# Is a unit of insulin a unit of insulin?

Quick question for everyone that I can't seem to find the answer to, maybe my info hunting skills need an upgrade...but... Is a unit of insulin a unit of insulin? Meaning....

All things being equal, body chemistry aside, duration, time action begins, etc... Does a unit of lets say levimir, equal a unit of novolog in terms of ISF and or I/C ?

To further explain, if you take 20 units of levimir and it's "supposed" to last 24 hours, so 20 units divided by 24 hours gives you 0.83.

That 0.83 units of levimir an hour, is that the same as if you were to give yourself 0.83 units of novolog an hour (time of onset, duration, etc withstanding)... Will both have the same effect on BG correction and or offsetting carbs?

I hope I am making myself clear, this is the only way I can think to explain my question. Thank you in advance, I am so grateful to have these forums to help with questions and to learn from.

TIA!

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### Replies to This Discussion

The idea is that you're getting 'x' amount per hour because the long acting insulins release slowly over time...

A similar amount per hour is probably absorbed, but not necessarily the same amount.. Maybe when we have nanobots we can inject to regulate how much insulin we're getting per hour, it will work that way..

I am not making my question clear. It is a "what if" but thats okay I appreciate everyone trying to help. Thank you!

I think I understand what you're asking, but I would not think it would be the same at all. Yes it is the same technical amount of insulin that should do the same technical job, but because it is formulated differently, it has a slower onset and lasts longer..

So I guess if you wanted to set up a study to look at this, you'd want two completely separate days separated by a certain amount of time to try and normalize results. If your TDD was 24u, you'd take 1 unit of Humalog every hour, on the hour, for 24 hours. Then you would go back to a normal regime for a few weeks to get regulated properly again and then do 1 unit of Lantus/Levemir every hour, on the hour, for 24 hours. It would probably also be better if you were fasted for those 24 hours so you don't have food confounding the results. You'd probably have to test your BG at least every hour to see how it is responding to your repeated administrations. You'd have to eat similarly and maintain the same exercise level too.

But eh- a unit is a unit is a unit is a unit, at least as far as these two types of insulins go. I do not believe they are going to do the same thing to your blood glucose, mostly because they peak in a very different manner and the sharper that peak, the more your BG will drop...

Kinda see that with antibiotics... short acting penicillins are pretty much like BAM- hit the system with one hard pop and then they kinda pitter out. You're trying to achieve a certain concentration in the bloodstream in this case; and you DO achieve it, it's just more of a hard hitter all at once...

With long acting penicillins they take a little bit longer to build up in the system (they don't go BAM!)... BUT they do reach the level required in the bloodstream for killing infection or whatever else is going on. And after that, it will stay at that concentration for a longer period of time...

Anyway... that's what I think about it... hope you find your answer.

Insulin is measured in units, abbreviated U
(international units, previously abbreviated IU).
One unit of insulin is defined as the amount of
insulin that will lower the blood glucose of a
healthy 2 kg (4.4 lb) rabbit that has fasted for
24 hours to 2.5 mmol/l (45 mg/dl) within 5
hours.

If you read Bliss's "The Discovery of Insulin", when Eli Lilly was standing up their first plants for the processing of insulin, they rounded up nearly every rabbit in Indiana and adjoining states for the purpose of testing their formulations :-)

So rabbits are a lot more consistent than humans?? You definitely couldn't use humans in a similar equation!

I never had Lantus/ Levimir but noticed that pumping Novolog was a ***tremendous*** improvement over shooting NPH, like within a couple of hours of pumping I could tell.

Found a helpful chart that can explain some of the insulins and how the work, but it's going to be different for each person as well. That's the crazy thing about this disease. As much as we want it to be an exact science, it isn't. If we could plug in a formula to figure everything out, we could have perfect control all the time. Well, here is the link and good luck.

The answer to your question is, "No!" 1.0U of Levermir is not the same as 1.0U of Novolog. This is because of the timing of the active period for each.

The measurement in volume is the same.

Volume isn't the same of insulin "activity". Remember the old days of U-40? U-100 is 250% as potent for the same volume. And U-500 (which is available today) is 1200% as potent as the same volume of U-40.

As far as I can figure out... the definition of insulin activity is still the good old rabbit unit!

Tim,

Yes, correct. I meant to say the volume of U-100 units are the same (or U-40 units, etc.)

When we used U-40, we had to use syringes designed for U-40 insulin. During the transition to U-100, there was a lot of emphasis to make sure you used the right syringes for the insulin, or you would get an incorrect dose.

OK, did some googling, and found a nice summary written almost 90 years ago. I think in my first response I was referring to the "Banting and Best rabbit method" where they actually measure the bg of the rabbit. The Eli Lilly method of testing for a unit of potency, was a little more primitive: if 75% of the rabbits were having convulsions from hypos, it was a unit!!!! No wonder they needed so many rabbits!!! The Rabbit Method of Standardizing Insulin

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