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Creatine Side Effects: Pros and Cons

Updated on April 22, 2014

Creatine occurs naturally in the vertabrates and supplies energy to muscles and nerve cells. It was first discovered in 1832 as a component of skeletal muscle. Everyday our bodies synthesize creatine from three different amino acids - arginine, glycine, and methionine. Ninety-five percent of it is later stored in the skeletal muscles.

In 1992, creatine supplements were introduced as a performance enhancing supplement because of evidence showing that the skeletal muscles total creatine content increases with oral creatine supplementation. Although creatine has been known to enhance physical performance since the early 20th century it didn't gain public attention until after the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Several medal winners, including two gold medalists were creatine users.

In 1993 a company called Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS) introduced creatine to the sports nutrition market under the name Phosphagen. Research showed that consuming high glycemic carbohydrates with creatine increases creatine muscle stores and performance. Creatine is often taken by athletes who wish to gain muscle mass through body building. There are several different forms but the most common is creatine monohydrate which is a creatine complexed with a molecule of water. Creatine side effects are as follows: Continuous intake of excessively high dosages of creatine may lead to a number of side effects. When taken in the recommended doses, creatine is an effective performance enhancer and muscle builder.

Creatine Side Effects

A number of high quality studies have shown an increase in muscle mass with the use of creatine. Studies examining creatine's effect in aging suggest that creatine may increase bone mass when combined with resistance training.

There is scientific evidence that taking creatine supplements can marginally increase athletic performance in high-intensity anaerobic activities. It has been suggested that the increased performance is due to muscles not tiring as quickly. It has been studied in cyclists, females, high-intensity endurance athletes, rowers, runners, sprinters (general), swimmers, and the elderly.

Short term and long term use of creatine in healthy individuals is considered safe. There are possible side effects from using excessively high dosages of creatine. It has been hypothesized that consistently high dosages could lead to hypertension because of increased water retention. In all the studies that have been done nothing significant has been found beyond the occasional dehydration due to increased muscular water uptake from the rest of the body. Still it is unwise to take excessively high doses of almost anything because of potential serious side effects.

Patients with kidney disease should avoid use of this supplement. Similarly, caution is advised in those with underlying liver disease. Creatine can't be recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to a lack of scientific information.

Creatine is a naturally occuring substance in the human body. Taking creatine supplements have been found to have performance enhancing effect. Taken in proper dosages creatine side effects are non existent and can be a valuable addition to any althletic training program.

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    • profile image

      Luis 

      6 years ago

      Hello Mr. Steve, I was told before that using creatine was infact good for muscle gain but is it true that if you get a bad hangover you loose a lot of muscle mass due to dehydration ,how accurate is that?

    • profile image

      Ronney 

      6 years ago

      Hello Mr.steve

      i started taking optimum nutrition cgt-10 which includes (5gms creatine,3 gms glutamine and 2 gm taurine), and i have been taking 1/2 seriving (1 teaspoon) around 45 mins pre-workout and 1/2 serving( 1 teaspoon) post work out. but on the sixth day i notice around after 10 mins my eyes started to turn red and itchyness on my face and the portion at back the elbow. i quickly took cetzine A (anti-allergic) so it settled down in around half an hour to 45 mins .. i wanted to know is that can creatine cause allergy even after 6 days of intake or it may be some thing else like food colour etc. and if so should i stop taking it ? Am takin on serious mass as well from last 4 months

      p.s. 1)on the day i experinced this allergy my water intake level was also pretty low..

      2)just before 20 mins of workout i had a day old rice and butter chicken with lots of food colour in it - food colour might be another

      reason for the allergy ?? ..

    • profile image

      crazyme7 

      6 years ago

      awcheah; nothing will happen that you will notice, as increased flex muscle mass.

    • profile image

      awcheah 

      6 years ago

      i'm a fifteen year old football player, what would happen if i stop using creatin after about two months of using it?

    • profile image

      Creatine Studies 

      8 years ago

      I've been doing a lot of reading lately on Creatine and what you says seems really accurate.

      One site I read a lot at is http://www.creatine-studies.com

    • profile image

      Dave S. 

      8 years ago

      I play football and i recently bought some products with creatine in them and have used them for about a month and have noticed an amazing change in my play and workouts i can workout harder for longer and havea better recovery and have not had any problems with the products just follow the instructions and you'll notice the difference

    • profile image

      Jimmy Page 

      8 years ago

      Working out regularly and hard leaves me in a constant search for low fat sources of quality creatine and vitamin supplements. After having tried numerous powders and stacks, I finally decided to try the Dr Max Powers Anabolic Stack after doing research about the stack and its ingreidents.

      It seems to give me what I was looking for. I take it an hour before workouts and seem to recover much faster with no muscle soreness and more strength and energy the next day. Plus its made me huge. The research I did showed that the creatine included in the Dr Max Powers stack is the most efficient for body building. I recommend it.

    • profile image

      Creatine Side Effects 

      8 years ago

      I didn't realise that creatine had only been used since 1992 - no wonder there is no evidence of long term side effects it doesn't sound like its been around long enough. - At least its something natural in the body so hopefully I will be ok!

    • stevemark122000 profile imageAUTHOR

      stevemark122000 

      10 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks for you comment sityorso. Red meat contains creatine but is not the best choice for athletes. It is high in fat and cholestorol. Eating large quantities of red meat is not the most healthy or effective choice for increased muscle mass and athletic performance. The goal of most athletes is to avoid fat gain.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Very interesting I always knew about creatine (it is present in red meat) but did not know that it worked for the older person too (like me).

      Thanks for the info

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