Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

Creatine: More than a Sports Nutrition Supplement


Although creatine offers an array of benefits, most people think of it simply as a supplement that bodybuilders and other athletes use to gain strength and muscle mass. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A substantial body of research has found that creatine may have a wide variety of uses. In fact, creatine is being studied as a supplement that may help with diseases affecting the neuromuscular system, such as muscular dystrophy (MD).

Recent studies suggest creatine may have therapeutic applications in aging populations for wasting syndromes, muscle atrophy, fatigue, gyrate atrophy, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and other brain pathologies. Several studies have shown creatine can reduce cholesterol by up to 15% and it has been used to correct certain inborn errors of metabolism, such as in people born without the enzyme(s) responsible for making creatine.

Some studies have found that creatine may increase growth hormone production.

What is creatine?

Creatine is formed in the human body from the amino acids methionine, glycine and arginine. The average person's body contains approximately 120 grams of creatine stored as creatine phosphate. Certain foods such as beef, herring and salmon, are fairly high in creatine.

However, a person would have to eat pounds of these foods daily to equal what can be obtained in one teaspoon of powdered creatine.

Creatine is directly related to adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is formed in the powerhouses of the cell, the mitochondria. ATP is often referred to as the "universal energy molecule" used by every cell in our bodies. An increase in oxidative stress coupled with a cell's inability to produce essential energy molecules such as ATP, is a hallmark of the aging cell and is found in many disease states.

Key factors in maintaining health are the ability to: (a) prevent mitochondrial damage to DNA caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and (b) prevent the decline in ATP synthesis, which reduces whole body ATP levels. It would appear that maintaining antioxidant status (in particular intra-cellular glutathione) and ATP levels are essential in fighting the aging process.

It is interesting to note that many of the most promising anti-aging nutrients such as CoQ10, NAD, acetyl-l-carnitine and lipoic acid are all taken to maintain the ability of the mitochondria to produce high energy compounds such as ATP and reduce oxidative stress.

The ability of a cell to do work is directly related to its ATP status and the health of the mitochondria. Heart tissue, neurons in the brain and other highly active tissues are very sensitive to this system. Even small changes in ATP can have profound effects on the tissues' ability to function properly.

Of all the nutritional supplements available to us currently, creatine appears to be the most effective for maintaining or raising ATP levels.

How does creatine work?

In a nutshell, creatine works to help generate energy. When ATP loses a phosphate molecule and becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP), it must be converted back to ATP to produce energy. Creatine is stored in the human body as creatine phosphate (CP) also called phosphocreatine.

When ATP is depleted, it can be recharged by CP. That is, CP donates a phosphate molecule to the ADP, making it ATP again. An increased pool of CP means faster and greater recharging of ATP, which means more work can be performed.

This is why creatine has been so successful for athletes. For short-duration explosive sports, such as sprinting, weight lifting and other anaerobic endeavors, ATP is the energy system used.

To date, research has shown that ingesting creatine can increase the total body pool of CP which leads to greater generation of energy for anaerobic forms of exercise, such as weight training and sprinting. Other effects of creatine may be increases in protein synthesis and increased cell hydration.

Creatine has had spotty results in affecting performance in endurance sports such as swimming, rowing and long distance running, with some studies showing no positive effects on performance in endurance athletes.

Whether or not the failure of creatine to improve performance in endurance athletes was due to the nature of the sport or the design of the studies is still being debated.

Creatine can be found in the form of creatine monohydrate, creatine citrate, creatine phosphate, creatine-magnesium chelate and even liquid versions.

However, the vast majority of research to date showing creatine to have positive effects on pathologies, muscle mass and performance used the monohydrate form. Creatine monohydrate is over 90% absorbable. What follows is a review of some of the more interesting and promising research studies with creatine.

Creatine and neuromuscular diseases

One of the most promising areas of research with creatine is its effect on neuromuscular diseases such as MD. One study looked at the safety and efficacy of creatine monohydrate in various types of muscular dystrophies using a double blind, crossover trial.

