There is no doubt: creatine is the most wildly popular bodybuilding and performance enhancing non-hormonal supplement on the market. Pennsylvania State University did a study which revealed that creatine supplementation results in increased strength and muscle mass gains.
But is creatine supplementation dangerous? Are the negative criticisms of creatine valid? Let’s take a look.
A popular criticism of creatine is that it leads to an increase in muscle cramps, muscle spasms, and pulled muscles. In a study performed at Appalachian State University, researchers found these claims to be false. A pool of 26 athletes who used creatine for up to 4 years each had a similar injury and cramping rate as athletes who did not supplement with creatine.
Another recent study, Few Adverse Effects of Long-Term Creatine Supplementation in a Placebo-Controlled Trial, revealed the same conclusion. Half of a 175 subject pool supplemented with 10 grams of creatine a day for 310 days. The other half of the subject pool did not supplement with creatine. Injury, cramping and spasms rates were the same for both groups.
Another study conducted by Truman State University researched the impact of long term creatine supplementation on the kidneys and liver. 23 football players supplemented with 14 grams of creatine a day for 3 years. The results of the study? Creatine supplementation does not harm the kidneys or liver.
In fact, it has been shown that creatine supplementation actually provides some surprising positive benefits. In the study, High-performance capillary electrophoresis-pure creatine monohydrate reduces blood lipids in men and women, creatine supplementation drove down very-low-density lipoprotein levels by nearly 33%.
Bottom line…creatine supplementation is safe. In some rare cases creatine can cause diarrhea or stomach cramps, but it does not lead to injury, muscle cramps, or kidney or liver damage.