Creatine is a nutrient that can offer myriad benefits to almost everyone, especially those of us who are interested in maintaining an effective metabolism as we age.
Numerous studies show great possibilities for the use of creatine in muscle size and strength, longevity, brain integrity, neuromuscular function, heart health, and chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia disorders.
Creatine–manufactured within our bodies from three amino acids (methionine, glycine, and arginine)–is an important part of our cells’ energetic system. It combines with phosphates to form creatine phosphate (CP), which is responsible for replenishing energy-rich phosphates. These phosphates are used to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main energy currency that runs your cells’ machinery. The more CP in your muscle tissue, the more ATP can be made. It is this constant stream of energy that drives overall metabolism, including our ability to burn excess body fat.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, discovered that compared to healthy individuals, patients suffering from energy deficit disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, generally have lower levels of both ATP and CP. Although there are currently no studies that relate creatine to either syndrome, research does show that individuals who suffer from low levels of ATP/CP are able to increase their bodies’ levels of these energy substances through creatine supplementation.
Creatine is found in animal protein foods such as beef, herring, and salmon, which is why vegetarians often have lower muscle stores of this important nutrient. Research presented in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research showed that creatine supplementation restored creatine levels (and increased ATP re-synthesis) in vegetarians to levels similar to those found in non-vegetarians.
Creatine supplementation can be beneficial for older individuals as well as people just starting out on a resistance exercise program. Supplementation has been shown to improve protein synthesis, enhance cell hydration, increase growth hormone levels, and lower excess cholesterol. In 1997 Italian researchers discovered that retaining muscle mass is the most important determining factor in our ability to experience a longer, healthier life. Studies indicate that a loss of muscle mass correlates to loss of brain function and nervous system function.
Australian researchers have discovered that creatine supplementation can aid in overall brain performance. The study, which used 45 young adult, vegetarian subjects in the gold standard of clinical methodology (double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over), showed that creatine had a significant positive effect on boosting tasks that require speedy processing, such as memory and intelligence.
Creatine possesses an impeccable safety record, even when supplemented continuously for a five and-a-half year period. However, anyone suffering from liver or kidney disorders, or those susceptible to such ailments, should seek the advice of a physician before starting creatine. Look for pharmaceutical-grade micronized creatine monohydrate for best effects.
Following are recommended dosages:
Men: 5 g per day taken immediately after exercise (especially resistance exercise) with water or in a protein/carbohydrate shake.
Women: 3 to 5 g per day taken immediately after exercise (especially resistance exercise) in a protein/carbohydrate shake.