What is hemoglobin?

Hemoglobin is a substance in red blood cells that makes it possible for blood to transport (carry) oxygen throughout the body. (Hemoglobin is what gives red blood cells their color.)

What are normal hemoglobin levels?

Normal hemoglobin levels for men is between 14.0 and 17.5 grams per deciliter (gm/dL); for women, it is between 12.3 and 15.3 gm/dL.

Who is most likely to develop iron-deficiency anemia?

Anyone can develop iron-deficiency anemia, although the following groups have a higher risk:

  • Women, because of blood loss during monthly periods and childbirth
  • People over 65, who are more likely to have diets that are low in iron
  • People who are on blood thinners such as aspirin, Plavix®, Coumadin®, or heparin
  • People who have kidney failure (especially if they are on dialysis), because they have trouble making red blood cells
  • People who have trouble absorbing iron

How can I know if I have low hemoglobin?

Your healthcare provider can perform blood tests to check your hemoglobin level and to tell if you have anemia. The type and number of blood tests will depend on what type of anemia is suspected.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/02/2018.


  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Anemia. Accessed 2/15/2018.
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your Guide to Anemia. Accessed 2/15/2018.
  • American Society of Hematology. Anemia. Accessed 7/1/2020.
  • American Association for Clinical Chemistry/Lab Tests Online. Hemoglobin. Accessed 2/15/2018.

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