Creatine is an amino acid derivative occurring naturally in the body. It is also obtained from fish and meat, and is a wonderful muscle and strength builder. Creatine supplements have been widely used by sports persons to increase the body’s stamina and endurance.
Creatine, a naturally occurring substance in vertebrates, is a nitrogenous acid that assists in supplying energy to the muscles. In case of human beings, half of the creatine is generated in the body (by the liver) and the rest is obtained from ingested food (especially fresh meat). Today, they are also consumed in the form of supplements.
Creatine is one of the most popular supplement among athletes, as helps in strength and muscle building, thereby improving performance as required in high intensity sports. It also gives the person an edge in anaerobic athletic competitions. Since creatine is natural, there is no prohibition on its use for sports persons. However, the supplement that makes bigger and stronger muscles has generated concerns among its users. Are these supplements safe?
Do Creatine Supplements Cause Cramps?
There were talks going on about these supplements causing cramps and spasms. The journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, published a report regarding 26 athletes who were regularly taking these supplements for 4 years. The result of the study was that these athletes showed no difference when compared with other athletes who hadn’t taken the supplements in the incidence of cramps and spasms.
Further, in a 33 year study conducted on American footballers, it was observed that there was no connection between creatine supplements and incidence of injury and cramps.
Do these Supplements have Side Effects?
The September 2004 edition of the International Journal of Sports Medicine said that the side effects of creatine are rare. American football team NCAA Division II was considered for a creatine test and 23 of the team members were provided with creatine supplements (14 gm) for 3 years. Researchers found no harmful effects in their kidney and liver functions. However, there hasn’t been any study conducted on the harmful effects of high doses of these supplements.
The intake of creatine supplements by healthy people is considered to be safe, although there are reports of isolated cases, wherein certain individuals have contracted kidney problems after consuming these supplements. Therefore, people suffering from liver, kidney, or any similar ailments should opt for professional advice from the doctor before taking it. Better safe than sorry!
Possible Side Effects
Although creatine is safe there are some general side effects. These will vary from person to person. They are:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight gain
- Gas and bloating
- Kidney stones (rarely)
Sometimes, the person may also suffer from dehydration. This is because creatine tends to draw water from other areas of the body into the muscle tissue. The above mentioned side effects are not harmful, and were some of the experiences encountered by some people in the initial dosage stage or in times of heavy dosage. It cannot be generalized.
There hasn’t been any study done so far to verify if these supplements are harmful in the long run. However, just because we haven’t come across any, doesn’t imply that we lose our guard. It’s important not to take more than the recommended dosage. Stick to this rule and you can continue building up your muscles in peace.
Disclaimer: This NutriNeat article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.