Creatine is an organic acid that helps rejuvenate muscle energy and strength. This nitrogenous acid is a characteristic of vertebrates. The human body is supplied with creatine via food components, especially meat. It is a component of the skeletal muscle, and named after the Greek term for flesh, ‘kreas’.
Creatine was first identified by Michel Eugène Chevreul, in 1832. This skeletal muscle component is responsible for energizing muscles in the human body. Biosynthesis of creatine reveals that the stored creatine in the human body comes from meal components, mainly fresh meat. Vegetables do not contain creatine, and hence, vegetarians need its supplementation to compensate for the loss. It is a naturally occurring protein building block found in the human body. Artificial supplements not only improve muscle strength and develop lean muscle mass, but also increase bone mineral density.
Creatine is recognized across the globe as a performance enhancer, especially for athletes. The production of energy is generated by the conversion of ATP or adenosine triphosphate molecules into ADP or adenosine diphosphate molecules (by the loss of one phosphate molecule), and then again into ATP. Creatine is stored in the human body in the form of creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine. This energy booster donates the lost ADP phosphate molecule to generate a renewed ATP molecule every time body movements use up ATP reserves.
The creatine enzyme pathway is primarily triggered by the mitochondrial GAMT enzyme. This enzyme is responsible for catalyzing creatine biosynthesis in the kidneys and pancreas. Guanidinoacetate N-methyltransferase is the second enzyme that catalyzes creatine biosynthesis in the liver and pancreas. Neurological defects that affect muscle tone and function result from genetic deficiencies in the creatine biosynthesis pathways.
Creatine is biosynthesized from arginine, methionine, and glycine, three essential amino acids. While more than ninety percent it stored in the skeletal muscles comes from the consumption of meat and creatine supplements, the rest is commonly compensated for via alimentary resources.
Creatine has been effectively used in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders. It helps increase muscle strength in patients ailing from neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, congestive heart failure, and disuse atrophy. It is also effective in addressing the loss of muscle value that results from mitochondrial diseases and muscular dystrophy.
Research reveals that creatine supplements help to correct:
- Muscle weakness and wasting characterized in neuromuscular disorders like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease and McArdle’s disease
- Decreased muscle mass and increased fatigue triggered by Parkinson’s disease
- High concentrations of blood lipids and homocysteine observed in various heart diseases
- Brain trauma and decreased brain function after a near fatal accident
- Depressive mood in sleep-deprived individuals
Wild game is supposed to be the richest source of creatine. Other meal components that provide it include lean red meat and fish, especially salmon, herring, and tuna. Artificial supplements are commonly sold in the form of tablets, capsules, syrups, energy bars, and mixes.
Creatine is not yet associated with serious adverse health effects, beyond occasional dehydration. This effect is mainly the body’s reaction to increased muscle hydration that is triggered by supplementation. There have also been occasional instances of lower leg pain, since it causes increased anterior pressure in the region. It is essential to inform the doctor about these symptoms, so that the dosage can be regulated.