Why Should You Know About Concentrated Insulins?
Last updated: August 2021
For those of you who use insulin, and still struggle to see healthy blood sugars, it may be time to consider concentrated insulins.
Before I dive into concentrated insulins, let me give you a little background information. Non-concentrated insulins are formulated as U100. U100 insulin can be long-acting insulin like Lantus or Levemir, or it can be rapid-acting insulin, like Humalog or Novolog.
Consider U100 insulin your baseline to work from - a foundation for understanding the next set of information on concentrated insulins. One last piece of info...all insulin (concentrated or not) is delivered in doses called “units.”
Concentrated insulin for type 2 diabetes
Just like U100 insulin, concentrated insulins can also be long-acting or rapid-acting. They deliver your insulin dose in a lower volume of fluid (I’ll review the reason why this is so helpful shortly).1
A visual example of concentrated insulin
First, let me give a visual. Imagine two glasses of water. The first glass is full to the top and has 5 peas in it. We’re going to label this glass “U100 insulin.” The second glass is half full, again, with 5 peas in it. We’re going to label this glass “U200 insulin.” The peas represent your insulin dose, so each glass has the same dose of insulin. However, the dose is housed in a different amount of fluid. If you had to consume one of these glasses entirely to get your insulin dose, which one would be the easiest to do? Which one makes it more likely for your insulin doses to be consumed relatively at the same time? Which glass would be the most comfortable to consume all at once? The glass-half-full, right? (No pun intended!).
This visual is an example of U100 vs U200 insulin. However, there are even more concentrated insulins, such as U300 or U500. Imagine the second glass being a 1/3 full or a 1/5 full instead of half and still containing the 5 peas.
How do concentrated insulins help those with diabetes?
Concentrated insulins help in a number of different ways. Primarily, they help your body absorb insulin at a more consistent rate. Higher U100 insulin doses can be difficult for the body to absorb due to the volume of fluid that is needed to deliver that dose. That means your blood sugars can become more erratic and unpredictable. Also, for some, higher doses make injections more uncomfortable or more frequent. Switching to concentrated insulin can alleviate many of these issues. Finally, concentrated insulins, especially highly concentrated types, like U500, can help those with severe insulin resistance improve their glucose levels with lower costs and fewer injections.1-3
Dose conversions between U100 and concentrated insulins are necessary if you use insulin vials or very concentrated insulins like U500. Luckily, most concentrated insulins are now delivered by insulin pens, which convert doses for you. You need to use your insulin pen exactly as directed.
U500 is dosed entirely differently than traditional U100 dosing (or other concentrated dosing, for that matter). That means the timing and amount of your doses may be vastly different from your U100 routine. You’ll have to work closely with your medical team to support you in this transition.2
In general, you may be a great candidate for concentrated insulins if you take over 25 or 30 units per insulin injection. Also, if you take over 200 units of insulin in a day’s time, concentrated insulins may be the right fit for you.3
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?