Creatine and Kidney Health for AthletesNov 01, 2023
You may be familiar with the benefits of using creatine supplementation to improve athletic performance and perhaps you are even up to date on the latest research linking the use of creatine to enhanced cognitive functioning. But have you heard of the proposed negative interaction between creatine and the kidneys?
The Basics of Creatine
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in certain foods and synthesized within the body, primarily in the liver, kidneys and pancreas. It plays a crucial role in supplying energy to cells, which makes it so advantageous for many different parts of the body.
Critics of creatine supplementation often point to concerns about potential kidney damage. This concern stems from the fact that creatine is primarily excreted through the kidneys in the form of creatinine, a waste product of muscle metabolism. Some worry that the increased levels of creatinine resulting from supplementation may put excessive strain on the kidneys.
Luckily, extensive research has been conducted to investigate the relationship between creatine supplementation and kidney health. The overwhelming majority of studies have failed to establish a clear causal link between creatine consumption and kidney damage in healthy individuals.
A meta-analysis published in 2017 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (1) examined 12 studies involving over 500 participants and concluded that short to medium-term creatine supplementation (up to 5 years) did not appear to have adverse effects on kidney function in healthy subjects.
Moreover, a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (2) found no relationship between consuming more creatine and kidney failure in U.S. adults. It appears that high‐creatine consumers, who eat about 5 times more creatine per day than their low‐creatine peers, show no higher risk of kidney failure.
Considerations for Certain Populations
While creatine supplementation appears to be safe for healthy individuals, caution should be exercised for those with pre-existing kidney conditions. Individuals with kidney disease or compromised kidney function should consult their healthcare provider before considering creatine supplementation.
As with any dietary supplement, it is crucial to approach creatine with knowledge. Reach out to any of the eNRG Performance Sport Dietitians to help you with your supplementation plan.
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