet to include iron-rich foods is recommended as well.
What are examples of iron-rich foods?
Some iron-rich foods include:
- Legumes (beans)
- Nuts and seeds
- Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard and beet greens
- Sweet potatoes
Iron deficiency anemia is a serious condition that can lead to all sorts of health problems.
Fortunately, it’s easy to treat.
The first step is getting your red blood cells tested so you can diagnose iron deficiency anemia.
If your iron levels are low, the next step will be working with your healthcare provider on an appropriate course of treatment, which might include vitamins and eating healthier foods.
If you don’t want to wait for your next doctor’s appointment or deal with insurance, then you can use one of the options above to order a test.
All you have to do is print out the order, and go to a lab near you.
(If you live in a rural area please check each website’s lab locator to find the spot nearest to you.)
We hope we’ve answered any questions but please leave us a comment below!
If you want to know more about other options for blood testing for vitamin deficiencies, read our reviews here!