Q&A: All Things Hemoglobin

Q: When I was donating blood, the technician checked my hemoglobin. What is hemoglobin?

Here is Indiana Blood Center‘s detailed answer:

A: Hemoglobin is the iron-containing pigment of red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body.

A: It is important to know your hemoglobin result because Indiana Blood Center wants to make sure your iron levels are adequate, and that taking some of your blood will not leave you with too little iron, leading to a condition called anemia.

A: The normal hemoglobin range is 14-18 g/dL in men and 12-16 g/dL in women. A donor must have a hemoglobin value of at least a 12.5 g/dL to safely donate whole blood.

A: You can help maintain a healthy hemoglobin level by eating a diet rich in iron, and avoiding iron-reducing foods.

    • Examples of iron-boosting foods include beans, spinach, beef, shrimp, tomatoes, broccoli, rice, peas, watermelon and potatoes.
    • Examples of iron-reducing foods include chocolate, caffeinated beverages and high calcium-containing foods.

A: Your hemoglobin level can fluctuate frequently, even on a daily basis. So, if you are deferred from donation due to a low hemoglobin level, please try again. Low hemoglobin is the most common reason for deferral. We encourage you to follow the dietary tips above and try again soon!

If you have a question, ask here. You can also check out our long list of FAQs here.

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