What is it?
Creatine is a chemical found mainly in the body muscles. Muscles utilize creatine to create energy for them to work. It can be found in meat and fish. It is commonly used to increase muscle mass and improve exercise performance. However, skeletal muscle can only hold a certain amount of creatine, so any more than that will not increase muscle bulk any further.
Studies have shown that it helps in athletic performance, increase muscle strength in patients with muscle dystrophy and McArdle's disease, increase strength and endurance in people with heart failure, slows worsening of symptoms in Parkinson disease and also slows sight loss in patients with gyrate atrophy.
Insufficient evidence based studies is present to prove if creatine can help in Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, Huntington’s disease, Bipolar disease, depression and hyperlipidemia. More scientific research is required to prove all these claimed benefits.
Possible side effects
When taking the normal dose, it is generally safe. Some side effects include muscle cramps, stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. When taken in overdose, it can affect the function of heart, kidney and liver.
Drink lots of water when taking creatine to prevent dehydration. Do not take it with coffee as it may increase chance of stroke but this association needs further studies to prove.
There is insufficient evidence to prove if it is safe for lactating/pregnant women to consume it, hence it is best to avoid. Also if you have kidney disease, it is best to avoid taking it.
As high doses of creatine harms the kidney, it should not be taken with nephrotoxic (drugs that may harm kidneys) such as aminoglycosides antibiotics and Nsaids painkillers.
The dosage is dependent on individual’s medical indication for taking creatine. Please follow the instructions of your doctor for proper dosing if you have a medical condition that requires creatine. To improve physical performance, if you do not have any contraindications to take creatine, follow the dosing on product’s label and if in doubt check with your doctor first.