The Case for Creatine
You think you know, but you really don’t.
Grandpa and Grandma should consider taking it.
I remember when I was a teenager in the 90s and had taken an interest in weightlifting and sports when my Dad brought home a canister of creatine and suggested that I start taking some to help with gaining strength and muscle. Creatine at this point was a new supplement, so it was a hot topic of debate on whether or not to take it. There were news headlines attributing creatine to injuries, dehydration, and muscle cramping on one hand, and on the other hand a studies showing significant positive strength, power, and muscle mass benefits to taking it. This is typically how most people still view creatine to this day.
“I remember back in my day Creatine caused all sorts of injuries,” says Johnny football of the 90s. This just isn’t true at all. Like many things in science, correlation doesn’t equal causation. Just because your friend broke his leg in football and he was taking creatine doesn’t mean creatine broke his leg. Maybe, just maybe, it was the 250lb lineman who fell on his leg during a pile-up that broke his leg? Just a thought.
Fast forward nearly 30 years, creatine has become one of the most researched supplements on the planet, and it has a safety profile that is exemplary. Most people who use it are men who strength train simply because that’s typically who it’s marketed towards; however, this article is to educate on the many other potential benefits of creatine supplementation and how it may apply to you.
What is creatine in the first place?
Creatine is an amino acid derivative constructed from arginine, glycine and methionine. It is produced naturally by the body in the kidneys, liver, and pancreas at a rate of about 1-2 grams/day. Creatine can also be obtained from food (particularly red meat) and supplementation.
The uptake of creatine into muscle cells is an active process. 90-95% of creatine in the body is found in muscle.
What else can creatine be good for?
I remember reading research several years back about how creatine is showing promise as a therapeutic ingredient for several diseases. Cancer, Alzheimers, sarcopenia, and osteoporosis were some of the science back then and some of potential innovative applications of creatine supplementation. Additionally there was some science pointing to cognitive and hydration benefits of creatine as well. I remember thinking to myself, “if I can pick some additional benefits beyond athletic performance, recovery, and maintaining lean muscle mass, I’m just going to continue to take it for the rest of my life, especially with the potential multitude of benefits related to aging well. Even more recently, creatine is showing promise as a immune health enhancer as well and may even be helpful for those suffering from respiratory viruses. Here’s a link to a cool research article about creatine improving immunotherapies.
So from a 30,000 foot view, creatine appears to safely and effectively help promote these qualities:
- Lean muscle mass gain
- Lean muscle mass retention
- Enhances bone density
- Increases in strength and power for all ages
- Reducing symptoms of Alzheimer’s
- Reducing symptoms of Parkinson’s
- Anti-Carcinogenic (cancer)
Look, very few foods, ingredients, supplements, etc…..have as much of a multi-factorial benefit quite like Creatine. At 5g/day, people from many walks of life can experience benefits from creatine supplementation; however, never outsource your other healthy lifestyle habits that you should be focusing on to just taking a supplement. That’s silly and unwise. Eat a balanced diet, drink at least 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces of water daily, strength train, be active in life, get good sleep, and supplement intelligently. That’s how you do it right.