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Definition of Ketone bodies

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ketone bodies: Chemicals that the body makes when there is not enough insulin in the blood and it must break down fat instead of the sugar glucose for energy. The ketone bodies -- acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate -- are toxic acidic chemicals. They build up in the blood and then spill over into the urine. The body can also rid itself of acetone through the lungs. This gives the breath a fruity odor.

The presence of ketone bodies in the blood is termed ketosis and the presence of ketone bodies in the urine is called ketonuria.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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