Various supplements are consumed for boosting body mass, to assist athletes in high-intensity workouts and to treat specific conditions. Creatine is one among the most sought-after supplements globally, for its proven results and for its relative safety. Moderate doses have proven to be safe and this continues to encourage users to consume the supplements in various forms and dosages. However, it is necessary to know that the possibility of side effects of creatine cannot be ruled out in all users. Here is an in-depth look at possible side effects of creatine and the best measures to prevent and manage the effects, whenever experienced.

Overview and side effects of creatine

Before we look at the side effects of creatine it is essential to learn more about the supplements, its use, mechanism of action and the average recommended intake. Available naturally in various food products, especially red meat and seafood, creatine is an amino acid. It is present in the muscles of the body and in the brain. While it is available in food products and supplements, creatine is also produced in the body in the liver, pancreas and the kidneys. The average human body creates around 1 gram of creatine per day from the organs. One of the reasons for the demand for creatine supplements is the high levels that can be sourced from synthetic products, when compared with food products.

Creatine supplements are typically used to treat certain conditions, including neuromuscular conditions, a few types of brain disorders and congestive heart failure. The primary demand for creatine supplements is for boosting athletic and workout performance by enhancing energy levels in the muscles. Most individuals who take creatine supplements use it for improving muscle mass. It is also administered as a topical presentation to combat the visible effects of aging on the skin. Before we look at the side effects of creatine, here is a look at its specific uses in either boosting or treating conditions.

One of the most important phases of high intensity training is the rest and recovery phase, the period known as the golden hour. I tis during this period that the muscles are to be supplied with the right kind of nutrition. Timely delivery of nutrition helps boost strength of the muscles that are targeted during workouts. It helps to increase the size and the performance of the muscles. Athletes who consume creatine supplements are known to perform better, experiencing a clear increase in the number of repetitions during workouts. This results in significant improvements in muscle mass, and helps the individual to gain more strength.

Another important use of creatine supplement is injury prevention. Most individuals working out or in professional sports experience injuries that are attributed to dehydration and cramps. Consequently, a large number of athletes and professional sportspersons experience injuries in the ligaments and muscles. Creatine supplements helps prevent injury by ensuring that the muscles receive the right amount of nutrition and energy. Finally, creatine supplements are also used to manage certain conditions, such as muscular dystrophy, and other creatine deficiency related conditions. As mentioned above, creatine is present in the muscles and in the brain. Therefore, elderly patients with lesser levels of creatine in the brains may sometimes exhibit impaired cognitive health. The right kind of creatine supplements helps individuals to improve cognitive health of the elderly.

Ideal dosage of creatine supplements

Side effects of medication and supplements are often attributed to incorrect dosage. It is therefore necessary learn more about the ideal dosages to prevent side effects of creatine. It is necessary to note here, that the ideal dosages are presented more as a reference value and the actual dosage will change as per individual requirements and various other parameters. It is important to seek some specialist advice in certain cases, to ensure that the supplements are taken in the right amount and at the right time. To boost exercise performance, adults are recommended an average of 20 grams daily of oral supplements for an initial period of 5 days followed by a maintenance dose of lesser than 3 grams daily.

To prevent side effects of creatine, patients diagnosed with chronic heart failure are recommended a dosage of 20 grams daily, for a period between 5 days to 10 days depending on various conditions. Children with muscular dystrophy are typically recommended dosage of 10 grams daily. For various other conditions, including Parkinson’s, McArdle disease, the dosage may differ from as low as 10 grams per day to as much as 150 mg for every kilogram of body weight per day. In many conditions, dosages are generally split into initial dosages that are heavier, followed by maintenance dosages that are lower than the initial dosages.

