Health Glossary - For Everyone

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What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that is produced within the islets of Langerhans of the pancreas, which is an organ in the gastro-intestinal tract, located behind the liver. The pancreas, while not an endocrine organ, has endocrine tissue and functionality.

When carbohydrates are digested they are broken down to glucose and absorbed into the bloodsteam. The pancreas detects the spike in glucose (by sampling the blood that passes through it) and secretes insulin in response, which gives the signal that the extra glucose should be taken into the skeletal muscles and other cells.

Insulin targets most cells in the body, binds to them and activates receptors to allow the cells to absorb the extra glucose that is circulating in the blood.


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Important insulin facts

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Why insulin is important

Insuling provokes a wide range of important actions:

Insulin resistance is a pre-diabetic condition which means that the cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, after which the pancreas secretes more insulin to compensate for the fact that the cells are not absorbing glucose properly.

Another effect of insulin resistance is that there are high levels of glucuse in the blood. After some time of this, the pancreas becomes unable to keep up with the requirement of insulin (to remove the glucose from the blood stream and get it take into the cells) and type 2 diabetes is the result.


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Last reviewed: 30 September 2007 || Last updated: 14 March 2010


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More information

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NOTE: Mega doses of any type of vitamin, mineral, amino acid or herbal supplement cannot cure illnesses and in fact can be very dangerous and produce toxic side effects and interfere with medicine you are taking. Always ensure you consult your doctor before taking any type of complementary supplements.
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. For any treatment or diagnosis of illness, please see your doctor.


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