The most popular nutritional supplement in the western world, is without a doubt, multivitamins. Doctors still prescribe multivitamins to everyone, from toddlers to the elderly, despite little evidence to support their effectiveness. On the other hand, there is ample scientific data to support daily use of creatine, and yet, many label it as dangerous, and most doctors appear to be ignorant of it.
The latest evidence shows that this supplement may really be for everyone, not just bodybuilders. Let’s look at the science and ignore the non-intelligent.
If you have ever read anything about creatine, you are aware that it has been used by strength athletes and bodybuilders for years to enhance energy during exercise, because it has a powerful effect on increasing ATP, the body’s energy source. Among the types of cells that rely on adequate levels of ATP are heart cells, and these levels are always very low in people susceptible to heart failure.
However, when scientists gave creatine to heart patients in a recent study, the patients got stronger, and they had enhanced energy.
One of the most important pieces in the longevity equation is having healthy mitochondria, which are the powerhouses that provide energy to the human body. More energy equates to happier mitochondria, which determines not only how long a particular cell lives and thrives, but also how long the organ that the cell belongs to lives and thrives. So, ultimately, healthy mitochondria means healthy tissues and organ, and unhealthy mitochondria means the opposite, which means a shorter life span.
And studies have shown for over 40 years now that creatine helps mitochondria to thrive. In fact, more recent studies suggest that creatine may be more effective than any other nutritional supplements in this regard.
Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle tissue as part of the natural aging process. Unless you take necessary measures to prevent sarcopenia, it’s going to happen. Lifting weights is probably the best way to prevent sarcopenia – because you are giving your muscles a reason to be strong, but now, there are multiple studies that show that creatine supplementation alone – without lifting – is enough to reverse sarcopenia to some degree. These results are a bit surprising but also exciting.
- Creatine lowers blood sugar when combined with exercise
- Creatine can increase the formation of osteoblasts (cells that make bone), which can help with bone formation and bone repair
- Creatine can help reduce fat accumulation in the liver for people
- Creatine can help people with fibromyalgia
Supplementing with Creatine
- Start with a good quality creatine monohydrate. There is no need to get fancy types. The old fashioned monohydrate is cheap but effective.
- Take 5 grams (approximately 1 TBSP) daily.
- Studies suggest it is most effective taken post-workout. So, add it to your post-workout shake/smoothie.
TC Luoma has quipped “Not only should creatine be in a lifter’s protein drink, it should also be added to Dad’s Budweiser, Mom’s soy milk, Nana’s chamomile tea, and grandpa’s gruel. Hell, we might even find some day there’s a case for adding it to Junior’s sippy cup or juice box.”
Persky, A. M., & Brazeau, G. A. (2001). Clinical pharmacology of the dietary supplement creatine monohydrate. Pharmacological Reviews, 53(2), 161-176.
Gualano, B., Novaes, R. B., Artioli, G. G., Freire, T. O., Coelho, D. F., Scagliusi, F. B., … & Lancha Jr, A. H. (2008). Effects of creatine supplementation on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in sedentary healthy males undergoing aerobic training. Amino acids, 34(2), 245-250.
Antonio J, Ciccone V. “The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength.” Journal of International Society Sports Nutrition. 2013 Aug 6;10:36.