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Health is the meter of endurance in all versions of Minecraft. (The player's health is represented by the number of hearts he/she has.) It measures the damage taken by mobs, TNT, or other things that could kill or hurt the player (only during Survival Mode and Adventure Mode).
The health bar is located beside the Hunger Meter, and above the Experience Meter. When your Hunger Meter is at 9.5 or completely full, you will slowly regain your health. When your health is very low, your health bar will start shaking. The speed that the player's health regenerates varies depending on the Difficulty the game is on. The player has 10 hearts which is equal to 20 points of health, as 1 heart counts for 2 points of health.
Death can happen when a player lost all of his/her health. A death screen will appear and will offer the choice of respawning (go back to original spawn point or bed), or back to the main title screen (but the death screen will still be there). But in hardcore, gameover, you cannot respawn, only delete the world.
This is a table showing how much health each mob has. When their health runs out they die. They can die from lava, fall damage, drowning, suffocation, and from other mobs. For example, a creeper may attack a skeleton if its arrow hits the creeper.