Diet and Nutrition

Are Creatine Supplements Necessary?

Are Creatine Supplements Necessary?

Key Takeaways

  • Creatine is a common chemical athletes turn to to enhance their performance.
  • Creatine supplements have several important and negative side effects.
  • Creatine supplements can positively effect those with different medical conditions, in small doses.

Creatine, the popular chemical among athletes for enhanced performance, can be obtained from any normal diet. This chemical is also manufactured naturally in the body, and it can help create energy from the food an individual consumes. Although it is a popular choice among athletes, there is no conclusive evidence regarding its role in improving an individual's performance.

The benefits offered by creatine differentiates depending on an individual's age, health, diet, and level physical activity. Some studies show that creatine can provide sudden bursts of energy, which is particularly useful for people engaged in activities, like swimming and weightlifting. Some people report to have improved muscle mass after consuming creatine. Creatine is also found to be useful in the treatment for many health conditions, like congestive heart failure, depression, muscular dystrophy, bipolar disorder, and Parkinson’s disease. The use of this chemical in treatments for Huntington’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Lou Gehrig’s disease are currently undergoing a scientific study. The real effects and uses of creatine are still not clear for many of these conditions.

Creatine is needed to make energy that is used to adequately utilize muscles. People who normally have low levels of creatine in their blood, like vegetarians, seem to show marked improvements by since taking creatine supplements. The benefits are not entirely obvious and in cases that include individuals who already have higher levels of this chemical in their blood.

Creatine supplements can also benefits that:

  • Improve the performance for brief, high intensity activities.
  • Enhance an individual's endurance if they have heart problems.
  • Increase the strength in people with muscular dystrophy.
  • Controlling symptoms in Parkinson’s disease.

Whether creatine is effective in treating high cholesterol, depression, bipolar disorder, and Huntington’s disease is not yet clear. Typically, an individual consumes around one to two grams of creatine from his or her diet. Athletes may consume up to 30 gm of creatine to improve their performance. Meat, poultry, and fish are rich sources of this chemical and help maintain creatine levels in blood.  

Several side effects are associated with taking creatine supplements and include the following:

  • Water retention
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscular pain
  • Hypertension
  • Diarrhea
  • Kidney failure
  • Weight gain
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Skin pigmentation

Caffeine is known to decrease the effect of creatine in the body. Interaction between creatine and other stimulants may cause cardiovascular problems. The effects of creatine on the body may increase if an individual consumes a higher quantity of carbohydrates.