Increases fat-free muscle mass when used in conjunction with a strength-training regimen. Improves performance and resistance in repetitive bouts of brief, highly intense physical activity by increasing the intramuscular energy levels.
Creatine is an amino acid (amino acids are the building blocks of proteins) which is made in the body by the liver and kidneys, and is derived from the diet through meat and animal products. The American Food and Drug Administration categorizes creatine as a food supplement (like a vitamin).
In the body, creatine is changed into a molecule called phosphocreatine, which serves as a storage reservoir for quick energy. Phosphocreatine is especially important in tissues such as the voluntary muscles and the nervous system, that periodically require large amounts of energy.
Studies have shown that creatine can increase the performance of athletes in activities that require quick bursts of energy, such as sprinting, and can help athletes to recover faster after expending bursts of energy.
Two scientific studies have indicated that creatine may be beneficial for neuromuscular disorders. First, a study by MDA-funded researcher M. Flint Beal of Cornell University Medical Center demonstrated that creatine was twice as effective as the prescription drug riluzole in extending the lives of mice with the degenerative neural disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Second, a study by Canadian researchers Mark Tarnopolsky and Joan Martin, of McMaster University Medical Center in Ontario, found that creatine can cause modest increases in strength in people with a variety of neuromuscular disorders. (Beal’s work was published in the March 1999 issue of Nature Neuroscience and the second paper was published in the March 1999 issue of Neurology.)
The amount of phosphocreatine in the muscles of people with some neuromuscular disorders, such as mitochondrial myopathies or inflammatory myopathies, is lower than normal. Researchers suggest that creatine supplementation in these people may improve muscle strength by bolstering the muscles’ energy stores.
Athletes generally take a “loading dose” of 20 g of creatine a day for five or six days, then continue with a “maintenance dose” of 2–5 g of creatine a day thereafter. The pilot trial reported in the March 1999 issue of Neurology showed benefits from a 10 g “loading dose” for five days, followed by a 5 g “maintenance dose” for five to six days.
Because there is little information about the safety of creatine for people with neuromuscular disorders, we suggest that you consult your health-care practitioner before taking this supplement.
Serving size: 1 full teaspoon (approximately 5 g) mixed in 150 ml of water or juice. Adults: At loading phase, take 15–20 g/day, not exceeding 5 g per dose. At maintenance phase, take 2–5 g/day. Take separately from products containing caffeine. Add powder to water or juice. Duration of use:Loading phase: 5–7 days. Maintenance phase: None.