Thirty-six patients (12 patients with facioscapulohumeral dystrophy, 10 patients with Becker dystrophy, eight patients with Duchenne dystrophy and six patients with sarcoglycan-deficient limb girdle muscular dystrophy) were randomized to receive creatine or placebo for eight weeks.

The researchers found there was a "mild but significant improvement" in muscle strength in all groups. The study also found a general improvement in the patients' daily-life activities as demonstrated by improved scores in the Medical Research Council scales and the Neuromuscular Symptom scale. Creatine was well tolerated throughout the study period, according to the researchers.1

Another group of researchers fed creatine monohydrate to people with neuromuscular disease at 10 grams per day for five days, then reduced the dose to 5 grams per day for five days.

The first study used 81 people and was followed by a single-blinded study of 21 people.

In both studies, body weight, handgrip, dorsiflexion and knee extensor strength were measured before and after treatment. The researchers found "Creatine administration increased all measured indices in both studies." Short-term creatine monohydrate increased high-intensity strength significantly in patients with neuromuscular disease.2

There have also been many clinical observations by physicians that creatine improves the strength, functionality and symptomology of people with various diseases of the neuromuscular system.

Creatine and neurological protection/brain injury

If there is one place creatine really shines, it's in protecting the brain from various forms of neurological injury and stress. A growing number of studies have found that creatine can protect the brain from neurotoxic agents, certain forms of injury and other insults.

Several in vitro studies found that neurons exposed to either glutamate or beta-amyloid (both highly toxic to neurons and involved in various neurological diseases) were protected when exposed to creatine.3 The researchers hypothesized that "? cells supplemented with the precursor creatine make more phosphocreatine (PCr) and create larger energy reserves with consequent neuroprotection against stressors."

More recent studies, in vitro and in vivo in animals, have found creatine to be highly neuroprotective against other neurotoxic agents such as N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and malonate.4 Another study found that feeding rats creatine helped protect them against tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), which produces parkinsonism in animals through impaired energy production.

The results were impressive enough for these researchers to conclude, "These results further implicate metabolic dysfunction in MPTP neurotoxicity and suggest a novel therapeutic approach, which may have applicability in Parkinson's disease."5 Other studies have found creatine protected neurons from ischemic (low oxygen) damage as is often seen after strokes or injuries.6

Yet more studies have found creatine may play a therapeutic and or protective role in Huntington's disease7, 8 as well as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).9 This study found that "? oral administration of creatine produced a dose-dependent improvement in motor performance and extended survival in G93A transgenic mice, and it protected mice from loss of both motor neurons and substantia nigra neurons at 120 days of age.

Creatine administration protected G93A transgenic mice from increases in biochemical indices of oxidative damage. Therefore, creatine administration may be a new therapeutic strategy for ALS." Amazingly, this is only the tip of the iceberg showing creatine may have therapeutic uses for a wide range of neurological disease as well as injuries to the brain.

One researcher who has looked at the effects of creatine commented, "This food supplement may provide clues to the mechanisms responsible for neuronal loss after traumatic brain injury and may find use as a neuroprotective agent against acute and delayed neurodegenerative processes."

Creatine and heart function

Because it is known that heart cells are dependent on adequate levels of ATP to function properly, and that cardiac creatine levels are depressed in chronic heart failure, researchers have looked at supplemental creatine to improve heart function and overall symptomology in certain forms of heart disease.

