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Introduction to Glucose Regulation

Human Biology (Year 12) - Maintaining Glucose Balance

Ben Whitten

Why do glucose levels need to be maintained?

Blood glucose levels must remain constant to maintain metabolic processes in the cell (cellular respiration). All cells require a constant supply of glucose as it is a source of energy for the cell's activities (including movement, reproduction and synthesis.

If glucose levels are too low (hypoglycaemia) then cellular respiration and metabolism slows, energy levels drop which limits the cells activities. The brain is extremely susceptible to low levels of glucose, which can lead to metal confusion, unconsciousness and seizures.

If glucose levels are too high (hyperglycaemia), this can cause damage to nerves, kidneys and eyes.

What can glucose be used for?

Glucose can be derived from carbohydrates in the digestion process. Glucose comes from the digestive system via the hepatic portal vein to the liver where:

  • Glucose may be used by liver cellsGlucose may be converted to glycogen for storage in the liver or muscle cells

  • Glucose may circulate through blood for cellular use (cellular respiration)

  • Glucose may be converted into fat

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