How to Identify Iron Deficiency: Important Blood Tests to Identify Low Iron Deficiency & Anemia

In order to properly diagnose low iron, both iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia, your doctor will need to order several blood tests.  

The challenge is, routine blood work does not include the tests necessary to identify iron deficiency.  Doctors often simply run a CBC, or Complete Blood Count, to analyze your blood health.  While a CBC can identify low hemoglobin (anemia), it is missing serum ferritin, and therefore cannot diagnose iron deficiency

Many women experience significant symptoms of iron deficiency despite their CBC indicating a ‘normal’ hemoglobin level.  Therefore, it is imperative to test serum ferritin, to identify potential iron deficiency.  

In addition to iron, there are several other critical tests that identify nutrient deficiencies that frequently accompany iron deficiency; B-12, folic acid, and Vitamin D.  Many doctors are not accustomed to ordering these tests, so it is important that you are prepared to request them.  

It is also very important to note that the reference ranges considered ‘normal’ for several of these tests are extremely broad, and do not reflect the numbers needed to experience optimal health. 

Sadly, many doctors are not aware of the current research confirming that the ‘normal’ reference ranges are grossly inaccurate and do not reflect optimal health for their patients.

For example, the ‘normal’ reference range for ferritin is 13-200.  If your blood test reveals a serum ferritin level of 15, your doctor may consider this a ‘normal’ result.  When in actuality, a ferritin level of 15 indicates severe iron deficiency. Rest assured – you are not overreacting or imagining things despite your doctor’s indifference.  Iron deficiency can and does cause significant symptoms!

Understanding these test results is a big step in discovering possible deficiencies that are affecting your health, and you are in the right place for arming yourself with this information.  In the reference chart below, I have included both traditional lab reference ranges, and updated optimal ranges based on current research. You can print this page & take it with you to your doctor’s appointment.

Iron Repair Method Important Blood Tests to Identify Low Iron Deficiency

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The Iron Repair Manual for a deeper explanation of each test, why it’s important, & a science based road map to fight your iron deficiency.


Noemia LM, Carmen VL (2018) Ferritin: Could be a Health Indicator. J Fam Med Dis Prev 4:078.


Esa Soppi (2019) Iron Deficiency Without Anemia – Common, Important, Neglected. Clin Case Rep Rev 5: DOI: 10.15761/CCRR.1000456

Dig Liver Dis. 2013 Oct;45(10):803-9. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2013.02.019. Epub 2013 Apr 11.

*Disclaimer: This content is strictly the opinion of Krystal Moore or Three Arrows Nutra, LLC  and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Krystal Moore, Three Arrows Nutra, LLC  nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

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