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Creatine: Supplements, What Works

Creatine is an energy-producing substance that works as an energy storehouse and recharges the energy molecule adenosine triphosphate. Creatine is often used by bodybuilders and other athletes in high-intensity, explosive sports.

Dietary sources are meat and fish, though cooking can destroy it. Vegetarians are not able to get a presynthesized, concentrated form of creatine from their diet.

  • Supplementation increases muscle creatine. In a 1995 study by Gordon of congestive heart failure patients, researchers found that creatine supplements did increase creatine phosphate in skeletal muscle, but only in patients whose total creatine level was relatively low to begin with. In this group, supplementation significantly increased strength and endurance.

  • Sports performance. Creatine supplementation will not improve performance in endurance types of exercise, such as long-distance running, but does significantly improve performance in short-duration, high-intensity exercise. In a 1994 study of athletes by Birch in England, cellular energy production was higher and more efficient. A 1993 study by Dr. Paul Greenhaff found that creatine supplementation significantly increased performance of subjects doing maximal knee extensor exercise. According to Burke in 1996, a group of elite swimmers who received creatine supplementation showed no significant improvement. From a 1996 study of runners by Redondo, no statistically significant effect on sprint velocity was found.

 

Although creatine has no well-documented negative effects, supplementation does not seem necessary for daily maintenance of optimum health. However, it may help for specific power sports and bodybuilding. Athletes considering creatine supplementation for such purposes should consult with a sports medicine specialist.

 

 

 

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From THE BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.
Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.


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