Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Molecules of sugar to a milligram

If you've been on the online diabetes community long enough, you've probably noticed that some of us use mg/dl as a measurement of blood sugar, while others of us use mmol/l. To convert blood sugar in mmol/l to mg/dl, you multiply by 18. OK, boring you so far.

Did you know that the conversion factor of 18 is specific to glucose? The conversion by 18 essentially says this: 10mmol/dl = 18 mg/dl. 10 mmol of sugar = 18 mg of sugar. A mmol, a milimole, is 602,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules. 
6,020,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of glucose weighs 18 mg.

That is why, when you look at converting something else from mg/dl to mmol/l or back (say, cholesterol) you'll have to multiply or divide by a number that's not 18 (in the case of cholesterol, 38).

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