Some people argue that creatine supplementation results in adverse health effects particularly kidney damage. Media reports and several websites play an active role in spreading such erroneous information. While this may appear to be true to the eyes of the public, the truth is actually quite the opposite. This article will present the benefits of creatine supplementation and the effects of its chronic use to human health from a scientific standpoint.
Overview on Creatine
Creatine is a protein substance naturally found in the human body. Because creatine is mostly found in muscles, it is believed that creatine plays a dynamic role in generating muscular energy. Today, it is one of the most talked-about dietary supplements that helps to develop and increase muscle strength. Due to the supplements' hailed benefits, creatine appears to be one of the most used supplements among athletes which some scientist have raised concern about. They contend that chronic use of creatine supplements lead to reduced kidney function.
Use of Creatine Supplements
Creatine supplements are widely used among professional athletes and "gym junkies". Consumption of the supplement is not illegal nor restricted in any country. One case in point is the International Olympic Committee and National Collegiate Athletic Association which permit their students to take creatine supplements and further reveal that no plans have been set in prohibiting its use in colleges and universities.
Other than building muscle strength, creatine supplements are used in treating the following conditions:
Congestive heart failure
Muscular disorders such as muscle dystrophy
Creatine Supplementation Damages Kidney: Fact or Fallacy?
In spite of many claims stating that creatine monohydrate supplements decrease renal function, this has been proven otherwise. In a study conducted in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition this year showed that 3 months of supplementation with creatine monohydrate and a high protein diet had no significant impact on kidney function including Glomerular Filtration Rate or Cr-EDTA clearance. (1) in which subjects were individuals attending resistance training routines while taking high-protein diet.
In another study published in the American Journal of Kidney Disorders, scientist gave a subject with only one kidney a high dose (20g/d for 5 days and then 5g/d for the next 30 days) of creatine monohydrate each day and found that there was no negative changes to Glomerular Filtration Rate nor Cr-EDTA clearance, again showing creatine supplementation does not impair kidney function. (2)
To date, no long term clinical studies have shown adverse effects from the use of creatine mononhydrate in various populations including athletes, infants or adults. (3,4,5)
Long-term use of creatine monohydrate supplements is considered safe as medically backed by studies referenced in this article. This has led the International Society of Sports Nutrition to publish a position stance on the use of Creatine. It is the position of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that the use of creatine as a nutritional supplement within established guidelines is safe, effective, and ethical. (6)
1) Lugaresi R, Leme M, De Salles V, Murai I, Roschel H, et al. Doe long-term creatine supplementation impair kidney function in resistance-trained individuals consuming a high protein diet? JISSN. 2013;10(26).
2) Gualano B, et al. Effect of short-term high-dose creatine supplementation on measured GFR in a young man with a single kidney. Am J Kidney Dis. 2010.
3) Kreider RB, Melton C, Rasmussen CJ, Greenwood M, Lancaster S, Cantler EC, Milnor P, Almada AL: Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. Mol Cell Biochem 2003, 244:95-104.
4) Poortmans JR, Francaux M: Long-term oral creatine supplementation does not impair renal function in healthy athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1999, 31:1108-1110.
5) Robinson TM, Sewell DA, Casey A, Steenge G, Greenhaff PL: Dietary creatine supplementation does not affect some haematological indices, or indices of muscle damage and hepatic and renal function. Br J Sports Med 2000, 34:284-8.
6) Buford TW, Kreider RB, Stout JR, Greenwood M, Campbell B, Spano M, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Antonio J: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2007, 4:6.