Creatine is a chemical that is found in the body. It is found mostly in muscles but also in the brain. It is also found in foods such as red meat and seafood. 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. Because of this, creatine is often used as a dietary supplement to improve muscle strength and athletic performance. In the U.S., a majority of sports nutrition supplements, which total $2.7 billion in annual sales, contain creatine.
Creatine use is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and professional sports.
In addition to improving athletic performance and muscle strength, creatine is taken by mouth for creatine deficiency syndromes that affect the brain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia, Huntington's disease, disease that cause inflammation in the muscles (idiopathic inflammatory myopathies), Parkinson's disease, diseases of the muscles and nerves, multiple sclerosis, muscle atrophy, muscle cramps, breathing problems in infants while sleeping, head trauma, Rett syndrome, an eye disease called gyrate atrophy, inherited disorders that affect the senses and movement, schizophrenia, muscle breakdown in the spine, and recovery from surgery. It is also taken by mouth to slow the worsening of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease), osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, McArdle's disease, and for various muscular dystrophies.
People apply creatine to the skin for aging skin.
How it works
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."
Possibly EffectiveAthletic performance
Creatine seems to help improve rowing performance, jumping height, and soccer performance in athletes. But the effect of creatine on sprinting, cycling, or swimming performance varies. The mixed results may relate to the small sizes of the studies, the differences in creatine doses, and differences in test used to measure performance. Creatine does not seem to improve serving ability in tennis players.
Some people have a disorder that prevents their body from making creatine. This can lead to low levels of creatine in the brain. Low levels of creatine in the brain can lead to decreased mental function, seizures, autism, and movement problems. Taking creating by mouth daily for up to 3 years can increase creatine levels in the brain in children and young adults with a disorder of creatine production called guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT) deficiency. This can help improve movement and reduce seizures. But it doesn't improve mental ability. Arginine-glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) deficiency is another disorder that prevents the body from making creatine. In children with this condition, taking creatine for up to 8 years seems to improve attention, language, and mental performance. But taking creatine does not seem to improve brain creatine levels, movement, or mental function in children who have a disorder in which creatine isn't transported properly.
There is a lot of mixed research on creatine's ability to improve muscle strength. However, analyses of this research show that creatine seems to modestly improve upper body strength and lower body strength in both younger and older adults.
Creatine is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth at doses up to 25 grams daily for up to 14 days. Lower doses up to 4-5 grams taken daily for up to 18 months are also LIKELY SAFE
Some early research also suggests that creatine is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in doses up to 10 grams daily for up to 5 years. Creatine can 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 concern that creatine might cause irregular heartbeat in some people. But more information is needed to know if creatine can cause this problem.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking creatine if you arepregnantorbreast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Children: Creatine is POSSIBLY SAFE in children when taken by mouth appropriately. Creatine 3-5 grams daily for 2-6 months has been taken safely in children 5-18 years of age. Creatine 2 grams daily for 6 months has been taken safely in children 2-5 years of age. Additionally, creatine 0.1-0.4 grams/kg daily for up to 6 months has been taken safely in both infants and children.
Bipolar disorder: There have been cases of manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder who took creatine daily for 4 weeks. Creatine might make mania worse in people with bipolar disorder.
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.
ModerateMedications that can harm the kidneys (Nephrotoxic Drugs)
While most evidence shows that creatine does not harm the kidneys, in rare cases creatine has been reported to cause damage to the kidneys. Some medications can also harm the kidneys. Taking creatine with other 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.