Experts confirm safety and efficacy of creatine supplements

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/designer491
© iStock/designer491

Related tags: Creatine supplementation, Creatine

Creatine supplementation is safe and has a number of health benefits in populations ranging from infants to the elderly, according to a new position paper from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN).

This state-of-the-evidence review paper, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,​ cites over 200 published studies. The paper concludes that populations from adolescents to older adults demonstrated ergogenic benefits from creatine monohydrate supplementation with no clinically significant or serious side effects, determining that dosages ranging from 0.3 to 0.8 g/kg per day, taken for several years, are safe for those taking the supplement.

Short- and long-term studies showed that, in addition to benefits for athletic performance, creatine supplementation may also play a role in injury prevention and enhanced recovery. In addition, the supplements may have potential therapeutic benefits in various clinical populations.

Countering misinformation about the safety of creatine supplementation

rbkreider
Richard Kreider, PhD, Texas A&M University

Richard Kreider, PhD, Director of the Exercise & Sport Nutrition Lab in the Department of Health & Kinesiology at Texas A&M University and lead author on the paper, told NutraIngredients-USA that, despite a large body of evidence about the safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation, misinformation about the safety of creatine supplementation continues to appear in the popular media and occasionally the scientific literature. 

“This updated position stand provides a definitive review of the safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine,”​ said Dr Kreider. “Comments and public policy related to creatine supplementation should be based on careful assessment of the scientific evidence from well-controlled clinical trials; not unsubstantiated anecdotal reports, misinformation published on the Internet, and/or poorly designed surveys that only perpetuate myths about creatine supplementation.

“Given all the known benefits and favorable safety profile of creatine supplementation reported in the scientific and medical literature, it is the view of ISSN that government legislatures and sport organizations who restrict and/or discourage use of creatine may be placing athletes at greater risk—particularly in contact sports that have risk of head trauma and/or neurological injury thereby opening themselves up to legal liability. This includes children and adolescent athletes engaged in sport events that place them at risk for head and/or spinal cord injury.”

Sharing the conclusions with state legislators and policymakers

Some concerns have been raised by case reports linking creatine to kidney damage. Such reports have led to legislators in some states to propose limiting access to creatine. For example, earlier this year, the Honorable Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill in New York State (Bill A04712​) to ban the sale of creatine supplements to minors, but this has not gone anywhere.

“[T]here is no compelling evidence that creatine supplementation negatively affects renal function in healthy or clinical populations,” ​wrote the ISSN authors.

The position paper’s conclusions were welcomed by Mike Greene, Sr VP of government relations at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), which commissioned the review and provided a grant to Dr Kreider.

“The paper emphasizes that hundreds of studies have been conducted on creatine monohydrate and results consistently demonstrate that it is ‘well-tolerated’ and safe to consume by healthy individuals,”​ said Greene.

“We welcome these conclusions from scientists who have most closely investigated this ingredient, and we plan to share this published paper broadly, particularly with state legislators and policymakers who may not be familiar with creatine’s strong safety profile.”

Source: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
2017, 14​:18, doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z
“International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine”
Authors: R.B. Kreider et al. 

Related topics: Research, Sports nutrition

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