originally published at vitaminking.com.au

If you couldn’t believe the title because you see no logical argument to not use creatine then you’re with us.  That was our exact reaction when stumbling across possibly one of the most misleading and ill-founded articles ever written on the subject.  It was published by an organisation known as Advanced Physical Medicine in the USA and is the kind of article that makes you question whether some medical professionals really do their scientific research at all.

Misinformation is nothing new in the health industry.  Supplement side-effect myths, alongside exorbitant claims, make up a large bulk of the health and fitness pseudoscience that misdirect the masses and cause confusion around an already complex subject.  For that reason no individual can ever be called silly for asking questions that may seem obvious to some.  However, for a health professional (and so-called scientist) to be making such unfounded statements is beyond silly.  Especially when those statements go directly against that which we have so much evidence for.  It would be akin to a cosmologist writing an article stating the earth is flat, or a biologist listing 5 reasons against evolution.  Below (in italics) is a list of these ridiculous claims alongside a response.  I’ll leave it up to you to determine whether they need one or not:

“Internal Organ Risks”

“The heart, kidney and liver can be damaged by creatine.”

What!? Issues concerning creatine consumption and our main filtration organs have been raised plenty of times over the years and for valid theoretical reasons.  However, these fears about kidney and liver safety have been put to bed time and time again [1, 2].  Heart damage though?  That’s on another level.  There is no scientific evidence to suggest creatine use can cause heart damage.  In fact contrary to that, scientists have actually been examining the potential benefits for creatine supplementation in individuals suffering heart conditions such as obstructive pulmonary disease, hyperhomocysteinaemia and mitochondrial disease with cardiac manifestations [3-5].

“Lower Sports Performance”

“The swelling of water can… slow down performance in many athletic sports”

*Punches hole through computer screen*.  Can you actually believe what you just read? “[Creatine] lowers sports performance”.  That’s what it said, just in case you couldn’t believe your eyes the first time around.  Literally thousands of scientific references could be inserted her to prove the exact opposite of this blaspheme-like statement.  Creatine improves athletic performance.  If making a particular weight is crucial for your given sport then creatine supplementation should be halted for a short period up until your weigh-in.  However this has nothing to do with performance.  Athletes use creatine as it increases performance.  Full stop.

“Stomach Issues”

“Stomach issues like cramps, nausea, diarrhea, gas… typically occur when people ignore the normal dosages of Creatine”.

Replace the word creatine in that sentence with any desired compound or food of your choosing and chances are it will read exactly the same.  Can’t think of one?  Try milk, lactose, chocolate, watermelon, apples, bread, beer etc. When you consume too much of one thing it makes you sick.  The normal dosage for creatine is 5g/day every day or 20g/day for 5-7 days followed by maintenance and “off” periods.  For most average sized humans there’s no reason to use more than this.  Oh and FYI, eating it by the spoonful might cause you an upset stomach.  Just in case your common sense didn’t remind you of this.

“You Can’t Drink Coffee”

“Never combine Creatine with medications or herbal supplements, as many of them can cause serious and fatal results. … and users should be sure to limit their caffeine intake”.

There is no way I’m going out on a limb and saying creatine will not interact with ANY medications and herbal supplements.  The only reason for this is that the contraindications between creatine and every compound known have not been tested.  What I will say is that current scientific literature concurs that creatine supplementation carries with it no known safety issues.  How a health professional comes to the conclusion that creatine, when taking with herbal supplements, “can cause serious and fatal (yes death) results” is absolutely beyond words.  Don’t combine it with caffeine?  Looks like we’ll be wiping almost every single pre-workout off the market… because you know, combining caffeine and creatine is bad.

“Babies Hate It”

“Pregnant or nursing women should avoid Creatine at all costs”.

Even if the cost is the child’s health?  Research into creatine use for expectant mothers (and in early childhood development) is fairly new, however there are some positive signs.  There is evidence to suggest creatine supplementation may improve fetal and neonatal mortality in high-risk pregnancies.  One particular study found that “creatine loading before birth significantly protects the diaphragm from hypoxia-induced damage at birth” [6].  There are also known case studies where creatine supplementation elicits a positive effect on young individuals suffering metabolic disorders [7].  Whilst this is not grounds to start suggesting pregnant mothers and one year old infants begin smashing con-cret every morning, it is a vast contrast to the ill-founded statement that they should “avoid it at all costs”.

 

The take home message?

Some would say that the key message is to never take anything you read on the internet as fact.  It is inexplicably true that it is far easier to be told what to believe than it is to research the evidence for yourself.  As such, yes, never take what you hear or read as absolute fact.  However, there is a certain impracticality in trying to research and understand every topic of human study.  We rely on those in positions of “authority” in their field to tell us what we need/want to know.  Most of us won’t grasp quantum mechanics or the existence of black holes, but we’ll take what Hawking’s says as pretty darn close to the truth without questioning him.  We rely on people in these positions of “authority” to do the research for us.  My message is for those individuals.  If you’re in a position where people take what you say as the truth, then you are obliged to do your research and present your opinions based on the evidence it provides coupled with your reasoning.  You are also obliged not to state things with certainty when said things are far from certain.  That goes for those in medicine/health and continues into everything other topic of human research.

*Chronic excess consumption of creatine (like most compounds) may have an impact on health.  This should be assumed for anything you put in your body.  Stick to the recommended dosages.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Groeneveld, G.J., et al., Few adverse effects of long-term creatine supplementation in a placebo-controlled trial. Int J Sports Med, 2005. 26(4): p. 307-13.
  2. Shao, A. and J.N. Hathcock, Risk assessment for creatine monohydrate. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol, 2006. 45(3): p. 242-51.
  3. Korzun, W.J., Oral creatine supplements lower plasma homocysteine concentrations in humans. Clin Lab Sci, 2004. 17(2): p. 102-6.
  4. Fuld, J.P., et al., Creatine supplementation during pulmonary rehabilitation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Thorax, 2005. 60(7): p. 531-7.
  5. Komura, K., et al., Effectiveness of creatine monohydrate in mitochondrial encephalomyopathies. Pediatr Neurol, 2003. 28(1): p. 53-8.
  6. Cannata, D.J., et al., Maternal creatine supplementation from mid-pregnancy protects the diaphragm of the newborn spiny mouse from intrapartum hypoxia-induced damage. Pediatr Res, 2010. 68(5): p. 393-8.
  7. Leuzzi, V., et al., Brain creatine depletion: guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency (improving with creatine supplementation). Neurology, 2000. 55(9): p. 1407-9.