What is Transferrin Saturation - and why is it important to keep it at the correct levels?

Iron is absorbed into our bodies from the food we eat. Once it is within our blood stream the iron is transported around on a blood protein called transferrin. The best way to think of transferrin is as the car that carries the passenger (iron) around….it “transfers” the iron to where it is needed.

 Transferrin saturation also referred to as Tsat, is the measurement of how much iron that transferrin binds with to transport it around the body. In genetic haemochromatosis Tsats will be raised and results are reported as a percentage of saturation. The transferrin saturation of most people with haemochromatosis should be kept at 50% or less.

Some people diagnosed with haemochromatosis will be found to have very high transferrin saturation levels. The more “saturated” transferrin becomes with iron the higher the Tsat reading. There will come a point when the transferrin cannot  bind to any more iron (100%). When iron is bound to transferrin it is safe but once transferrin is saturated the iron is believed to be in a more dangerous free form and may cause organ damage. It is therefore important to have venesection to help reduce Ferritin and Tsats.

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