Hemoglobin is protein found in the blood of all vertebrates. Even invertebrates have this protein in the body, not in the blood cells, but in the tissue. This protein is very rich in iron, especially the part of hemoglobin known as hematin. The protein part of hemoglobin is called globin.
The most important role of this blood protein is to transport oxygen from the lungs to all cells and tissues of the body. Additionally, hemoglobin takes byproduct of tissue metabolism (carbon dioxide) and transfers it to the lungs, to be exhaled from the body. Since both of these processes are immensely important for the functioning of the human organism, hemoglobin can be considered as one of the most important proteins in the body.
How Much Hemoglobin is Normal
Adult males normally have around 13.5 to 16.5 g/dl of hemoglobin in the blood. For adult women, hemoglobin count is slightly lower, and they should have about 12.1 and 15.1 g/dl. Pregnant women, however, normally have a lower hemoglobin count than women in general, around 11 to 12g/dl of hemoglobin. Normal hemoglobin count for children goes from 11 up to 16 g/dl.
When a person has less hemoglobin in the blood than he should have, according to his age and gender, we say that he is suffering from anemia. Possible causes of anemia include iron deficiency (as the most common cause), chemotherapy drugs, worm infestation, kidney failure, bone marrow problems or sickle cell anemia. Lack of iron is one of the most common reasons for anemia. Red blood cells are usually much smaller without iron, and don’t have their characteristic red color. Diets very low in iron, or blood loss, due to the piles or ulcers, may lead to iron deficiency and anemia.
Can You Increase Your Hemoglobin
A low hemoglobin count can be improved, and the course of treatment mainly depends on the cause of the medical problem. When the person suffers from anemia provoked by lack of iron, doctors mostly recommend eating plenty of food rich in iron or taking some of iron supplements. More serious anemias are treated with blood transfusions.
Iron can be found in both plant and animal products, but some claim that animal sources of iron are better for people suffering from anemia. So, you can eat plenty of red meat, beef, pork, chicken, liver, fish and shell fish, because these products are proven to contain plenty of iron. Also, you can take plenty of iron if you are vegetarian, by eating: green leaves, dark vegetables, beans, dried fruits, eggs and different nuts.
Avoid coffee, tea, food rich in calcium and fibers, chocolate and medications such as antacids and phosphate drugs, because these substances can block your ability to absorb iron from other food sources. Vitamin C supplements can help if this happens, since it can increase the absorption of iron and thus increase level of hemoglobin in your blood as well.