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Is Creatine Safe for Long-Term Use? (Science Explained)

Updated: Jan 16

Evidence-Based. Scientifically Reviewed.

Creatine, a popular supplement among athletes, is often used to enhance muscle mass and exercise performance. Its long-term safety is a subject of extensive research.

Current research suggests that long-term creatine supplementation is generally safe, with no significant adverse effects, though more comprehensive long-term studies are needed.

In this article, we examined the research and studies to determine whether or not creatine is safe for long-term use.

Evidence on Long-Term Safety

Below are the outcomes of various studies we've analysed.

1. Weight Gain and Potential Organ Impact

Creatine can cause weight gain due to water retention. There is limited research on its long-term effects on organs like the heart, brain, and testes (Juhn & Tarnopolsky, 1998).

2. Safety in Adolescents

Studies suggest creatine is safe with minimal risk for adverse events in adolescents, though research is limited (Jagim et al., 2018).

3. General Health Markers

Long-term creatine use does not significantly affect markers of health in athletes, showing no adverse effects on kidney, liver, or muscle function (Schilling et al., 2001).

Long-term supplementation (up to 21 months) appears safe, with no significant impact on serum, whole blood, and urinary markers of clinical health status in athletes (Kreider et al., 2003).

4. Side Effects and Organ Systems

Short-term studies show creatine is well-tolerated, but there are some concerns about potential side effects on multiple organ systems.

Isolated reports suggest creatine may be associated with various side effects affecting several organ systems including skeletal muscle, the kidney and the gastrointestinal tract.

However, the majority of clinical studies fail to find an increased risk of side effects with creatine supplementation.

Long-term consequences remain uncertain (Persky & Rawson, 2007).

5. Kidney Function

Both short-term and long-term creatine use does not significantly affect kidney function in healthy athletes and bodybuilders without underlying kidney diseases (Davani-Davari et al., 2018).

Another 12-week study showed that creatine supplementation did not impair kidney function in resistance-trained individuals on high-protein diets, reinforcing its safety (Lugaresi et al., 2013).

6. Creatine in Older Adults

Long-term use of creatine (up to 1 year) in older adults does not produce adverse effects on bone health, lean mass, or muscle function (Lobo et al., 2015).

7. Use in Parkinson's Disease

Long-term supplementation (2 years) in aged patients with Parkinson disease indicated no significant side effects, focusing on renal function and overall safety (Bender et al., 2008).

Is Creatine Safe?

Current research indicates that creatine supplementation is generally safe for long-term use in various populations, including athletes and older adults.

There is overwhelming evidence to suggest creatine is safe for consumption, with only isolated reports showing concern over safety or side-effects.

However, more studies are needed to fully understand its long-term impacts on specific organ systems and in individuals with pre-existing health conditions.

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