Creatine is an organic acid involved in the energy system of cells, mostly in skeletal muscle. According to “The Ultimate Creatine Handbook,” individuals with severe cases of creatine deficiency syndrome can present with expressive speech and language delay, mental retardation and epilepsy. These medical conditions result from inborn errors of creatine synthesis. Additionally, a study published in the October 1981 "Journal of the American Medical Association" found that patients with connective tissue diseases typically have low serum creatine phosphokinase levels.
Creatine plays an essential role in energy storage and transmission in your tissues, including your skeletal muscle and brain. Your body either uses creatine from food sources through intestinal absorption or synthesizes creatine in your kidneys, pancreas and liver. Your body then converts creatine into creatinine, which your kidneys excrete through urine.
Physiologic Role of Creatine
Creatine serves an essential function in tissue energy metabolism in your muscles and nervous system. Creatine also helps your body regulate the breakdown of glucose and produce energy from the glucose molecule. According to “Creatine: The Power Supplement,” creatine supplementation can increase muscle fiber by up to 35 percent. Additionally, creatine can stabilize membranes. This stabilization then facilitates a steady nervous transmission. Further, creatine concentration in the brain may play a role in regulating appetite and body weight.
Low Levels of Creatine
According to “The Ultimate Creatine Handbook,” low creatine levels can lead to muscle, respiratory and circulatory diseases and rheumatoid arthritis. Creatine deficiency syndrome is a cluster of genetic diseases that can affect individuals at a very early age. Individuals with creatine deficiency syndrome have extremely low levels of creatine in their bodies, especially if they do not get enough creatine through their diets or if they participate in heavy physical activity.
Creatine monohydrate is a dietary supplement. According to “Essentials of Creatine in Sports and Health,” you can use this supplement to increase muscle mass and improve performance in short-duration, high-intensity exercise. Athletes, weight lifters and body builders commonly use supplements with creatine monohydrate. Manufacturers produce this supplement in both powder and tablet form. Athletes taking creatine as part of an exercise regimen can expect to gain between 2 and 10 lbs. over four to 10 weeks. Creatine can make athletes bigger but not more skillful or agile. Between 20 percent and 30 percent of people who take creatine supplements show no physical benefits from the use of the supplement. Individuals with low creatine levels also can take creatine supplements as part of a medical regimen designed to treat the creatine deficiency. You should speak with a medical professional prior to taking any creatine supplement.
- Medline Plus: Creatine
- "JAMA"; Clinical Significance of Low Creatine Phosphokinase Values in Patients with Connective Tissue Diseases; N. Wei, et al.; October 1981
- "Creatine: the Power Supplement"; Melvin Williams; Richard Kreider and J. David Branch; 1999
- "Essentials of Creatine in Sports and Health"; Jeffrey R. Stout, Jose Antonio and Douglas Kalman; 2010
- "The Ultimate Creatine Handbook: The Safe Alternative for Healthy Muscle Building"; Joseph A. Debe and Donna Caruso; 2003