Precautions to be taken to prevent side effects of creatine

To prevent side effects of creatine it is necessary to take certain precautions. For instance, while creatine is regarded as relatively safe for consumption on a short-term basis as well as long term basis, it is generally safe to limit long term usage to around 5 years. Some of the reasons attributed to this upper limit of long-term use include the following. For instance, creatine is known to increase muscle mass. Effectively, this means that the individual will end up with an increase in weight. One of the most important considerations for restricting long term use is the possible impact of creatine on the kidneys. This is especially true in the case of individuals with a history of kidney ailments. While there is inadequate documentation on the possible effects of creatine on the kidneys, it is necessary to take certain precautions till there is complete clarity on the actual impact.

Side effects of creatine : interactions with other products/ingredients

Among the side effects of creatine is the possible interactions with other substances. For instance, creatine may interact with caffeine, and consequently, this may impact the desired effects of creatine. Additionally, there are observations that caffeine in excess of 300 milligrams taken along with creatine could have adverse effects on individuals with Parkinson’s. Additional studies are required for confirmation of the same. Similarly, individuals diagnosed with diabetes mellitus are advised to avoid taking creatine. Additionally, patients with nephrotic syndrome are also to avoid taking creatine as this could create complications. Certain medications for treating gout, for instance probenecid, may result in interactions that could impact the kidney adversely.

Possible side effects of creatine

The following compilation lists out the possible side effects of creatine. Pregnant women and lactating women are advised to exercise caution before taking creatine. The specific effects of creatine on pregnant women and lactating women have not been studied in detail, hence caution is necessary to prevent adverse effects. Commonly reported side effects include pain in the stomach and muscle cramps. Individuals on creatine ae likely to experience feelings of nausea in the initial stages of taking the supplements. There is the possibility of individuals ending up with diarrhea when on creatine supplements. As mentioned above, individuals diagnosed with diabetes are advised to stay off creatine to avoid complications. Additionally, individuals with renal ailments are also advised to firmly avoid creatine supplements and all protein supplements as this could result in adverse complications.

Individuals in sporting activities are advised to watch their weight, as creatine supplements will end up with an increase in weight. Consequently, this could have an impact on the performance of the athlete, especially in sporting activities where the athletes are expected to have greater control over posture and gravity. This is typically attributed to the increased intake of water alongside creatine.

Incorrect dosage is known to result in possible side effects of creatine. For instance, creatine may reduce blood sugar levels and could therefore cause complications in individuals with low blood glucose levels. Similarly, as mentioned earlier, individuals with diabetes typically take medication to control blood glucose levels, and when this is combined with creatine, there is possibility of blood sugar levels dipping. Creatine can also result in a possible increase in blood pressure levels, and this makes it necessary for hypertensive individuals to seek medical advice prior to taking the supplements. By extension, individuals consuming food products or over the counter medications to increase blood pressure levels are also expected to seek medical advice prior to taking creatine supplements. For instance, individuals on creatine supplements are likely to experience a spike in blood pressure levels. When this combines with the effects of medications or products intended to increase blood pressure, the increase may be more than desired levels.

Other side effects of creatine include individuals diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, and patients with liver ailments. Additionally, patients with issues related to electrolyte imbalance or any kind of electrolyte disorders are also expected to seek medical advice prior to taking creatine supplements. Other conditions that need caution from individuals include gastrointestinal disorders, and patients diagnosed with bipolar disorders. Creatine supplements are not to be taken along with diuretics, as the individual may end up dehydrated. Other side effects of creatine include a possible breakdown of muscle tissue. Known as rhabdomyolysis, this condition could manifest when the creatine results in an increase creatinine, which is effectively a breakdown product of muscle/protein metabolism.

Creatine supplements are relatively safe and have been used with great efficacy by individuals in professional sports. However, the possible side effects of creatine are typically experienced or reported by individuals when taken for longer durations. When creatine is recommended in the right dosages for treating certain conditions (creatine deficiency), it is unlikely to cause adverse side effects. However, when it is taken as a supplement and when this exceeds a particular dosage, there is the possibility of side effects.

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