What Is Creatine? – A Steroid It Is Not
Identified in 1832 by Michel Eug?ï¿½ne Chevreul, Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in all vertebrate life forms, including humans. The basic function of Creatine is to provide energy to all cells in the body, primarily muscle cells during contraction. Creatine is produced by the liver, and up to 95% of it ends up being stored in skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscles are muscles that can be contracted voluntarily, as opposed to the heart, for example. Creatine is produced by the body from the amino acids L-arginine, glycine and L-methionine.
While Creatine is produced by the body, as it occurs naturally in animals it is also absorbed through food, primarily through the consumption of meat and animal products. Both fish and meat – beef, pork, etc – are sources of Creatine, but eating liver and offal is generally the best source of Creatine that can be naturally added to a diet. For those conscious of their Creatine intake, it is very difficult to reach the optimal amounts using only food; for example, one would have to eat over 500 grams of fish (more than a pound) each day to reach recommended Creatine levels, which is why Creatine supplements are so popular.
Creatine supplements are widely available, both in stores and online. Supplements usually take the form of capsules, or powder to be mixed with water or juice.
Creatine and Sports – Besides its everyday use in the body, Creatine is particularly appreciated by athletes and bodybuilders. Creatine has cell volumization properties, meaning that it encourages and promotes water retention inside cells, increasing their size, making it a favorite of bodybuilders. The energy boost Creatine provides to muscle cells also means that bodybuilders can use heavier and heavier weights, increasing the potency of their workouts and speeding up their training.
Creatine is also believed to reduce the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles; lactic acid is an energy waste product that contributes significantly to muscle fatigue.
Because of its energy-boosting properties and its propensity at reducing or delaying muscle fatigue, Creatine is widely used by athletes of all stripes, not just bodybuilders, who consider it a safe alternative to the use of dangerous anabolic steroids. Because Creatine occurs naturally in the body, its use has proven difficult to regulate and it is perfectly legal to use in most disciplines and professional associations.
Creatine and the Medical Community – Creatine is also known to help rebuild damaged muscle, and as such is used by the medical community to treat neuromuscular diseases such as muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s Disease as well as Parkinson’s Disease.
While Creatine is considered safe, it does carry the risk of minor side effects, such as loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and muscle cramps. People with kidney or liver problems should avoid Creatine supplements, since creatinine (the by-product of Creatine) is filtered by the kidneys.
Creatine is an organic acid with only minor side effects, and which provides many benefits, not only to athletes and bodybuilders, but also to those suffering from certain neuromuscular diseases as well as those recovering from surgery. Just like with any other supplement, it is recommended to consult a health care professional before starting to use Creatine to make sure there are no counter-indications in relation to medication you may already be taking.