Creatine is one of the most widely used bodybuilding supplements. Though there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove the effect of this supplement on the kidneys, it is believed that the increase in the levels of creatinine could overburden kidneys, thereby giving rise to untoward effects.
Creatine is a naturally-occurring organic acid that is synthesized in the liver from essential amino acids called arginine, methionine, and glycine. This amino acid derivative is stored in the skeletal muscles Though it is synthesized by the liver, it can also be obtained from certain dietary sources. This compound can boost one’s muscle strength and provide the much-needed stamina for endurance training or intense workouts.
How Does it Work
For this amino acid derivative to be able to replenish the body with energy, certain chemical reactions must take place. This starts with the conversion of creatine into phosphocreatine, which helps in supplying the body with phosphate, and helps in the conversion of adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
ATP molecules provide the body with the energy needed for muscle contractions. A phosphate molecule is released in the process, and this is followed by the conversion of ATP into ADP. These reactions help provide the athletes or fitness enthusiasts, with the energy required for increased muscle activity.
Besides replenishing the body with instant energy, this organic acid is also believed to facilitate synthesis of proteins. This is the reason why people interested in bodybuilding or sports have begun to use its supplements. These pills are believed to be very effective in building up muscle mass and facilitating speedy recovery from injuries. However, the users need to pay attention to the side effects. Though there isn’t enough evidence to corroborate the long-term side effects of these supplements on the kidneys or other organs, it is believed that an overdose can have an adverse impact on one’s health.
Impact on the Kidney Function
It is believed that the stress on the kidneys is due to the high levels of creatinine. Creatinine is a by-product of creatine, which is filtered out by the kidneys and flushed out from the body by way of urine. High levels of creatinine in blood might be a warning sign for kidney problems. Another blood test that can help in determining whether the kidney function is impaired or not, is the BUN/Creatinine ratio.
BUN stands for blood urea nitrogen, and is a waste product of protein metabolism. This ratio generally lies between 10:1 and 20:1. If the blood tests reveal an increased ratio, and levels of blood urea nitrogen and creatinine are higher, then there is a greater likelihood of kidney function being adversely affected. It is also believed that the long-term use of these pills might make one susceptible to kidney stones.
Creatinine levels in blood could get elevated, if the kidneys are unable to eliminate it. This is the reason why people diagnosed with kidney problems must not use these supplements. Though the supplements are available in the form of citrates, phosphates, and monohydrate salts, creatine monohydrate is believed to provide the best results in terms of bodybuilding.
However, there have been instances of people experiencing side effects due to the use of these supplements. The pills draw water from other areas of the body into one’s muscle cells, thereby leading to dehydration. There’s no denying the fact that there is a connection between the development of kidney stones and severe dehydration. Other side effects that have been reported by users include muscle cramps, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and loss of appetite.
It is also believed that the prolonged use of these supplements might affect the body’s ability to synthesize creatine on its own. Another aspect that should not be overlooked is the quality of supplements. Markets are flooded with various brands that offer such bodybuilding supplements, and one must therefore, buy the good quality pills that are safe for consumption.
Though these supplements might help enhance the muscular strength and build a muscular body, these must be taken as per the recommended dosage to prevent untoward effects. Prolonged use or an overdose can cause dehydration, which might lead to formation of kidney stones in some cases. An overdose could also lead to high levels of creatinine, which can harm those who have been diagnosed with liver or kidney diseases. Overzealous and indiscriminate use of these pills might have serious repercussions on one’s health, and must therefore be avoided.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.