It is well known that people suffering from chronic heart failure have limited endurance, strength and tire easily, which greatly limits their ability to function in everyday life. Using a double blind, placebo-controlled design, 17 patients aged 43 to 70 years with an ejection fraction


MORE RESOURCES:

Irish Medical Times

Supplements, Exercise Fail to Improve Cognitive Function
Medscape
A physical activity program and nutrient supplementation interventions failed to improve cognitive function and lower the risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia, according to two new studies. In one trial, led by Kaycee M. Sink, MD, from ...
No cognitive improvements from exercise or supplementsIrish Medical Times

all 2 news articles »


Pioneer News

Omega-3 Supplements Ineffective In Preventing Neurodegeneration, Study Says
Pioneer News
Nutritional supplements have been a hotbed for debate of late and one of the most closely examined recently has been Omega-3 fish oil tablets. Studies have suggested that supplementing these fatty acids in your diet could help with brain function. The ...
Omega-3 Supplements Have No Benefit For Cognitive Decline -- StudyScience Times
Well | Supplements Don't Fight Cognitive Decline, NIH Study SaysNew York Times (blog)
Omega 3 supplements not beneficial for cognitive decline: studyLatinos Health
NYC Today -The Market Business -California Turkish Times
all 102 news articles »


Lompoc Record

Study: Easy does it on Vitamin D supplements for obese teens
Lompoc Record
"After three months of having vitamin D boosted into the normal range with supplements, these teenagers showed no changes in body weight, body mass index, waistline, blood pressure or blood flow," Kumar said. "We're not saying the links between vitamin ...



Male eating disorder? New report on workout supplements
Military Times
Theodore recently co-wrote a paper with psychologist Richard Achiro to study whether the use of dietary supplements such as protein powders, creatine and other performance- and muscle-enhancing boosters contribute to unhealthy eating habits — and ...



Care2.com

This Supplement May Save Seniors from Falls
Care2.com
Furthermore, those individuals who received the supplements reported a lower rate of falls than their counterparts who only received a placebo. Additional investigation is needed to validate the vitamin D intervention's reduction in falls, but this ...



The Inquisitr

FDA Powdered Caffeine Warning About Supplements After Deaths: How Much Coffee ...
The Inquisitr
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants consumers to beware of pure powdered caffeine. Usually sold in supplements, caffeine powder overdoses have killed two people. As a result, five distributors have received the FDA's letters about their ...
Pure Powdered Caffeine a Serious Health Risk: FDAWebMD
FDA warns powdered caffeine distributors about safety concernsUPI.com
What Happens to Your Body After Taking Pure Powdered CaffeineYahoo Health
The Consumerist
all 262 news articles »


The Hill (blog)

FDA cracks down on dietary supplements
The Hill (blog)
In April this year, the FDA expanded its policy of restricting the sale of adulterated dietary supplements containing untested additives. Many of the substances targeted are dangerous and worthy of restriction. The synthetic additive DMAA is one such ...



Newsmax

ISU researcher examines how supplements, resistance training improve muscle ...
News-Medical.net
Rick Sharp, a professor of kinesiology, is testing the effectiveness of a combination of supplements and resistance training in older adults with low vitamin D levels. The trial is designed to build on previous studies, which show that the supplement ...
Supplement Boosts Muscle Strength in Seniors: StudyNewsmax

all 6 news articles »


Duluth News Tribune

Multivitamins and supplements: To take or not to take?
Duluth News Tribune
For some people, however, taking certain supplements may be the best way to get nutrients they may be lacking through diet. So, Harguth cautions, it's important to understand the exact impact supplements will have on your body before getting out your ...
Lowdown on taking vitamins, supplementsWatertownDailyTimes.com

all 2 news articles »


Newsweek

Omega 3 is still good for the brain. But 'fish oil supplements just don't cut it.'
Washington Post
Consumers may want to rethink popping fish oil pills if they're hoping those supplements full of omega-3 fatty acids will keep their brains healthy. A new study--one of the largest and longest in duration of its kind--finds that taking omega-3 ...
Omega-3 Supplements Are a Waste of MoneyNewsweek
NIH study shows no benefit of omega-3 or other nutritional supplements for ...National Institutes of Health (press release)
Study questions benefits of fish oil supplementsFox News
Chicago Tribune -TIME -UPI.com
all 161 news articles »

Google News


Advertisement



Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright © 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.