Is Creatine Safe?
By Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” – Psalm 20:7 (NIV)

In last month’s article we opened up a discussion about the safety of over-the-counter (OTC) supplements. This month we will focus on one of the most popular and high-profile supplements: creatine.

The use of creatine by athletes at the professional and amateur levels has skyrocketed in the last 10 years. Sales of creatine products have grown from $30 million in 1995 to nearly $500 million in 2005. And since creatine is legal and classified as a dietary supplement, athletes openly discuss their use of this substance with their teammates.

Recent studies have found that 40-50% of high school senior athletes say they use creatine to improve their performance.

This is true even though the American College of Sports Medicine and virtually every other credible physician does not recommend its use to anyone at or below the age of 18.

What is creatine, and how does it work?

Creatine is a natural nutrient called an amino acid. The body makes creatine in the liver, pancreas and kidneys. We also get 1–2 grams of creatine each day from protein sources such as meat, poultry and fish.

Roughly 95-98% of the creatine is stored in our muscles and is primarily responsible for restoring ATP energy, which is necessary for short, highintensity bursts of power. Creatine supplementation makes it possible to put greater demands on the muscles in training, increase muscle mass and improve bursts of power in competition.

Performance benefits are limited to sports that need energy for short, intense movements such as football, baseball, sprinting and wrestling. The American College of Sports Medicine notes that “creatine supplementation has not been shown to improve longer duration aerobic-type [activity].”

What are the risks?

1. Creatine is a dietary supplement and is not regulated by the FDA. Manufacturers are not required to prove its purity, safety or effectiveness.

2. Excess creatine places stress on the kidneys and liver.

3. No long-term studies exist to demonstrate the safety of this supplement or detrimental health consequences.

4. Athletes typically take far more than the recommended dosage, increasing the potential for harmful side effects.

5. Athletes come to rely on substances to enhance their performances and may turn to more harmful products to take their game to the next level.

6. Creatine supplementation results in temporary decreases in muscle size and power within days or weeks after stopping use. As a result, athletes are likely to continue use for long periods of time.

Typical side effects:

• Muscle cramps

• Dehydration

• Nausea and stomach cramps

• Diarrhea or constipation

• Elevated blood pressure

The fact is that many professional and amateur athletes regularly use creatine and get results from it. However, just because others are taking a supplement that is legal doesn’t make it the right thing to do. God is still looking for men and women who are willing to put their trust in Him and Him alone. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Ask yourself this: is creatine your chariot?