Jan 08

Creatine HCL: Is It Safe For You?

creatine1In the past year, Americans have taken 4 million kilograms of the amino acid called creatine. It is used in treating congestive heart failure, depression, Parkinson’s disease and a variety of muscle dystrophies.

Mostly, however, athletes use it to increase muscle mass and improve exercise performance. While colleges can’t give it to their student-athletes out of their school funds, no sports organization has banned its use. Why is it used? Let’s examine how it works.

Creatine is made in the body’s liver, pancreas and kidney by combining the amino acids glycine and arginine. It is found in some foods such as lean red meat and fish. People also make it in labs to put in supplements. Once it is ingested, it becomes ATP, a source of energy. This is used to grow the muscle fibers used in short bursts of strenuous exercise.
A person taking creatine will probably gain weight. If they strength train, it may add to their muscle mass. It doesn’t work for everyone, though. It seems that skeletal muscles get saturated with creatine and then simply pass it out of the body through the kidneys. People with naturally high levels of creatine don’t get any boost in body mass.
It doesn’t seem to do much for older people, either. No one has studied how it affects children, so no one uses it on them. For those who can benefit from trying it, taking it with carbohydrates seems to help.A normal dose would be 2g daily for someone over 19. Many athletes cram 20s in daily for 5 days in a row as part of their training programs.
Creatine supplements have few side effects at most doses when they are used for up to 6 months. Really big doses administered over a long period of time can produce dizziness, kidney and liver damage, high blood pressure, muscle cramps, and upset stomachs. Anyone looking to take a supplement should talk to their doctor first because of the risk of drug interactions.
Caffeine, for instance, can make it hard for the body to use creatine. Diuretics and NSAID painkillers such as aspirin also shouldn’t be combined with creatine supplements, as that will increase the risk for kidney problems.
Creatine has been declared safe at normal doses by the EU and the FDA. Most studies agree with this assessment. You will probably see creatine in health food stores for a long time to come.

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