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Micronized Creatine Side Effects

by  JOE KING, M.S.
author image Joe King, M.S.
Joe King began writing fitness and nutrition articles in 2001 for the "Journal of Hyperplasia Research" and Champion Nutrition. As a personal trainer, he has been helping clients reach their fitness goals for more than a decade. King holds a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology from California State University, Hayward, and a Master of Science in exercise physiology from California State University, East Bay.
Micronized Creatine Side Effects
Micronized creatine is a fine white powder that is used as a performance-enhancing supplement.

Creatine is a compound that is naturally produced in your body by your pancreas. It is primarily stored in your skeletal muscles to be used in the production of energy, especially during exercise. Micronized creatine is a commercially manufactured form of creatine that consists of very fine creatine particles. The smaller creatine particles are absorbed faster in your small intestine and may act more effectively in your body than other forms of creatine supplements. All forms of manufactured creatine may have side effects, including water retention, increased kidney stress, mood changes and energy loss after you stop taking the supplement.

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Water Retention

Micronized creatine causes your body to retain water in your skeletal muscles. This water retention will leave your muscles looking bigger and fuller, but may also leave you more susceptible to dehydration. By pulling more water into your muscles, less water is available to your other tissues to perform their normal functions, causing your body to experience symptoms of dehydration. Dehydration causes nausea, diarrhea and confusion, and can also lead to fatigue during exercise. Drinking adequate amounts of water while taking micronized creatine may decrease your risk of dehydration, but may increase the amount of water retention in your muscles.

Kidney Stress

By pulling more water into your muscles, your blood becomes more concentrated with toxins and cellular byproducts. These compounds are filtered through your kidneys before they are excreted in your urine. Higher concentrations of toxins flowing through your kidneys can cause kidney stress, and in some cases, kidney failure. These effects are worsened if you have weak kidneys, or an underlying kidney condition. Elevated levels of toxins in your bloodstream may cause the acidity in your blood to rise because your kidneys cannot filter out the toxins fast enough. This may lead to difficulty breathing and potential organ failure.

Mood Changes

Micronized creatine supplements may change the chemical balance in your brain due to a thickening of your blood plasma. Changes in serotonin and dopamine production may be associated with high creatine levels in your body. Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters produced by your pituitary gland and influence your mood. Low levels of these neurotransmitters may lead to depression and anxiety, and can increase stress and irritability.

Energy Loss

The main effect of micronized creatine monohydrate is to provide your skeletal muscles with a potential to produce greater amounts of energy more quickly during exercise. After you stop supplementing with micronized creatine, your muscles will have less creatine available to them, causing you to experience a significant drop in energy during exercise. This rapid energy loss may lead to chronic fatigue and a decrease in exercise performance. You may also experience a loss in body weight due to a decrease in the amount of fluid retention in your muscles.

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  • "Journal of Hyperplasia Research"; Creatine: A Meta-analysis; JD King; 2005
  • "Anabolic Primer"; Phil Embleton and Gerard Thorne; 1998
  • "Human Anatomy and Physiology"; Elaine N. Marieb; 2004
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