- Creatine is a chemical that is normally found in the body, mostly in muscles. It is made by the body and can also be obtained from certain foods. Fish and meats are good sources of creatine. Creatine can also be made in the laboratory.
- Creatine is most commonly used for improving exercise performance and increasing muscle mass in athletes and older adults. There is some science supporting the use of creatine in improving the athletic performance of young, healthy people during brief high-intensity activity such as sprinting. But older adults don’t seem to benefit. Creatine doesn’t seem to improve strength or body composition in people over 60.
- Creatine use is widespread among professional and amateur athletes and has been acknowledged by well-known athletes such as Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and John Elway. Following the finding that carbohydrate solution further increases muscle creatine levels more than creatine alone, creatine sports drinks have become popular.
- Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and professional sports. However, the NCAA no longer allows colleges and universities to supply creatine to their students with school funds. Students are permitted to buy creatine on their own and the NCAA has no plans to ban creatine unless medical evidence indicates that it is harmful. With current testing methods, detection of supplemental creatine use would not be possible.
- In addition to improving athletic performance, creatine is used for congestive heart failure (CHF), depression, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, diseases of the muscles and nerves, an eye disease called gyrate atrophy, and high cholesterol. It is also used to slow the worsening of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease), rheumatoid arthritis, McArdle’s disease, and for various muscular dystrophies.
- Creatine is involved in making the energy muscles need to work.
- Vegetarians and other people who have lower total creatine levels when they start taking creatine supplements seem to get more benefit than people who start with a higher level of creatine. Skeletal muscle will only hold a certain amount of creatine; adding more won’t raise levels any more. This “saturation point” is usually reached within the first few days of taking a “loading dose.”
- Creatine is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately for up to 5 years.
- When taken by mouth in high doses, creatine is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. There is some concern that it could harm the kidney, liver, or heart function. However, a connection between high doses and these negative effects has not been proven. Creatine can also cause stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and muscle cramping.
- Creatine causes muscles to draw water from the rest of your body. Be sure to drink extra water to make up for this. Also, if you are taking creatine, don’t exercise in the heat. It might cause you to become dehydrated.
- Many people who use creatine gain weight. This is because creatine causes the muscles to hold water, not because it actually builds muscle.
- There is some concern that combining creatine with caffeine and the herb ephedra (also called Ma Huang) might increase the chance of having serious side effects such as stroke.
- There is concern that creatine might cause irregular heartbeat in some people. But more information is needed to know if creatine can cause this problem.
- There is concern that creatine might cause a skin condition called pigmented purpuric dermatosis in some people. But more information is needed to know if creatine can cause this problem.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of creatine during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
- Kidney disease or diabetes: Do not use creatine if you have kidney disease or a disease such as diabetes that increases your chance of developing kidney disease. There is some concern that creatine might make kidney disease worse.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination:
- Medications that can harm the kidneys (Nephrotoxic Drugs) interacts with CREATINE:
Taking high doses of creatine might harm the kidneys. Some medications can also harm the kidneys. Taking creatine with medications that can harm the kidneys might increase the chance of kidney damage.
Some of these medications that can harm the kidneys include cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); aminoglycosides including amikacin (Amikin), gentamicin (Garamycin, Gentak, others), and tobramycin (Nebcin, others); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, others), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), piroxicam (Feldene); and numerous others.
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Source: WebMD, “Creatine”, http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/