The Truth About Creatine Safety

Creatine is the most researched supplement ever. It has withstood the wrath of critics, research projects, peer reviewed journal articles, and the glaring eye of the consumers scrutiny, but above all this… it’s withstood the test of time! Creatines effects are pretty much irrefutable, it is the unique energy source to your muscles meaning it can’t be poached for energy by your other organs etc; this enables you to train harder, for longer!

Creatine is approved in almost every country on earth, it has to meet the safety standards unique to each country and be free from adverse side effects. The pharmaceutical (drug) industry is very tightly moderated, but it is acknowledged that drugs manufactured to treat a condition or disease often come with some side effects such as itching, high temperature or lack of libido to name a few. Nutritional supplements or ‘borderline substances’ (as they are technically termed) have to be side effect free. Granted some supplements cause fidgeting or irritability if people are sensitive to some of the key ingredients (stimulants such as caffeine etc), and some proteins may cause bloating or flatulence (usually the lower quality blends) for example.

In 2004 the EU Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed that creatine monohydrate is safe at doses of 3g/d, obviously other brands may suggest 5g/d, and sports nutrition bodies such as the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) suggest approx 0.2g/kg bodyweight for the ‘loading phase’, and 0.05-0.1g/kg for the ‘maintenance’ phase.

Creatine can become dangerous when dosages are abused, it’s not uncommon to find some irresponsible athletes doubling recommended dosages which could prove to be extremely damaging! Other consumer innocently consume creatine non-stop, without observing a cycle i.e. 4 weeks on, 4 weeks off! The risk with this is that the kidneys are exposed to a high volume of solute, resulting in an osmotic shift of fluid into the kidneys meaning you pee like a race horse and place adverse strain on the kidneys!

Some scientists have always argued that Creatine generates toxic quantities of methylamine and formaldehyde when it is broken down in the body. Poortmans, (2005) found that people consuming large amounts of creatine (20g/d) did indeed have high levels of these substances, but NOT beyond the normal upper limits for healthy people! If creatine dosages are kept within normal recommendations, then creatine in urine and methylamine levels are much lower and not seen to be a risk.

All research seems to show that liver and kidneys are unaffected if healthy people with no underlying medical conditions consume creatine. Current guidance suggests that if you already have kidney disease or have an increased risk of developing it i.e. if you’re diabetic, hypertensive (high blood pressure) or have a reduced glomerular filtration rate (kidney function), then you should consult your Doctor before commencing a course of creatine.

The short and fast of it is this…The only real side effect of Creatine, is lean muscle mass!

References

Creatine in Health, Medicine and Sport, (2010). Report on the conference. Creatine. A simple molecule with the potential to improve health.

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!

Comments

  • David

    I take 1 tablet of creatine 3/4 times a week before working (pre workout boost). I have been doing this for appro 3 years. Would i be at risk of damaging my organs?

    • Tom

      Cycle your creatine David. What i mean by this is take creatine for 3-4 weeks and then rest for 3-4 weeks whilst drinking lots of fluid.
      Check this article and infographic on how best to take creatine safely and most effectively >>> http://www.discount-supplements.co.uk/blog/creatine-loading-maintaining-flushing-do-it-right/

      If you've been taking creatine for 3 years straight, stop now and have a minimum of 4 weeks off whilst drinking 30-35ml of water/fluid per kg bodyweight per day, every day.

      Kind regards,

      Tom

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