There are so many supplements available that it can be difficult to know which ones are right for you. They all come with a pitch about how they do this or that, but if you take them all, you’ll go broke. The key to successful supplement shopping is picking the ones that offer the most benefits.
One of the supplements I consider most beneficial is creatine monohydrate. It is most closely associated with athletes as a sports supplement used to increase strength, speed, and endurance but it also has a number of health benefits that are great for non-athletes that are often overlooked.
Creatine occurs naturally in the body and is used for energy and muscle function. It can also be acquired in trace amounts through red meat. To boost levels, which become more important with age, supplementation is recommended.
I think creatine monohydrate is such a useful supplement because along with muscle building and retention, it also helps with brain metabolism and psychological disorders. I recommend its use even for people who don’t exercise regularly as a way to ease the aging process.
Osteoporosis is a big concern associated with aging. What you hear less about, and in my opinion is a more serious condition, is sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the degeneration of muscle mass that affects people as they age. Considering America has an aging population, this is of increasing concern.
It’s important to remember that muscles are what protect your bones. For example, when you stand, the pressure is not solely on your feet or knees. The majority of the weight is on the muscles in your legs, stomach, and back. That’s part of the reason why we see many elderly folks slouched or hunched over: their bones are paying the price for the diminished muscle that should be giving them support.
Creatine supplementation helps maintain the muscle you have and makes it less prone to degeneration. If combined with a light exercise program and a diet with sufficient protein, its effects are even more pronounced.
Another benefit of creatine monohydrate may be an ability to improve the effectiveness of medication taken to treat major depressive disorder.
A study followed 52 women with major depressive disorder for a randomized, eight week double-blind placebo-controlled trial (the gold standard for scientific research). They were divided into two groups where one took a popular SSRI medication with a placebo, while the other took the same medication with a dosage of creatine. The creatine group showed significant improvements in just two weeks, while the same margin of improvement continued to the end of the study. It was noted that the inclusion of creatine prompted the medication to work faster, improve treatment response, and potentially restore brain bioenergetics.
In addition to sarcopenia and major depressive disorder, creatine has also been used to treat Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, and heart failure.
If you decide to use creatine, it’s important to note a few factors that will help you get the most benefit from it. First off, you want to make sure you select creatine monohydrate. There are a number of variations, but monohydrate is the one with the data to prove its effectiveness. Next, you want to make sure it’s manufactured in Germany by a company named Creapure. They sell to a number of other companies, so look for their logo somewhere on the package.
Lastly, to absorb it properly, it needs to be completely dissolved in warm water. Stir it until the water is completely clear before drinking. It doesn’t have to be consumed warm, so you can let it sit before you drink it (a serving size is five grams).
Creatine isn’t very expensive and it can be found in any health food store. Give it a try for a couple of months and see if it works for you!
Lyoo, L., et al., “A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial of Creatine Monohydrate Augmentation for Enhanced Response to a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor in Women with Major Depressive Disorder,” American Journal of Psychiatry web site, September 1, 2102; http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleID=1306075, last accessed March 12, 2014.
Candow, D., “Sarcopenia: Current Theories and the Potential Beneficial Effect of Creatine Application Strategies,” National Institutes of Health web site, August 2011; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21373890, last accessed March 12, 2014.
Brink, W., “Sarcopenia, The Undiagnosed Epidemic,” Brinkzone web site, January 25, 2007; http://www.brinkzone.com/articles/sarcopenia-the-undiagnosed-epidemic/, last accessed March 12, 2014.
Nordqvist, J., “What Is Creatine? What Are The Benefits of Creatine?” Medical News Today web site, July 12, 2013; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263269.php, last accessed March 12, 2014.