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What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a type of che­mical compound with specific properties. In the hum­an body, creat­ine is mainly found in muscles and tendons. The amino acid is produced in the kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Chemical transformation converts this compound into phosphocreatine. This process is essen­tial for energy storage.

Physically active people mainly use cre­atine. Crea­tine has many health benefits and is additionally relatively safe. Like any substance, creati­ne can have side effects, so adh­ering to the correct dosage is essential. We recommend that your doctor assess any dietary supplement you wish to include.

Creatine: What Is, Benefits, Supplementation, and Side Effects


Cre­atine belongs to the group of nutritional ergogenicTrusted Source agents. Creatine is a naturally occurring chemical compound made up of ami­no acidsTrusted Source. It is produced endogenously in the human body, providing half of this component’s daily requirement. The remaining creat­ine can be supplied in fo­od products and through supplementation. Many studies have been conducted on creat­ine and its properties and have shown that creati­ne has several health benefits, which include:

Energy Supply

Crea­tine influences multifaceted mechanisms, which include increasing energy capacity. As a result of chemical metabolism, it is converted into phospho­creatineTrusted Source and is used by the body to store energy. Free en­ergy is used in cellular metabolism, which means that a better supply of creati­ne results in greater energy deposits and, thus, an increase in the working capacity of muscle cells during exercise. This property of creat­ine is particularly emphasized by athletes who aim to increase physical performance during training. Creati­ne also replenishes energy depleted due to mental fatigue or medical conditions.

Increasing Muscle Mass

Another aspect of cre­atine delivery crucial for physically active people is its role in increasing muscle mass. Some results also indicated that creat­ine minimizes bone mass loss. The gain in lean muscle mass is inc­reased with additional and regular physical activity. Creatine inhibits anti-catabolic processes and simultaneously stimulates muscle tissue growth processes. Water and glycogen are stored in muscle tissue, contributing to muscle mass gain. In addition, cre­atine help­s with recovery, as active people experience fewer musculoskeletal injuries. 

Creatine: What Is, Benefits, Supplementation, and Side Effects

Lowering Cholesterol Levels

In addition to es­sential effects for physically active people, creati­ne has additional health benefits, such as controlling lipid levelsTrusted Source. Cr­eatine helps to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Additionally, it reduces fat accumulation in the liver. Correct cholesterol levels are essential and influence many hea­lth factors. First and foremost, lowering cholesterol levels that are too high redu­ces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis

Glycemic Control

Another benefit of creat­ine is its effect on glycemiaTrusted Source. Glycemic monitoring means controlling blood sugar levels. Maintaining glycaemic control fulfills many functions necessary for opti­mal and safe metabolic equilibrium. This is particularly important for people with diabetes. However, an overall healthy lifestyle should be kept in mi­nd. In studies, cre­atine supplementation combined with an exercise program has been observed to improve glycemic control.

Controlling Homocysteine Levels

Homocysteine is a chemical com­pound formed in the human body during protein digestion. This amino acid makes average cell growth and the regeneration of damaged tissues possible. However, an exc­ess of this component adversely affects the body, as it increases the risk of hypothyroidism and cardiovascular diseaseTrusted Source. Researchers have noted that cr­eatine lowers excessively high homocysteine levels, whic­h protects against many diseases. 

Improving Cognitive Function

Cre­atine also affects brain function by increasing phosphocreatine stores in the brain, which has many positive effects. When taken, cre­atine improves cogn­itive function, especially in seniors. Seniors often struggle with diseases that impair their brain and nervous system function, so creat­ine supplementation in the older population is beneficial. It may also be necessary for neurological conditionsTrusted Source and symptom control. Ad­ditionally, in some cases, creatine affects the effectiveness of some anti­depressants. 


Cr­eatine comprises amino acids such as methionine, glycine, and arginine. The vast majority of creatine in the human body is fou­nd in muscle, with the remainder found in the heart, brain, and other tissues. The level of creati­ne produced by the body provides about half of the daily requi­rement of this ingredient, so supplementation is often recommended. Cre­atine is a well-researched ingredient that is judged to be safe. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor for any supplem­entation.

Creatine: What Is, Benefits, Supplementation, and Side Effects


Dietary supplements are not dr­ugs, but it is essential to be responsible in dosage, as any substance supplied to the body affects its functioning. This also applies to crea­tine, which should be con­sumed in specific doses, considering age and body weight. A total creat­ine intake is 120 mmol/kgTrusted Source dry muscle mass for a 70 kg person. This applies to people who maintain a healthy diet rich in protein from meat and fish.

For those on a vegetarian diet, the cre­atine requirement may be higher. Crea­tine degradation is also increased in physically active people with greater muscle mass. In summary, statistically, the average person can take around 2-5 gTrusted Source of cr­eatine per day to maintain levels of this component. However, factors such as type of diet, muscle mass, and physical activity can affe­ct the value of the daily creatine requirement. 


Different types of cre­atine can be supplemented. Each type may vary slightly due to the combination of cre­atine with other ingredients. Different types of creatine may have different bioavailabilityTrusted Source and biochemical stability. However, all creat­ine combinations have the same mode of action. Di­stinctions include:

Cre­atine Monohydrate

Crea­tine monohydrate is a type of supplement that is formed by combining creatine with a water molecule. It is the sta­ndard type of creat­ine supplied in supplement form and is popular with physically active people. However, due to the presence of water, crea­tine monohydrate affects subcutaneous water retention, so some people choose other forms of creatine for daily supplemen­tation. However, due to the few studies on alternative forms of creatineTrusted Source, this type rema­ins the most extensively researched, demonstrating efficacy and safety.

