Insulin 101: Types and Functions
With so many functions, it’s easy to see why insulin can be confusing if you don’t know much about it. So let’s start with the basics. Below, you’ll find information on some of the most common questions people have about this hormone and its associated conditions. If you still have questions after reading this article, feel free to ask in the comments section below.
Section 1: Introduction to Insulin
So, what’s Insulin?
Insulin, along with glucagon, are the two hormones that help regulate blood sugar levels. Glucagon helps the body convert glycogen into glucose, which it then uses as energy. In contrast, insulin helps transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells to be used for energy and stored as glycogen for later use. There are different types of insulin designed to work in different parts of the body and at different times, so let’s look at them in more detail.
Section 1: Types of Insulin
- Rapid-acting insulin works quickly in response to rising blood glucose levels, so it can counteract spikes in blood sugar after meals.
- Short-acting insulin is designed to work in between meals to help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day.
- Intermediate-acting insulin is designed to work in between meals, but its effects last longer than short-acting insulin. It’s used at night to help keep blood sugar levels stable while you sleep.
- Long-acting insulin is designed to work over a long period, helping to keep blood sugar levels stable between meals and overnight. It’s usually administered once or twice a day, depending on your needs.
- Premixed insulin is a mixture of different types of insulin designed to work in different parts of your body at different times.
- Detemir insulin is long-acting insulin absorbed slowly into your bloodstream, helping to keep blood sugar levels stable over 24 hours. It’s usually taken once daily at bedtime.
There are four main treatments that people with diabetes have available to them, each with its efficacy. Two of these are administered by doctors, while two are self-administered. The most common treatment is Tandem Diabetes insulin injections, which is exactly what it sounds like. An injection provides a burst of insulin into your body that begins right away and lasts for some time after you inject it.
Section 3: Functions
Function #1 – Fuel Partitioning
Insulin is a catabolic hormone. It helps mobilize glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids from the blood into the muscle, adipose tissue, and liver for storage.
Function #2 – Glycemic Control
Insulin helps to bring blood glucose levels back down after a meal. This is its most basic function, but it is nonetheless important.
Function #3 – Protein Synthesis and Growth
The release of insulin into your bloodstream signals to your body that you have eaten. This process tells your liver to produce a molecule called glycogen, which turns into glucose.
Function #4 – Fatty Acid Synthesis
Insulin stimulates fat synthesis. This includes the synthesis of triacylglycerols, cholesterol esters, phospholipids, diacylglycerols, and cholesteryl esters in adipose tissue.
If you want to have a normal blood sugar level, you’ll need to balance insulin intake with food consumption. If you have diabetes, it is important to work closely with a physician to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
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