The hemoglobin is a blood protein, which is part of the group of hemeproteins, whose main function is to scavenge oxygen acquired level lung, primarily in the cells and transport to other tissues and organs, and collecting the carbon dioxide content in the other tissues and take it to the lungs to be expelled through these.

This protein, found within erythrocytes, is used in the laboratory for routine or diagnostic tests when a disease is suspected. It is called hemeprotein because its composition is made up of a main group designated by the name of “heme”, which is, in short, the iron molecule that is part of this substance.

What is the function of hemoglobin in the body?

Hemoglobin, like all substances in the body, has certain functions, which are in fact important and must be known, which is why we mention them here:

Hemoglobin in oxygen transport

Oxygen is a vital substance for the correct functioning of the organism, in the absence of it, our body would not have the possibility to carry out its essential functions such as, for example, division and replication of cells, obtaining energy at the muscular level, and transmission of neural signals in our brain.

That is why the main function of hemoglobin, as already mentioned, is the transport of oxygen, this protein is responsible for taking the oxygen present in the lungs and distributing it through the blood to all organs, tissues and cells. , so that they can carry out all their activities with integrity.

Hemoglobin in the transport of carbon dioxide

In the same way and in a coordinated way, this hemoprotein participates in the elimination of carbon dioxide discarded by each tissue, collecting it and transporting it to the lungs where it will later be eliminated.

All this complex process allows the body to release this toxin or waste product that contaminates the body in large quantities.

Hemoglobin provides the color of blood

The aforementioned “heme” group is responsible for providing the characteristic red color of blood. For its part, the blood can have different shades of red, be brighter or darker, this is mainly due to the amount of oxygen that the protein is transporting at the moment.

So when hemoglobin is carrying large and sufficient amounts of oxygen, the color of the blood will be a bright or glittering red. On the other hand, when hemoglobin has captured carbon dioxide from the tissues and transports it, its color will be darker, almost black, as defined, the first being arterial blood, and the second being venous blood.

Hemoglobin preserves the shape of erythrocytes

Under completely normal conditions, red blood cells are biconcave, that is, disk-shaped, without a center, this is thanks to the fact that a part of hemoglobin is responsible for maintaining that shape and structure.

That is why, when there are decreases in hemoglobin in the body, and there is some type of anemia established, the shape of the erythrocytes changes and at the microscopic level they can be observed deformed or abstract, thus becoming pale and deformed red blood cells. In this way, its function and flow through the bloodstream can be altered.

Normal hemoglobin values

  • Hemoglobin is the main substance that allows us, through its values, to rule out or diagnose different diseases, the most frequent, anemia and its variants. Their values ​​change, according to some characteristics of the person, for example:
  • Age.
  • Sex.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Geographic location.

It is vitally important to know your normal values:

Hemoglobin according to age

In older people, hemoglobin values ​​are higher than in children or babies; the reference values ​​are:

  • Babies: 9.5 to 13 g / dL.
  • Older adult: greater than 13 g / dL.

Hemoglobin according to sex

Women, due to their hormonal changes and blood loss through the menstrual cycle, tend to have lower hemoglobin values ​​than men, therefore, the values ​​that are taken into account are:

  • Men: 14 to 18 g / dL.
  • Women: 12 to 16 g / dL.

Hemoglobin in pregnancy

During pregnancy, hemoglobin values ​​tend to fall, it is important to perform the pertinent laboratory tests periodically to make a record. Keeping in mind and complying with the recommendations given by the specialist helps to maintain the protein values ​​throughout this wonderful stage for women.

Maintaining stable hemoglobin values ​​during pregnancy helps the baby’s growth and proper formation, since he also needs iron for the proper functioning of his tissues, organs and systems.

Hemoglobin according to geographic location

People who live in areas with higher altitudes tend to have higher hemoglobin values, this is because in these areas, there is less oxygen that can be captured by the body, but this as it is so wise in its operation , increases the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin, in order to somehow amplify the uptake and transport of oxygen by having a greater amount of hemoglobin molecules available for this work.

Reference hemoglobin values ​​can change according to the laboratory where the tests are performed, but they always have a range of similarity from one laboratory to another.

What to do in case of low hemoglobin?

There are different situations in which hemoglobin can be decreased in the body, such as anemia, digestive bleeding without significant signs or symptoms or heavy menstrual bleeding, in all these cases it is important to know what to do.

The first thing to do is attend the doctor to find out the main cause of this alteration, also follow his instructions so that these values ​​return to normal.

Naturally and at home, following some recommendations is not too much, among them, the consumption of liver, fish, beets and guava as they contain iron. And although only 10% of all the iron contained in food is absorbed, a change in diet can be significant, other foods are:

  • Red meats of veal, ox.
  • Lentils.
  • Seafood like clams and mussels.
  • Nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios.
  • Green vegetables, chard, spinach, watercress.

What to do in case of high hemoglobin?

On the contrary, hemoglobin in the blood can be increased by conditions such as:

  • Smoking habits.
  • Dehydration
  • Pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Congenital heart disease.

Its very high values ​​can also have certain consequences or be triggers of some cardiovascular pathologies, such as: heart attack, angina pectoris, thrombotic complications, nosebleeds, serious respiratory infections, among others. Hemoglobin values ​​greater than 20g / dl are considered high, and to decrease these values, one must:

  • Healthy patients , and without any contagious pathology, are recommended to donate blood, in order to reduce the viscosity of the blood and avoid complications.
  • Quitting smoking is one of the indications for patients with smoking habits, it is effective when the sole cause of the increase in hemoglobin is considered.
  • If there is a diagnosed cause , the treatment of that pathology is primarily necessary.

What does iron do in hemoglobin?

Iron is the main component of hemoglobin, it allows this protein to perform its different functions effectively, thanks to it:

  • Oxygen is transported.
  • Different metabolic reactions are carried out.
  • Blood has its red pigmentation.
  • The waste carbon dioxide is transported for disposal.

This is why in various countries the implementation of nutritional substitutes with iron in their diet has become mandatory.

Hemoglobin test

The hemoglobin test is very simple, performed in a laboratory, and does not require extensive preparation. The laboratory analyst will require the extraction of a blood sample to perform the procedure, some people report a stinging or pricking sensation, but these disappear very soon.

This test is performed to control or monitor hemoglobin values, or to diagnose any disease, the most frequent when these values ​​decrease is anemia, however, it can be due to different causes, so the treatment is different after of diagnosed any of its variants.

What is the importance of hemoglobin in the blood?

This protein provides the body with the uptake and distribution of the most important substance for the basic functions of the body, oxygen, hence its importance. Maintaining the proper values ​​of hemoglobin in the blood is necessary to be active, dynamic and attentive to perform during the day to day.


Hemoglobin, a protein with multiple but vital functions, is necessary for the body, acting as a vehicle for oxygen, its main function. Any alteration in its values ​​serves as a warning to suspect some type of alteration in the body, or of some disease. If you had exams and you notice altered hemoglobin, go to the specialist for a professional opinion.

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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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