What is UIBC in blood? How are the low, high and normal values of UIBC?

By | 24 May 2021

UIBC test is one of the studies that are frequently conducted during the researches conducted for the research of anemia or during routine blood tests. UIBC, the abbreviated name for the blood value called “Unsaturated Iron Binding Capacity”, which means unsaturated iron-binding capacity, provides important information both in the diagnosis and treatment processes of anemias and in measuring their iron-binding capacity. The fact that this blood parameter, whose level in the blood should be within certain ranges, is lower or higher than normal, indicates some health problems. For this reason, UIBC levels should definitely be investigated during the controls especially in anemia patients, and if any disorder is detected at this level, the treatment process should be planned.

What is UIBC?

Unsaturated iron binding capacity (UIBC) is one of the most important medical diagnostic tests that provide information about iron metabolism in the body. Iron, one of the minerals that are of great importance in the performance of body functions, is carried by binding to certain proteins in the blood. Approximately 95% of these are proteins with a special structure called transferrin. This protein called transferrin is responsible for the absorption of the iron mineral taken into the body with food from the intestines to the required parts of the body after it passes into the bloodstream. In a healthy individual, transferrin proteins are capable of carrying large amounts of iron, while only one-third is bound with iron and the remaining two-thirds are empty. This part that is unsaturated with iron is called unsaturated iron-binding capacity. In case of an insufficient amount of iron mineral in the body for a long time, transferrin proteins increase the iron-binding capacity, in other words, they become able to carry a larger amount of iron. This condition is generally seen in individuals with anemia problems and some other diseases. On the contrary, the UIBC value may decrease in cases such as excessive consumption of foods such as red meat with high iron content or unconscious iron supplementation. UIBC elevation and low UIBC are conditions that need to be investigated and treated.

How is the UIBC test done?

The UIBC test is performed as a simple blood test. Since its evaluation together with the hemogram (blood count) checked in almost all blood tests will be more useful for the correct interpretation of the UIBC results, all parameters such as blood count, iron-binding capacity, ferritin level showing iron stores, and serum iron level are generally requested by physicians together. Like all other blood tests, the UIBC test is performed on the blood sample taken from the veins of the arm, and in some cases, with the help of a thin needle, from the veins on the hand. Complications such as low blood pressure, blackout, fainting, swelling, and bruising in the area where the blood was taken may rarely develop after blood tests that do not pose any significant health risk. To minimize these possibilities, patients should sit and rest for a period of about ten minutes after blood collection, and press the area where blood is taken with clean cotton continuously for 5-10 minutes.

When is the UIBC test done?

The levels of proteins involved in issues such as red blood cells and white blood cells, hematocrit and hemoglobin levels, iron and iron storage, and transport are parameters that can be affected by many different diseases. For this reason, UIBC and hemogram tests are applied in the diagnosis and treatment processes of many diseases, especially anemias that develop due to iron deficiency and other factors. UIBC test should be applied in addition to other tests in cases such as all types of anemia, liver and kidney diseases, infections, recurrent thalassemia (Mediterranean anemia), pregnancy, use of birth control pills and all kinds of drugs that affect iron absorption, digestive system diseases, and blood loss. In patients with low or high unsaturated iron-binding capacity as a result of blood tests, further diagnostic tests should be performed primarily for the cause of this problem, and necessary precautions should be taken after determining the underlying diseases or problems related to lifestyle, and the treatment process should be initiated.

How are UIBC test results evaluated?

In healthy individuals, the UIBC value should be within certain ranges. Although the reference values ​​for this vary from person to person, according to the laboratory where the test is performed or the units used, there are reference ranges determined as averages. Just like the hemoglobin and hematocrit levels, the value range that the UIBC should have varies according to the female and male gender. The range of UIBC values ​​accepted as normal is 215-480 ug / dL in healthy women and 225-480 ug / dL in men. If the iron-binding capacity is below these values, it means low UIBC, and a higher UIBC means high. The values ​​obtained must be evaluated together with the serum iron level. The UIBC value should also be brought within normal ranges to maintain the balance regarding iron and iron stores in the blood. After the blood results obtained are evaluated by a specialist physician, an appropriate treatment plan is determined, drug support, nutritional planning, and all other necessary treatments can be applied to the patient’s health in most cases.

How are UIBC elevation and lowness treated?

Many patients who have had a blood test for any reason and who have seen a disorder related to the parameter called UIBC in their results, “What is UIBC in the blood and what does it’s high mean?” refer to physicians with questions such as. The low or high value of this value may be due to anemia due to inadequate and unbalanced nutrition, as well as a condition that can develop due to many types of acute or chronic diseases. For this reason, the patients whose UIBC values ​​are outside the normal ranges are firstly detailed history taken, and after the physical examination, further diagnostic tests are applied for the factor causing the disease. Low UIBC may develop due to factors such as hemochromatosis disease-causing iron accumulation in tissues, anemia due to iron accumulation, recurrent infections, liver and kidney diseases, gastrointestinal system diseases, excessive iron intake, Mediterranean anemia, and disorders related to B12 absorption. UIBC elevation is characterized by various types of anemia, drugs that are used continuously, pregnancy and breastfeeding, liver diseases such as hepatitis and similar liver diseases, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, blood loss due to accidents and injuries, excessive red blood cell production, polycythemia disease It may occur as a result of factors such as low weight. If nutritional errors are the cause of the impairment in the UIBC value, patients should be directed to a dietician and undergo nutritional education. If a different underlying health problem is determined as a result of the examinations, the UIBC level can be reduced to normal ranges as a result of the treatment to be applied for this disease.

If you see a low or high level of the parameter called UIBC in a blood test you have done, you should immediately apply to a health institution and undergo an examination. As a result of the recommendations to be given by your physician and the treatment to be performed, you can eliminate the complications caused by the deterioration in your blood values ​​by ensuring that your iron-binding capacity returns to normal. In addition, if you have not had any routine blood tests for more than 6 months, you can ask your doctor to perform a blood test that includes the UIBC value. With such precautions, you can take precautions against serious health problems you may encounter in the future and lead a healthier life.


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