Short acting insulins will usually be taken before meals. Short acting insulins may also be called regular or neutral insulin. Your healthcare team can advise on how long before a meal you should take your dose.

Short acting insulins are not as quick to act as rapid acting insulins and therefore may be more appropriate in certain people.

What type of insulin is a short acting insulin?

Short acting insulins are generally either animal or human insulins and will generally be injected via syringe or insulin pen. Someone taking short acting insulin should aware of the risk of hypoglycemia


Novo Nordisk did produce Actrapid preloaded pens, cartridges and vials for the UK insulin market. However, due to commercial reasons they have discontinued both the pens and cartridges as from January 2006.

Actrapid itself is human soluble insulin.

When it enters the body, it works in the same way as natural insulin and increases overall ability for the body to uptake glucose.

Soluble, or neutral, insulin such as Actrapid is fast-acting (usually between 30 minutes and an hour) and lasts for approximately eight hours depending on dose.

Soluble insulin is usually used before a meal, and controls postprandial blood glucose levels

Despite being called Actrapid, it is classified as a short acting insulin rather than a rapid acting insulin.

Soluble insulin such as Actrapid can sometimes be combined with other types of insulin (longer-lasting) to provide overall control through the day. With all insulin types it is worth bearing in mind that the stricter control exercised over diabetes, the less likely it is to develop into serious complications

Humulin S

Humulin S is a short acting human insulin, produced by Eli Lilly & Co, which will usually be taken 20 to 45 minutes before eating. It’s peak activity occurs after about 30 minutes and last for approximately 2 hours. It’s activity then tails over the next 3 or 4 hours.


Velosulin is manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk.

The active component in velosulin is neutral or soluble insulin. Following an injectio, Velosulin works quickly (between 30 minutes and an hour), and may last for approximately 8 hours.

Common medical thinking dictates that Velosulin should be taken immediately prior to eating, between 15 and 30 minutes before a meal, so post-prandial spikes may be better controlled.

Often, short-acting insulin such as Velosulin is given in conjunction with intermediate-acting or longer-acting insulin.

Hypurin neutral

Hypurin neutral is a short acting animal insulin which is available as Hypurin Porcine neutral (pork insulin) or Hypurin Bovine Neutral (beef insulin).Hypurin neutral insulin will generally taken approcimately half an hour before eating and has a peak action between 2 and 5 hours after injecting

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