Low Hemoglobin Blood Levels


Recently somebody asked me about “what causes low hemoglobin level in the blood?” which I had no idea about. Therefore I did a brief research, here is what I found.

What is hemoglobin?

Healthline describes the “hemoglobin” as a protein that is found in our red blood cells which “carries oxygen to the rest of your body” and “transports carbon dioxide out of cells and back to lungs to be exhaled”.

The Mayo Clinic defines low hemoglobin counts as “anything below 13.5 grams per deciliter in men or 12 grams per deciliter in women”.

Hemoglobin levels

According to this SciceDirect article, hemoglobin levels in the young adults (male & female) is similar but differs as they begin getting matured.

… the mean hemoglobin level in healthy Caucasian children age 11 to 14 is 14.0 g/dl in boys and 13.5 g/dl in girls, with the same lower limit (95% range) of 12.0 g/dl [1]. For older adolescents age 15 to 19, the mean hemoglobin level in boys is 15.0 g/dl (lower limit 13.0 g/dl), whereas in girls it remains 13.5 g/dl (lower limit 12.0 g/dl).

The article discusses in hemoglobin levels in blood, it variations and factors affecting its level.

Possible causes of low blood hemoglobin

Cleveland Clinic website lists the following factors that affect hemoglobin levels:

  • “Your body doesn’t make enough red blood cells. Your body produces red blood cells and white blood cells in your bone marrow. Sometimes, conditions and diseases affect your bone marrow’s ability to produce or support enough red blood cells.
  • “Your body produces enough red blood cells, but the cells are dying faster than your body can replace them.
  • “You’re losing blood from injury or illness. You lose iron anytime you lose blood. Sometimes, women have low hemoglobin levels when they have their periods. You may also lose blood if you have internal bleeding, such as a bleeding ulcer.
  • “Your body can’t absorb iron, which affects your body’s ability to develop red blood cells.
  • “You’re not getting enough essential nutrients like iron and vitamins B12 and B9.

Other things listed, in addition to iron deficiency, that can cause low hemoglobin level include: liver problems, pregnancy, urinary tract infections.

How to increase blood hemoglobin levels?

According to this Healthline article, eating foods with high in iron and folate (see below) help increase blood with higher hemoglobin levels. Iron “plays an important role in hemoglobin production. A protein called transferrin binds to iron and transports it throughout the body. This helps your body make red blood cells, which contain hemoglobin.”

Folate is a B vitamin “that your body uses to produce heme, the part of your red blood cells that contains hemoglobin. Without enough folate, your red blood cells can’t mature. This can lead to folate deficiency anemia and low hemoglobin levels.”

  • Foods high in iron: Liver & organ meats, shellfish, broccoli, spinach, green beans, cabbage, beans & lentils, tofu, baked potatoes, fortified cereals ad enriched breads.
  • Foods with folate: Spinach, black-eyed peas, avocado, lettuce, rice, kidney beans and peanuts.

It is also recommended to take dietary supplements in consultation with Doctor. US National Institutes of Health recommends “men get up to 8 mg of iron per day, while women should get up to 18 mg per day. “

The Cleveland Clinic suggests eating “vitamin-rich balanced diet with a focus on important nutrients is the best way to maintain healthy red blood cells and hemoglobin”. Some suggested at home foods to help improve lower blood hemoglobin level include:

  • Red meat (beef) and meat from the organs, like liver.
  • Fish.
  • Leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach.
  • Lentils, beans and peas.
  • Nuts and dried berries.

In many cases, low blood hemoglobin can’t be manage at home with nutritional supplements only. It’s ideal to contact healthcare provider for further treatment options. Only treating the underlying cause of anemia will improve the hemoglobin level in the blood.

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