Creatine is a supplement that I have often found athletes taking without knowing much about it. A helpful employee at the health food store or supplement shop recommends it and we take their word as truth. In fact, their word may be misleading and not with the athletes best interest in mind (Hint: Most of them make commission on their sales!) . There are several things that many athletes may not know about creatine. Here's what you need to know:
1. Creatine is created naturally in the body. The liver combines amino acids arginine, histidine, and methionine to form it.
2. It is not a steroid.
3. It will not increase the risk of dehydration or muscle cramps.
4. Creatine will not impair kidney function or cause renal stress.
5. Creatine is not a magic energy supplement. It can take about a week of consistent dosing to see effects because our muscles must be saturated with it.
Creatine may be the most widely used supplement on the market, but it may not be the most necessary supplement. It is a dietary supplement that can increase muscle performance in short-duration, high-intensity resistance exercises if taken properly. The effective dosing for creatine supplementation is loading with 0.3 g/kg/d for 5 to 7 days, followed by maintenance dosing at 0.03 g/kg/d for 4 to 6 wk. Creatine monohydrate relies on the phosphocreatine shuttle for adenosine triphosphate. Orange you glad you know this now?
This issue I have is with the media exaggerating study finding or ignoring them all together. The media has sited several outdated studies applying results recently, which is not appropriate. Only licensed health care professionals should be promoting information.
While it has minimal side effects and fairly well-recorded results, I still air on the side of caution with supplements like creatine. The dietary supplement industry is unregulated, and too often do consumers get sick or find out they paid an astronomical amount of money for nothing. Only then does the FDA step in. This leaves me with very little trust in this system. There are only a few supplement companies that have earned my trust.
Hall M, Trojian TH. Creatine supplementation. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2013 Jul-Aug;12(4):240-4.