The term serum iron refers to the amount of “circulating iron” in the body, i.e., the amount bound to transferrin: a protein that transports iron from the intestine to all cells in the body.
Low serum iron indicates that blood iron levels are below physiological levels. This condition may occur due to an inadequate diet, as a result of specific physiological conditions (pregnancy, menstrual cycle) or may be related to certain conditions that decrease the amount of iron that our body absorbs from the diet.
Iron is a fundamental nutrient for our body: it is essential for the normal formation of haemoglobin, myoglobin and red blood cells and, therefore, for the normal transportation of oxygen in the blood. It also contributes to normal cognitive functions and the normal functioning of the immune system.
The measurement of serum iron assesses the amount of iron bound to transferrin in the serum (liquid blood component). Together with the assessment of ferritin levels and transferrin levels, this helps to give a complete picture of what is referred to as blood iron levels, i.e., an idea of the balance and distribution of iron in the body.
Serum iron values are as follows:
The reference values may change slightly from one laboratory to another, depending on the method of analysis used or the reference population. Furthermore, as it can be noted from the list, they can also vary according to gender and age. Therefore, serum iron values, although indicative of the iron present in the liquid part of the blood (serum), are always assessed by the doctor in a broader context that includes the measurement of ferritin levels and transferrin levels.
Low serum iron may occur when a sufficient amount of iron has not been consumed through diet. Approximately 60-80% of the iron intake from food, in fact, is used by the body to produce haemoglobin and myoglobin. The remaining portion is used for the production of other proteins and enzymes or is stored in the tissue in the form of ferritin.
When diet is not able to provide a sufficient amount of iron, blood concentration levels lower possibly leading to a consequent lowering of haemoglobin levels.
Other factors that lead to low iron in the blood are bleeding and difficulties in absorbing iron in the intestine. In women, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and breastfeeding may be physiological conditions underlying low serum iron values due to the body’s increased iron requirements. Lastly, even the rapid growth in the first years of children‘s lives requires an increased intake of iron which, if not taken in the right quantities, may leads to a situation of low serum iron.
The most common symptom is a condition of general fatigue and tiredness (asthenia). Other symptoms of low serum iron include:
Under normal health conditions, a healthy and balanced diet is sufficient to ensure an adequate intake of iron for the body. However, in some specific cases, it may be necessary to address a deficiency or increased body needs with an iron-based food supplement.
The SiderAL® range of food supplements containing Sucrosomial® Iron can be useful in all cases in which a deficiency or an increased iron intake is needed.