Insulin: Overview

Instructor: Kimberly Carpenter

Kimberly has an undergraduate degree in Lab Sciences and a Master's degree in Education.

Have you ever known someone with diabetes who had to take insulin intravenously? Insulin is an essential chemical that keeps our blood-sugar levels at a healthy level. Read on for more about insulin and its effects on the body.

Insulin Overview

Insulin has rightfully earned the reputation of being the 'body's regulator' because this substance, produced by the pancreas, has the responsibility of keeping the blood sugar within a normal range. Insulin is the regulator that allows the sugar from the foods we eat (be it a piece of cake or a stick of celery) to enter our tissues and become part of the metabolic process.

The Effects of Insulin

Let us stop for a moment and consider the importance of insulin in the regulation of our body's function. For example, if you eat a piece of chocolate candy, there will be a large amount of sugar immediately released into the body. If there is no action performed by the body to help offset this immediate release of sugar into the system, the consequences could be dangerous. This is where insulin comes into play.

The Pancreas

Insulin is made by the Islets of Langerhans, which are found in the pancreas of every person. As we previously mentioned, insulin is released when needed to keep the body regulated and help keep the blood-sugar balance in check. Once that piece of chocolate begins to be metabolized by the body, the pancreas releases enough insulin to offset the amount of sugar that will be introduced into the body so that there will be no negative outcomes (such as problems with high blood sugar).

When Insulin Does Not Function Properly

There are times, however, when insulin is not released from the pancreas to counter the introduction of sugar into the blood and keep the body within its normal balance. This happens either if a person is born with a pancreas that doesn't function properly (Type I diabetes) or if a person has become resistant to the amount of insulin needed to keep the amount of sugar stable in the body (Type II diabetes).

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