Is Creatine Safe for Teens?
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is an organic compound found naturally in all humans along with many animals and is located primarily within the skeletal muscles. It is also the most extensively researched dietary supplement. There have been over a thousand studies done in the past two decades. Consistently these studies have shown data of there being minimal to no health risks involved with taking creatine supplementation while simultaneously displaying tremendous benefits.
What Does Creatine Do?
Creatine serves a crucial role in ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) production. ATP is a molecule responsible for delivering energy throughout cells and is a crucial component of high-intensity anaerobic activity. High-intensity anaerobic activity includes the likes of weightlifting, sprinting, and athletics. Creatine supplementation results in an increase in creatine levels within your body enabling a greater production of ATP.
What are the Benefits of a Creatine Supplementation?
Creatine is considered a top dietary supplement in regards to its effectiveness. There is an overwhelming amount of data that suggests an increase in athletic performance with supplementation both short-term (5-7 days) and long-term (weeks – months). Examples of athletic benefits include enhanced post-workout recovery, improved strength/explosiveness, and increased stamina in anaerobic activity. Quicker and more effective post-workout recovery enables athletes and weightlifters to achieve more in a shorter amount of time. One study shows an 18% increase in high anaerobic stamina, a 20% increase in exercise repetitions with a lighter weight, and a 5% increase in a one-rep max bench press.
Other Potential Benefits
In addition to the more well-known athletic benefits creatine supplementation provides, newer studies show data of potential neurological advantages. The given studies indicate that creatine supplantation possibly contains a neuroprotective property. The neuroprotection can aid concussion prevention, a prevalent issue among adolescent athletes. There are also links between this somewhat unknown property of creatine and its possible treatment of elderly who have diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Is Creatine Safe for Teens?
Most studies done on the safety/benefits of creatine have used adults in their research. Currently, there is not much literature on creatine and its effects specifically on teens. The small number of studies that do include a teenage study, do not indicate any negative effects, similar to those done on adults. Despite the enormous amount of research on creatine supplementation with adults containing data that supports minimal to no health risk, those studies do not directly correlate to adolescents. This unknown creates a common misconception that creatine is proven unsafe for teenagers. This claim is contrived not on data-based evidence, but instead on the fear of what is not known. The lack of data concerning teens is a legitimate concern although, emerging data supports the claim that creatine is safe for teens. Modern/future creatine studies are beginning to put more emphasis on the specific effects creatine has on teens. More studies will continue to come out which will give experts a more intelligible understanding of the supplement specific to teenage use.
What are the risks of taking Creatine?
Despite the convincing number of studies that show a lack of risk involved with taking creatine, there are some things to consider before taking it. For example, individuals with asthma have experienced worsened symptoms such as increased inflammation and difficulty breathing. It is warned against taking drugs like aspirin, alive, and ibuprofen in conjunction with creatine. Anyone interested in taking creatine should consult with a doctor, especially regarding those with any medical abnormalities. Proper creatine supplementation is important. Taking the wrong amount or in the wrong way can result in kidney/liver difficulties. Supplementing creatine consistently and maintaining proper hydration throughout the entire day are things to prioritize.
Prevalence of Creatine
Creatine is an increasingly popular supplement for both teens and adults. High school and collegiate athletes across the country take creatine as part of their health/training plan. It is not clear what percentage of high school athletes use creatine, although it is believed that anywhere from 10-20% of them report using it at some point. At the collegiate level, approximately 30% of division 1 athletes report taking some form of creatine supplementation. 50% of NFL athletes are on creatine. The amount of athletes using creatine has/continues to rise as more research surrounding its safety surfaces.
So, is creatine safe for teens? The answer to that question depends on what your view of safe is. Something considered safe by one person may not be looked at the same way as the next. Treat creatine the same as any other well-researched supplement. For instance, it should be looked at the same way as protein powder. Both creatine and protein are compounds found naturally within the human body, and both have proven benefits. Both, if taken incorrectly, can be hard on your organs. Yet, creatine is usually compared more closely with anabolic steroids than it is with protein. This is both an unfortunate and false representation. Unlike steroids, creatine is naturally found within the body as well as in many of the foods we eat, just like protein is.
It is very important to consider that everyone is different and could exhibit varying effects from supplements. Consider doing self-concerning research pertaining to creatine and its effects on individual health conditions. That being said, for most people, proper and consistent creatine supplementation is considered safe by experts based on the numerous studies surrounding it.
- National Library of Medicine – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6279854/
- Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children – https://www.arnoldpalmerhospital.com/content-hub/should-i-let-my-teen-use-creatine
- Off-Season Athlete – https://offseasonathlete.com/benefits-of-creatine-for-teen-athletes/
- American Academy of Pediatrics – https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/108/2/421/63924/Creatine-Use-Among-Young-Athletes?
- USADA – https://www.usada.org/spirit-of-sport/education/athletes-need-know-creatine/
- Mayo Clinic – https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-creatine/art-20347591#:~:text=Creatine