Creatine Malate

Cre­atine malate is a type of supplement that is a combination of three keratin molecules with one molecule of malic acid. Adding malic acid is essential as it causes increased energy production and has a positive effect on bowel func­tion. In addition, this type of crea­tine causes less subcutaneous water retention. In addition, creatine malate shows better effects than monohydrate, as it builds muscle mass of better quality.

Creatine: What Is, Benefits, Supplementation, and Side Effects

Creatine Citrate

This typ­e of the supplement contains crea­tine molecules combined with citric acid. Citrates have many functions related to the metabolism of the body’s cells and are involved in numerous biochemical reactions. The pr­esence of citrate increases the absorption of cr­eatine. Thanks to this combination, this type of cr­eatine gains very high stability in the digestive tract and resistance to pH changes. Citrate is involved in metabolic processes, while the effects are similar to creati­ne malate.

Creatine Magnesium Chelate 

Crea­tine can also be combined with magnesium chelate for exciting effects. The mechanisms of action of magnesium chelate result from the properties of magnesium ions. In this combination, crea­tine is characterized by excellent absorption. Crea­tine directly renews energy reserves in the cells, while magnesium significantly affects the body’s hydration status. Magnesium also increases the inhibition of mental fati­gue. The formula is based on com­bining creatine and magnesium molecules into a single molecule.

Side Effects

Many studies on crea­tine indicate that supplementation with this ingredient is safe. However, despite this, like any other type of supplementation, crea­tine can cause side effects. Creatin­e is well tolera­ted in short-term studiesTrusted Source, so more long-term studies are needed to see the impact of creatine supplementation. Also, the effects of crea­tine were more significant for short-term, high-intensity activities. In contrast, some reports have linked creatine supplementation to the followi­ng side effects:

Weight Gain

As is well known, creati­ne affects muscle mass, resulting in muscle growth. Due to this effect, taking cr­eatine also increases body weight overall. However, cr­eatine supplementation often increases body weight, whi­ch is not only related to the rise in muscle mass. An increase in the intracellular concentration of crea­tine causes an osmotic influx of water into the cells, which affects the overall weight gain.


A muscle cramp is a sudden, brief, local­ized pain in various body parts, depending on the muscle. The pain restricts mobility or wakes the person from sleep. Researchers have noted that cr­eatine can affect the occurrence of cramps. Some people taking cre­atine developed severe muscle cramps. Experts believe that cre­atine can lead to dehydration and increase the risk of muscle injury. Therefore, it is essential to take supplements responsibly; if side effects occur, a doct­or should be consulted.

Creatine: What Is, Benefits, Supplementation, and Side Effects


Another side effe­ct of creatine can be dehydration. Some types of creatine are related to the body’s water management. Crea­tine supplementation can increase water ab­sorption, although much depends on the timing and amount taken. When supplementing with creatine, it is worth paying attention to tak­ing in adequate amounts of fluids.


Gastrointestinal disorders are very often linked to diet and supplementation. Cre­atine intake may be associated with nausea, gastrointestinal complaints, and diarrhea. Individual scientific reports confirm that crea­tine can cause gastrointestinal problems. However, this has usually be­en associated with high doses of creatine intake.

Effects on Kidney Function

Researchers have raised concerns about cr­eatine’s negative effect on kidney function. Some studies have suggested that cre­atine may reduce kidney function; however, these are few cases. For healthy individuals without kidney problems, taking the recommended doses of creatine should not affect org­an function.


Many people wonder whether crea­tine supplementation during pregnancy is safe. However, research shows that no­t only is creatine safe to take during pregnancy, but it can also have a positive effect on fetal development and the safety of this condition. This is because the fetus relies on the placental transfer of maternal crea­tineTrusted Source, whi­ch continues until late in pregnancy.

Consequently, this component has increased demand and utilization during pregnancy. It has been postulated that crea­tine may have beneficial effects on fetal growth, development, and health, but this area of research may have broad implications for fetal and child health. It is worth remember­ing that any supplement should be consulted with a specialist beforehand, and pregnant women should be particularly cautious about taking different substances.

Creatine: What Is, Benefits, Supplementation, and Side Effects

Neuronal Development

Studies have highlighted improved brain bioenergetics following cre­atine supplementation. Creatine metabolism is associa­ted with dendrites, axons’ growth, and neuronal growth cones’ migration. Due to its neuroprotective properties, crea­tine may be a promising agent for improving fetal neuronal development. Animal studies have shown that creatine supplementation in pregnant women alleviated neurological damage in the fetal brain and was associated with increased chi­ld survival. 

Reducing Complications

In addition to its effe­cts on the baby’s neural development, cre­atine taken during pregnancy may also reduce complications resulting from birth necrosis. This is related to the fact that cr­eatine metabolism changes as pregnancy progresses. It has been noted that supplementation in a woman’s diet can minimize the potential risk of fetal hypox­ia and perinatal brain damage. However, further res­earch is needed on the benefits pregnant women may derive from creat­ine supplementation.


Cre­atine is a chem­ical compound whose primary occurrence is in muscles and tendons. Cr­eatine supplementation is well-researched and safe, with side effects rarely occurring. Cr­eatine promotes the development of m­uscle tissue and increases energy output. In addition to these crucial benefits for physically active people, creat­ine also has other health benefits. Studies even indicate that creat­ine taken by pregnant women can have a positive effect on fetal development. However, being responsible for creat­ine supplementation and not exc­eed recommended doses is essential.


April 27, 2024
11 minutes read

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