High levels of total cholesterol are a warning sign of potential disease, but there are some types of cholesterol that you want to raise. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as the good cholesterol because it helps to reduce levels of low-density lipoproteins, LDL, the cholesterol that can contribute to heart disease. Many foods and supplements have an effect on cholesterol levels; some are positive, while others are not. Creatine is often found as a supplement that can favorably affect cholesterol levels.
Creatine is a type of amino acid primarily found in the muscles of the body. Many athletes use creatine to support muscle mass and increase exercise ability because it forms a compound that can boost energy in activities such as weight lifting or sprinting. Its use as a power-enhancing supplement is controversial among some college and professional sports associations. According to the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus service, creatine may also work to improve high cholesterol levels.
Creatine affects cholesterol levels, but not necessarily by raising levels of bad cholesterol; instead, creatine is sometimes used to lower high levels of total cholesterol. According to the website for the University of Michigan Health System, a 1996 study by C. P. Earnest, et al., published in “Clinical Science” found that taking 5 g of creatine combined with glucose four times a day followed by twice daily for 51 days reported significant decreases in triglycerides, a type of cholesterol found in the bloodstream that, in excess amounts, contributes to poor health.
You can help your total cholesterol by increasing the amount of exercise you do. According to MayoClinic.com, 30 minutes of exercise five times per week can increase your HDL cholesterol, the type that reduces fatty plaque buildup in the bloodstream. Because some people use creatine to promote muscle strength during exercise, using creatine supplements can promote more exercise, which may ultimately increase your HDL cholesterol levels.
The body creates some of the creatine you need through the liver, kidneys and pancreas. The rest can be gained through your diet. Creatine is found in meat sources, such as lean, red meat; fish, including salmon, herring and tuna; and wild game. You may also take creatine in supplement form, which come in various preparations. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, creatine is available as an initial loading dose, which among adults is approximately 5 g four times a day, followed by a regular maintenance dose of 2 to 5 g daily. To reduce cholesterol, you may take 20 to 25 g of creatine daily for five days, followed by a maintenance dose of 5 to 10 g daily.
Consult with your doctor about taking creatine supplements for your cholesterol. Side effects of creatine include muscle cramps, dizziness, high blood pressure and nausea. Excessive use of creatine may cause a breakdown of muscle tissue, which can lead to kidney damage. Creatine supplements may also limit the body’s ability to produce its own, so although you may feel you are adding creatine to your body to help with cholesterol, you may eventually reduce your overall amount.