Creatine is a compound that stores and supplies energy to body cells, mainly those of skeletal muscle, making it of particular interest to athletes and body builders. Creatine is obtained from foods such as lean meats and cold water fish, including salmon, herring and tuna and is also produced from dietary amino acids in the kidneys and liver. Creatine purportedly improves strength, endurance, energy and recovery rates, though its effectiveness and safety are subjects of debate among researchers. Consult with a qualified health professional before supplementing with creatine.
Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome
Creatine reversed both fibromyalgia pain and depression associated with posttraumatic stress disorder according to a study published in the October 2006 "American Journal of Psychiatry." The connection between creatine and depression arises from the fact that both muscle and brain cells use creatine for energy, according to the researchers, and that lower than normal levels of creatine tend to occur in fibromyalgia. In the study, four weeks of creatine supplementation reduced symptoms of muscle and joint pain and depression and increased quality of life by 30 percent. Creatine supplementation was continued beyond the study period and continued improvement was reported after eight weeks.
Short-term supplementation with creatine improved some aspects of muscle strength in older men, contributing to preservation of function and preventing age-related decline, in a study published in the March 2002 "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise." Preservation of muscle function leads to decreased stress and strain on joints and less risk for degenerative joint disease. In the study, participants were given creatine supplementation for seven days. Maximum dynamic strength, in which a body part is moved through a range of motion and maximum isometric strength, whereby a muscle is contracted without joint movement, both increased significantly without any adverse effects. The researchers concluded that creatine may be a useful adjunct for older adults to preserve ability to carry out tasks of daily living.
Creatine supplementation allows supplementers to do more physical work with fewer aches and pains, according to a U.S. study published in the June 2010 "Nutrition." In the study, participants were given creatine for six weeks. After the study period, tests of muscle strength and body fat composition showed no significant change, however resistance to muscle fatigue increased significantly in the creatine group compared to the control group that did not receive creatine.
Fibromyalgia patients supplemented with creatine experienced improvements in symptoms, according to an Israeli study published in the September 2009 "Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences." In the study, 30 fibromyalgia patients were supplemented with creatine for eight weeks. Significant improvement in severity of pain, quality of life and sleep, and decreased levels of disability were observed. The researchers also reported that improvements were lost within four weeks of stopping creatine.
Caffeine and Creatine
Caffeine and amino acids consumed together with creatine can boost the anti-fatigue properties of creatine on muscles, reducing wear and tear on joints, according to a U.S. study published in the September 2010 "Nutrition Research." The study looked at speed, distance and time to exhaustion in runners and found that, while maximum speed was not affected, time to exhaustion was increased, indicating a greater ability to work longer with less muscle and joint stress.