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Insulin Kinds of insulin, action profiles, use in dogs, where to buy, etc.

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Old 03-31-2008, 02:42 PM
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Default Unit of Insulin: What is that?

So what the heck is an International Unit (IU) anyway?


"In pharmacology, the International Unit is a unit of measurement for the amount of a substance, based on measured biological activity or effect.

"The precise definition of one IU differs from substance to substance and is established by international agreement for each substance. There is no equivalence among different substances; for instance, one IU of vitamin E does not contain the same number of milligrams as one IU of vitamin A.

"To define an IU of a substance, the Committee on Biological Standardization of the World Health Organization provides a reference preparation of the substance, arbitrarily sets the number of IUs contained in that preparation, and specifies a biological procedure to compare other preparations of that substance to the reference preparation. The goal in setting the standard is that different preparations with the same biological effect will contain the same number of IUs."

The mass equivalents of 1 IU for selected substances are:

Insulin: 1 IU is the biological equivalent of about 45.5 μg pure crystalline insulin (1/22 mg exactly)

So while one IU of Vitamin A does not equal one IU of Vitamin E, one IU of Vitamin A does equal one IU of Vitamin A anywhere in the world. One IU of insulin, no matter what it's type, species or strength, has to equal that 45.5 micrograms of pure crystalline insulin as the standard no matter who makes it or where in the world it's produced.

What's the criteria for an International Unit of Insulin?


Page 6

An IU of insulin must lower the bg's of a healthy 2 kg rabbit fasted for 24 hours to a reading of 45 mg/dL in 5 hours.

The link is to a chapter of "Insulin Dependent Diabetes in Children, Adolescents and Adults", by Dr. Ragnar Hanas, who is a pediatrician in Sweden. She generously donated this copy of her book to the website Children With Diabetes.

Even though it's geared toward people, there's a lot people with diabetic pets can learn from it also. Page 5 explains how insulin must break down from its hexamer form into smaller parts called dimers and monomers before it can go into the bloodstream and begin the work of lowering bg's.

Page 6 explains why larger insulin doses have a stronger effect and last longer and why less concentrated insulin is absorbed faster, thus going to work faster than a more concentrated one.

She covers an aspect of insulin's day to day variability in pages 10 and 11 with the Insulin Depot. Dr. Hanas has written this as if she's talking with you--not "at" you--about diabetes. Through the various things such as children's sleepovers and birthday parties, she reminds everyone that life doesn't stop because of diabetes--and that's another thing caregivers of diabetic pets need to keep in mind too.
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