Blood also carries nutrients to the organs of the body to make sure they have enough fuel to function and materials to grow. Cells require a source of energy, in most cases this is a form of sugar called glucose. Cells can also use fatty acids (from fats in our diet) or amino acids (from protein) for energy, but also require these for the construction of new cells or internal mechanisms.
Glucose is regulated to a very high degree by insulin, because too little blood glucose (hypoglycaemia) or too much blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) can make someone very unwell. Having too little glucose in the blood means that cells can no longer function and will shut down. This can cause confusion, unconsciousness and eventually death. Having too much glucose can cause similar problems at extreme levels, but even minor elevation of blood glucose can damage the small vessels of the body. This is why diabetes is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and peripheral vascular disease. If cells cannot get enough glucose to fuel their activities, they can use fatty acids, but these create toxic by-products called ketones to be produced. These can be found in the urine and breath and can be an indicator of hypoglycaemia. Ketones can have a fruity smell or can smell like acetone or nail polish.
Ketones can also be produced when patients follow some diets, and can be tested for with either blood tests or urine tests. Both are available for purchase from UFS, and our pharmacists are available at all times to discuss any health matters.