Definition of International unit (IU)
International unit (IU): An international unit (IU) is an internationally accepted amount of a substance. This type of measure is used for the fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D and E) and certain hormones, enzymes, and biologicals (such as vaccines).
The definition of an international unit (IU) is generally arbitrary, technical, and eminently forgettable. For example, an IU of vitamin E is the specific biological activity of 0.671 milligrams of d-alpha-tocopherol. Nonetheless, most IUs are quite handy and helpful in use as a means of standardizing measures.
All international units are officially defined by the International Conference for Unification of Formulae.
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012
Back to MedTerms online medical dictionary A-Z List
Need help identifying pills and medications?
- Allergic Skin Disorders
- Bacterial Skin Diseases
- Bites and Infestations
- Diseases of Pigment
- Fungal Skin Diseases
- Medical Anatomy and Illustrations
- Noncancerous, Precancerous & Cancerous Tumors
- Oral Health Conditions
- Papules, Scales, Plaques and Eruptions
- Scalp, Hair and Nails
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
- Vascular, Lymphatic and Systemic Conditions
- Viral Skin Diseases
- Additional Skin Conditions