Since the 1990s, creatine has been a popular supplement used mainly to increase exercise performance. In your body, creatine is made from three amino acids: arginine, glycine and methionine. And it’s made in three places: the kidneys, liver and pancreas. About one gram to two grams is made each day. We also get another gram or so from an average day’s intake of meat and fish.
Around 95% of the creatine in your body is found in skeletal muscle. One-third of this is free creatine and the other two-thirds exist as energy-rich phosphocreatine. When your body needs energy, phosphocreatine creates ATP?that is the source of energy for all the body’s cells. Creatine also increases the rate at which muscle protein is used, making muscle fibers bigger and helping with lean body mass. Supplements of creatine could actually prevent tissue damage by strengthening the membranes around each cell.
In the last 15 years, scientists have looked at how creatine might help reverse the muscle weakness and fatigue caused by so many diseases.
Two serious areas where creatine could make a difference are heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Both have roots in impaired muscle function. Muscles provide both strength and endurance, and losing either results in muscle weakness. It is known that creatine levels are low in the heart and skeletal muscles in patients with these two conditions. Therefore, researchers have found over the years that about 20 grams of creatine a day could improve muscle strength and endurance and the muscle’s response to exercise.
Creatine may also help with Parkinson’s disease. About 10 grams a day could help with muscle problems experienced and may improve quality of life, the ability to walk and even cognitive function.
For rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic and untreatable form of joint pain, creatine could be useful. Creatine has been found to help increase muscle strength, including a rise in blood and skeletal muscle levels. These results are promising.
And creatine may also have some use for spinal cord injury, hereditary muscle diseases and age-related loss of muscle strength and muscle mass. Speak to your doctor about whether creatine could have benefit for you.