Creatine is a nitrogeous organic acid present in all vertebrates, including humans and is more commonly used by bodybuilders due to the energizing effects it provides to the working muscles. It has gained its popularity since it provides better neuronal health and improved mental energy. Moreover, taking creatine has been shown to boost cognitive function among those who eat primarily a vegetarian diet. Double blind, placebo-controlled studies have verified this finding, but it is unknown to what degree meat eaters would experience benefit because meat provides omnivores with a significant supply of dietary creatine.
Creatine is categorized under Creatine.
It is also known as a-methylguanidinoacetic acid, creatine monohydrate, creatine 2-oxopropanoate.
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Benefits and Effectiveness
- Aerobic Exercise - Neutral 
- Anaerobic Exercise - Increased 
- Attention - Neutral 
- Blood Glucose - Decrease 
- Blood Pressure - Neutral 
- Bone Mineral Density (aka BMD) - Increased 
- Cortisol - Neutral 
- Depression - Decrease 
- Exercise Capacity (with Heart Conditions) - Neutral 
- Fat Mass - Neutral 
- Fatigue - Decrease 
- Fatigue Resistance - Increased 
- Free Testosterone - Increased 
- Growth Hormone - Increased 
- Heart Rate - Neutral 
- Homocysteine - Decrease 
- Hydration - Increased 
- IGF-1 (aka Insulin-like growth factor-1) - Neutral 
- Insulin Sensitivity - Neutral 
- Kidney Function (aka Renal function) - Neutral 
- Lactate Production - Neutral 
- Lean Mass - Increased 
- Lipid Peroxidation - Decrease 
- Liver Enzymes - Neutral 
- Memory - Neutral 
- Muscle Damage - Decrease 
- Muscular Endurance - Increased 
- Power Output - Increased 
- Euphoric - Increased 
- Total Cholesterol - Neutral 
- VO2 Max - Increased 
- Treatment of Myotonic Dystrophy - Increased 
- Cognition (Omnivores) - Neutral 
- Exercise Capacity in COPD - Neutral 
- Lung Function - Neutral 
- Treatment of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - Neutral 
- Treatment of COPD - Neutral 
What is Creatine?
What comes into our minds when we hear of the word Creatine is its role in the athletic and/or body building world. Little did we know that these energy boosting pre-workout agents also have a very efficient action inside our brain.
A naturally occurring amino acid, Creatine provides our bodies the energy that it needs, especially to those hard working muscles. Although it is naturally produced in the liver, kidneys and pancreas, significant concentration of which can also be found in meat and fishes.
But, how does Creatine act inside our bodies? Basically, Creatine is converted into creatine phosphate and phosphocreatine which are then stored in the muscles for energy consumption. Now during high intensity exercises of short duration which includes weight lifting, the stored phosphocreatine is then converted as ATP. And ATP or Adenosine Triphosphate refers to a nucleotide triphosphate that is used as the major source of energy within the human body (7).
What are the benefits of Creatine?
Why is Creatine considered such a powerful supplement in the athletic and body building world? How does it act inside our body to produce such significant physical results?
Studies have shown that Creatine supplements can significantly improve one’s strength and lean muscle mass during high-intensity, short-duration exercises such as weight lifting and sprinting. In contrast to that, Creatine does not seem to have any effect on performance on exercises that require endurance such as that of running, swimming, and many others.
Although the use of Creatine is not banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association or NCAA, or by the International Olympic Committee, its use remains controversial.
Creatine as a Nootropic
Once absorbed in the bloodstream, Creatine has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier which then, serves to have its cognitive benefits. Once inside the brain, Creatine then binds to phosphate which results in an increase in energy consumption. Because of this, cognitive functioning is supported and helps increase its efficiency. Creatine works inside the brain by providing the energy needed, just like how glucose and oxygen contributes inside the brain.
As a nootropic, researchers have found that individuals who took Creatine supplements had a significant improvement in memory, especially that of the short term memory, had reduced brain fatigue, and had an overall boost in mood.
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What is the role of Creatine in the medical field?
Aside from being one of the most popular and efficient supplements in the athletic and body building world, Creatine also poses to have other considerable uses. Among these are for the prevention and treatment of certain conditions and diseases.
