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Creatine

General Information

Creatine is made by the human body in the kidneys and liver. It provides energy for the muscles. The majority of creatine made in the body is found in the muscles, with small amounts found in the liver, kidneys, and brain. Creatine is also found in fish and meat.

Common Name(s)

creatine, creatine monohydrate

Scientific Name(s)

N-(aminoiminomethyl)-N methylglycine monohydrate

Scientific Name(s)

Creatine is a dietary supplement that is available to be taken by mouth in the form of powder, tablets, lozenges, chewable gummies, strips, and capsules.

Creatine is generally taken in 2 phases: a loading phase and a maintenance phase. In the loading phase it can be taken as 15 g to 20 g per day (not exceeding 5 g per dose) for 5 to 7 days, or as 3 g to 5 g per day for a minimum of 4 weeks. In the maintenance phase it should be taken as 2 g to 5 g per day.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Creatine supplements are used to build lean muscle mass and improve athletic strength and performance when used in conjunction with a resistance training regimen. Creatine is more specifically used for improving performance in brief, high-intensity physical activity.

Although several studies have shown that creatine is effective for improving performance during brief, high-intensity physical activities, other studies showed no benefit.

People have also used creatine for a variety of other conditions, including chronic heart failure and neuromuscular disorders (e.g., muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis). People have also used creatine to treat high cholesterol and creatine deficiency (e.g., in certain disorders where the body cannot create creatine on its own).

Creatine may be useful in helping people with heart failure to tolerate exercise; however, more well-designed studies are needed to confirm these findings.

The role of creatine in treating neuromuscular disorders is not clear, and more well-designed trials are needed. Creatine supplements have not been found to be useful for treating high cholesterol.

There is some evidence that creatine may be helpful for those who with creatine deficiency.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

The main side effects reported by people taking creatine supplements are stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Some people may experience changes in behaviour, including nervousness or feeling depressed. Heat intolerance and electrolyte imbalances may also occur.

Creatine can also cause weight gain and swelling related to extra water being stored in the body. Some people have reported an inability to tolerate heat after starting creatine supplements. Muscle cramping can also occur.

Allergic reactions can occur. If you experience symptoms such as itching, hives, swelling of face or tongue, chest tightness, or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention. If you have had an allergic reaction to creatine, do not take this supplement.

If you have kidney or liver problems, avoid creatine.

Creatine should not be taken by children or by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Creatine can cause water loss from the body and may cause dehydration. If you are already dehydrated, or if you are using medications that may cause water loss (such as diureticdiuretican agent that increases urine flows), consult your health care provider before taking creatine.

People taking diuretics, including but not limited to furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide, should avoid the use of creatine because of the risk of dehydration.

Creatine can interact with medications, food, and herbs. Check with your pharmacist for potential interactions with other herbs or medications you may be taking.

The following may interact with creatine:

  • antidiabetes medications, including insulin
  • caffeine
  • carbohydrates
  • cimetidine
  • cyclosporine
  • furosemide
  • gentamicin
  • hydrochlorothiazide
  • lovastatin
  • ma huang (ephedra)
  • nifedipine
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS; e.g., ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen)
  • probenecid
  • tobramycin
  • trimethoprim

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

Source(s)

  1. Creatine Monohydrate Monograph. Health Canada, http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=creatine.mono. Accessed 16 March 2014.
  2. Coenzyme Q10 monograph. Natural Standard database. Accessed 16 March 2014.
  3. Creatine Monograph (consumer version). Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Accessed online 16 March 2014.

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