Creatine (creatine monohydrate) is a supplement some athletes use who seek to enhance their performance. The body produces almost half the amount needed on a daily basis. The other half must come from food or supplements.
Creatine is an amino acid found in the muscles that can produce bursts of energy on demand. This is especially beneficial to people who want to improve stamina during high-intensity, short-term activities (eg, weight-lifting, not aerobics) and increase muscle strength.
Scientists are studying creatine for muscle-depleting illnesses and the wasting of muscles that accompanies aging.
Sources of Creatine
The best food sources are fish and red meat. Almost 1 gram of creatine is provided per half pound of meat (raw).
As a supplement, creatine monohydrate combined with glucose (a simple carbohydrate such as fruit) will provide maximum benefits. Creatine monohydrate is available in tablets, capsules, energy bars, and beverage mixes.
Since the body does not store much creatine, to achieve maximum benefits the muscles must be loaded. For example, a person weighing 180 pounds might take 5 grams (g) of creatine monohydrate four times per day for one week (adjust dose according to weight). Thereafter, a daily dose between 2 g to 5 g is adequate for maintenance.
Guidelines and Cautions
Creatine is generally safe. Side effects may include muscle cramping, weight gain, gastrointestinal disorders, liver damage, and kidney dysfunction. It should be used in combination with a balanced, nutritionally complete diet.
Caffeine (eg, coffee, tea, chocolate) will decrease or eliminate the positive effects of this supplement. Do not take creatine with fruit juices, because the combination results in the production of a chemical waste product called creatinine, which is hard for the kidneys to process.
To determine individual dosages as well as the best form of creatine monohydrate to take, consult with a medical professional. Do not take more than the recommended dose.
Disclaimer: Many people report feeling improvement in their condition and/or general well-being taking dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements. The Editorial Board of SpineUniverse.com, however, cannot endorse such products since most lack peer-reviewed scientific validation of their claims. In most cases an appropriate diet and a "multiple vitamin" will provide the necessary dietary supplements for most individuals. Prior to taking additional dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements it is recommended that patients consult with their personal physician to discuss their specific supplement requirements.