Your Creatine supplements might not only benefit your working muscles but also, it may have a significant benefit on your heart and overall cardiovascular function. This is because the amino acid, according to preliminary studies, can help lower triglyceride levels in people who have high concentrations of triglycerides inside their bodies. (2)
In addition to that, Creatine has also been found to help lower the levels of homocysteine inside the body. Homocysteine refers to a non-protein amino acid that is usually acquired from eating meat. High levels of homocysteine, also called as hyperhomocysteinemia is strongly correlated to the early development of heart and blood vessel diseases including blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. Moreover, the condition may also be associated with lower levels of folate, Vitamins B6 and B12, and renal diseases (3) (4). With the supplementation of Creatine, it may significantly improve your cardiovascular function thereby lowering your risk of having blood vessel and heart conditions.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD
Basically, COPD is the umbrella term that refers to progressive lung diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is progressive since the condition gets worse over time and includes signs and symptoms such as productive cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, and among others (5).
Now in a study conducted among COPD patients, results showed that the individuals who received Creatine supplementation had an increase in muscle mass, muscle strength and endurance. However, more extensive research is still needed regarding the effects of Creatine towards exercise capacity. (2)
Muscular Dystrophy generally refers to a group of hereditary conditions that causes progressive weakness and loss of one’s muscle mass (6). It has been found that people with this condition may have less Creatine levels in their muscles. Now with supplementation of Creatine, studies have shown that it had led to improvement in one’s muscle strength.
Preliminary researches have found that Creatine has anticancer properties. This then, may be of great benefit to in the field of medicine however, this claim still requires further researches and clinical trials. (2)
What should I consider before taking Creatine?
1. Proper Creatine dosage and administration
Basically, how much of the Creatine you need to take depends on the purpose of using it. However, it is taken most commonly between the doses of 200 mg to 25 grams daily. When taken for its nootropic use, the typical dose would be between 3 grams to 5 grams per day and can be taken in a single or multiple administrations.
Moreover, researchers suggest that in order to increase the absorption of Creatine inside the body, it would be best to take it with carbohydrates such as fruits, fruit juices, and starches. (2)
When starting with any new drug or supplement, it would be best to start off with the lowest possible dose to see how you respond and then gradually increasing it over time. You might also want to consider consulting your doctor or healthcare provider first since a person’s condition and health status may play a role.
2. Creatine Safety and Side Effects
The consumption of Creatine is generally considered safe to use however, should not be taken among individuals under the age of 18. Adolescents who take Creatine supplements tend to be under no supervision of a healthcare professional and may lead to overconsumption and may lead to a number of side effects. This includes stomach upset, diarrhea, weight gain, elevated blood pressure, muscle cramps, muscle strains, liver dysfunction, and kidney damage. (2)
3. Can I take Creatine with other supplements and nootropics?
Yes, of course. Taking different nootropics to achieve a common goal or reduce potential side effects is called stacking. Stacking has been a very popular practice nowadays since it does not only potentiate the cognitive and health benefits that you wanted to achieve but also, stacking helps prevent or minimize the potential side effects of a certain supplement. Working alone, Creatine seems to have numerous cognitive and health benefits already. But when stacked with other supplements, the effects of which are synergistic with the other drugs. Along the most popular stacks today would be taking Creatine as a pre-workout supplement while having Whey Protein as a post-workout supplement. In this way, Creatine gives you that extra boost and fuel to gear you up in your physical routine while Whey Protein provides quality support and nutrients needed for the muscles’ recovery and improvement.
4. Precautions and Contraindications to Creatine use
It is important to know that not all people are suitable to take Creatine due to their health conditions or other medications they are taking in. This includes people taking NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs since taking this with Creatine may increase the risk of having liver damage. This also holds true for people taking Cimetidine (Tagamet), Probenicid, and other drugs that affect the kidneys since they may also raise the risk of damaging the kidneys. In addition to that, people who are taking caffeine and diuretics should not consume Creatine since they may increase the risk of having dehydration. (2)
Where can I buy Creatine?
You may purchase Creatine online or on various health supplement stores around the globe. Due to its popularity, it would be best to do your research first regarding the Creatine that would best suit you and the reputation of the supplement company. Creatine is readily available in different forms with powder being the most common one. Other forms include Creatine capsules, tablets, liquids, energy bars, drink mixes, and many others. Buy Creatine now and experience a significant step up in your physical performance as well as an improvement in your general health.
Reviewer: Kathleen R. RN, PT
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Wiki Last Updated: 2016-02-12
It is considered to be relatively safe to use although not yet confirmed, some potential side effects may include kidney damage, muscle cramps, dehydration, heart problems, and gastrointestinal problems.
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