Creatine is best known for improving athletic performance in young people; however, it may also improve the symptoms of certain medical conditions, including Parkinson's disease, muscular dystrophy, a muscle disease called McArdle's disease and an eye disease called gyrate atrophy, according to MedlinePlus. Speak with your doctor to determine whether creatine is safe for you and the proper dose to use for your purposes.
Athletes often start taking creatine with a loading dose for two to five days. This dose is higher than what they will take once they increase their body's stores of creatine. This dose might be 5 grams of creatine taken four times per day, or about 20 grams per day, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Taking this creatine along with a source of carbohydrate, such as fruits or starchy foods, may improve its absorption. If you do not want to take a large loading dose of creatine, some people take 9 grams per day for 6 days or 3 grams per day for 28 days, either of which may cause a similar increase in your creatine levels.
After an athlete finishes taking the loading dose, he will typically lower the amount of creatine he takes each day to a maintenance dose of about 2 grams per day, although some people use a maintenance dose as high as 5 grams per day. As long as you are taking creatine, you should also drink at least 64 ounce of water per day, recommends MedlinePlus, because your muscles retain more water when you are taking this supplement.
For Health Problems
Doses for creatine vary, based on the condition it is being used to treat. People with gyrate atrophy sometimes use a dose of 1.5 grams per day, and people with muscular dystrophy might take 10 grams per day. For heart failure, people sometimes use a dose of 20 grams per day for between 5 and 10 days. This same dose is used as a loading dose for 5 to 6 days when beginning creatine for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Follow this loading dose with 5 grams per day of creatine or 2 grams per day for 5 months and then 4 grams per day for 18 months. Alternatively, some people take 10 grams per day of creatine for Parkinson's disease.
Potential Side Effects and Contraindications
If you have diabetes or kidney problems, you shouldn't take creatine. Children under 18 and pregnant or nursing women should also avoid creatine because of a lack of research on the safety and long-term effects of creatine use in these populations. Potential side effects include dehydration, upset stomach, muscle cramps, reduced blood volume and electrolyte imbalances. Creatine use may also cause nausea, diarrhea and seizures in some people.