Creatine

Advertisement - Scroll to continue

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

Benefits

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. 

Supplementation

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

Dosage

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. 

Types

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.

Cramps

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

Dehydration

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.

Diarrhea

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.

Pregnancy

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.

Summary

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.

Sources

April 27, 2024
11 minutes read
Advertisement

Table of Contents

Find a topic by its first letter
READ NEXT
Magnesium Glycinate: What Is, Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, and Deficiency
Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium glycinate is one of the safer forms of magnesium. Find out what functions the glycinate component has. Learn about… read more »

Magnesium: Benefits, Deficiency, and Dosage
Magnesium

Magnesium is an important mineral, essential for the human body. Learn about the symptoms of magnesium deficiency and how to… read more »

Rhabdomyolysis: What Is, Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
Rhabdomyolysis

Rhabdomyolysis is a disease in which skeletal muscle breakdown occurs, which is dangerous in its consequences. Learn about the causes… read more »

Dehydration: What Is, Causes, Symptoms, Signs, and Levels
Dehydration

Dehydration can cause many negative health effects. It is a common problem in children and seniors. Learn how to recognize… read more »

Leg Cramps: Diseases, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
Leg Cramps

Are you bothered by leg cramps? Find out what causes them. Learn about treatment methods and tips for this condition.… read more »

Sarcopenia: What Is, Signs, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
Sarcopenia

Sarcopenia is an issue that manifests as a reduction in skeletal muscle mass, leading to lesser strength and muscle ability. read more »

Vitamin B6: Amazing Benefits, Deficiency Signs and More
Vitamin B6

Body needs vitamin B6 for correct functioning. Check out, where you can find this vitamin. What are the signs of… read more »

Electrolytes: Important Functions, Deficiency, and Supplementing
Electrolytes

Electrolytes are salt ions necessary for good health. The proper functioning of the whole organism depends on their proper level.… read more »

Niacin: Vitamin B3
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin is needed for proper functioning. But niacin deficiency or overuse can have serious consequences. Learn all about vitamin B3… read more »

Advertisement
×