Creatine is a chemical substance that occurs naturally in the human body, especially in the muscle tissue (95%). It is available on the market in various forms (creatine phosphate, creatine malate, creatine citrate, creatine ethyl ester), but more often under the name creatine monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate is the most effective substance and frequently demanded by athletes to increase muscle mass, strength and stamina. It should be noted that although creatine is not a drug but a dietary supplement, it should be taken only after consulting a doctor and elimination of contraindications to its use.
Creatine is involved in the metabolism of multifunctional energy-containing molecules – ATP (adenosine triphosphate) – required to sustain intracellular structures.
Creatine is a fairly safe substance when used in normal doses. The likelihood of side effects is minimum. However, there may be the following adverse reactions:
The most serious of these side effects of creatine are, of course, dehydration (especially severe dehydration), renal failure and emergence of life-threatening arrhythmias. Therefore, it is important to use creatine in recommended doses agreed with your doctor.
There is lack of scientific information on the use of creatine during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Therefore, it is better not to risk the health of the child and refrain from taking creatine during this period, all the more so that the substance is not prescribed under emergencies.
In children and adolescents, creatine should be used only during emergencies, such as during the inability of the enzyme systems to synthesize endogenous creatine, as well as during certain neuromuscular dystrophies. In other cases – to increase muscle development, taking of creatine should begin no earlier than from 18-19 years old. The side effects in children and adolescents are similar to those in adults and most often include muscle spasms, tension, dizziness, obesity, hypertension and gastrointestinal disorders.
Due to the dehydration effect of creatine, it is necessary to monitor the additional supply of water in the body, try not to exercise in hot rooms, or do excessive strenuous activity. Creatine is not recommended for people suffering from diabetes and urolithiasis. Caution should be taken when taking creatine while undergoing treatment with drugs that have nephrotoxic effects, such as NSAIDs (including ibuprofen, naproxen, indomethacin, piroxicam), aminoglycoside antibiotics, some immunosuppressants such as cyclosporine, etc. People suffering from renal or hepatic failure are also not recommended to take creatine. Caution should be taken when combining creatine with caffeine, ephedrine (increases the risk of side effects on the cardiovascular system, such as stroke), and diuretics. So, if you are taking other medicines, be sure to consult your doctor about the possibility of taking creatine.
Despite the fact that there is no direct evidence of the incompatibility of creatine and alcohol, these substances have opposite effects. First, creatine retains water, while alcohol has a strong diuretic effect. Secondly, an important metabolic product of the conversion of ethanol in the body is acetaldehyde, whose toxicity is 20-30 times higher. Acetaldehyde causes all the intoxication effects of alcohol. The body requires increased amounts of fluid to extract toxic acetaldehyde, but because of water deposition in the tissues under the influence of creatine, the toxic effect of alcohol persists for much longer. If the need arises, then alcohol and creatine are better used at different times of the day so that the concentration of one of them can have time to as much as possible lower the intake of the other into the body.