Creatine is a natural substance found in the body that helps provide energy during muscle activity and is distinct from creatinine (a byproduct of protein metabolism that is increased in kidney failure).
Creatine supplements are widely used by athletes to improve physical performance (ergogenic).
- According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, creatine is a very effective supplement to improve endurance and exercise performance.
- The American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and American College of Sports Medicine support the ergogenic properties of creatine supplements.
- It is used by athletes involved in various sports, including swimming, weight lifting, cycling, soccer, and high jumps.
Creatine supplements can help athletes in many ways, such as:
- Improved exercise performance including high-intensity exercise performance
- Improved lean muscle mass and strength
- Better and faster post-exercise recovery
- Injury prevention, including prevention of cramps, dehydration, and bones and muscle injuries
- Better recovery from injuries
- Reduced injury severity
- Improved injury rehabilitation
- Increased training tolerance
- Improved tolerance to physical activity in high-temperature conditions
Proper usage of creatine supplements may protect athletes from severe injuries.
Besides its use in sports, creatine is used for the management of:
- Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, and muscular dystrophy
- Rehabilitation from injuries
- Inherited disorders of creatine metabolism or transport, such as guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT) deficiency and arginine-glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) deficiency
Creatine supplementation is being studied for various other conditions, such as sarcopenia or age-related muscle loss, brain and heart diseases, pregnancy, adolescent depression, and diabetes. One must, however, consult their doctor before taking creatine for any reason to avoid any undesirable effects.
What is creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the body. It is produced in the liver and kidney and is available in foods derived from animals, such as red meat, milk, and seafood. Thus, a vegan or vegetarian diet is typically devoid of creatine.
About 95 percent of the creatine in the body is stored in skeletal muscles (muscles that help the body move) and acts as an energy source during muscle activity. The brain and testes store a small amount of creatine.
What are the side effects of creatine?
Creatine is generally a safe supplement when taken under the recommended dosages. The most commonly reported side effect of creatine supplementation is weight gain.
There is, thus, a possibility of dietary supplements being contaminated with toxic substances, such as heavy metals. Some dietary supplements may contain harmful or prohibited substances, such as anabolic steroids. Hence, one must exercise caution and prefer buying supplements from reliable manufacturers.
Some of the possible side effects of creatine supplements include:
- Allergic reactions (hives, breathing difficulty, swelling over the face, tongue, or lips)
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Weight gain
- Worsening of liver or kidney disease
Creatine supplements must be avoided if one:
- Has kidney disease, diabetes, or heart diseases
- Is pregnant or breastfeeding
- Is aged older than 60 years
Avoid giving creatine to a child without consulting a pediatrician. A person should discuss with their doctor before taking creatine if they are using any other supplements or medications.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Buford TW, Kreider RB, Stout JR, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007;4:6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048496/
Kreider RB, Kalman DS, Antonio J, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14:18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5469049/
USADA. What Do Athletes Need to Know About Creatine? https://www.usada.org/spirit-of-sport/education/athletes-need-know-creatine/
Drugs.com. Creatine. https://www.drugs.com/creatine.html
Top Is Creatine Actually Good for You Related Articles
What Are the Benefits and Risks of Taking Amino Acid Supplements?Learn whether taking amino acids is of a greater benefit or risk to your overall health. Amino acids are building blocks of protein. The amino acids come together to form proteins.
Creatinine Blood TestCreatinine is a chemical waste molecule that is generated from muscle metabolism. Creatinine is produced from creatine, a molecule of major importance for energy production in muscles. Creatinine has been found to be a fairly reliable indicator of kidney function. As the kidneys become impaired the creatinine level in the blood will rise. Normal levels of creatinine in the blood vary from gender and age of the individual.
Healthy Living and Disease PreventionThe importance of a healthy lifestyle in disease prevention is widely understood and most people know that lifestyle changes and choices can be critical to good health. Learn about healthy behaviors that constitute healthy living.
Supplement Smarts: Best Ways to Take Different VitaminsTaking a vitamin supplement to cover your nutritional bases? Find out how and when to take it so your body gets the most from it.
Signs You're Low on Vitamin CWorried you're coming up short on vitamin C? Here are some telltale symptoms to watch out for.
Vitamin D QuizWhat happens to the body when there is a vitamin D deficiency? Take the Vitamin D Quiz to find out what you may be missing.
Vitamins and Calcium SupplementsVitamins are organic substances that are essential for the proper growth and functioning of the body. Calcium is a mineral essential for healthy bones and is also important for muscle contraction, heart action, and normal blood clotting. Check out the center below for more medical references on vitamins and calcium supplements, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
What Vitamins and Supplements Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?You should always clear it with your obstetrician before taking any vitamins or supplements while pregnant.
Vitamins QuizTake the Vitamins & Supplements Quiz to learn just how many essential vitamins your body needs to function!
Vitamins and Supplements: What Can You Take to Fight Inflammation?Arthritis, intense exercise, and sugary or fatty foods are some of the things that can lead to inflammation. Here’s what you can take or add to your diet to help fight it.
Signs You’re Low on Vitamin B12Your body needs vitamin B12 to keep blood cells healthy and to make your nerves work right. But what happens when you run low?
What Vitamins and Supplements Should I Take During Pregnancy?Even if you eat a variety of nutritious foods, you may need to take pregnancy vitamins and supplements. This is especially true if you have a restricted diet, are pregnant with twins or multiples, have food allergies, or nutrient deficiencies. Talk to your doctor about your needs.
Weight Loss Pills and Supplements: Do They Work?A bodyweight over the healthy limit is associated with several health conditions, such as diabetes, heart diseases, and certain cancers. According to health experts, long-term weight loss can be safely attained by making healthy lifestyle changes like healthy eating patterns, limiting calorie intake, and doing regular physical activity. Many people, however, are not able to make these healthy lifestyle changes.
What Are the Benefits of Creatine?Creatine is a popular supplement in the fitness industry for improving lean muscle mass, building stamina, and boosting exercise ability. Check out the center below for more medical references on building muscle, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related diseases, treatment, diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
What Causes High Creatinine Levels?A spontaneous elevation of creatinine may be caused by certain medications or dietary changes; however, persistently high creatinine levels could indicate kidney damage.
What Is the Best Vitamin Supplement to Take?Dietary supplements are a general term that includes vitamins, minerals, botanicals, probiotics and other products to supplement the diet. The best vitamin supplement differs from person to person depending on their gender, age and any health conditions they have.