The first myth that we would like to debunk is the idea that creatine is only for bodybuilders looking to gain weight and get bigger muscles. Though creatine supplementation lends itself perfectly for an environment including highly variable, functions movements performed at high intensiy (hint hint) there are several other benefits that aren’t discussed as much.
Creatine for Life
Creatine is a highly researched supplement that has been found to have many uses in terms of health and longevity in addition to gains in the box, gym, or playing field. This article will provide a brief overview of how creatine can be beneficial to the general population merely looking to extend a high-quality, physically active lifestyle.
Generally speaking, as an organism ages, their cells lose the efficiencies that help to accomplish basic tasks. Cells will eventually succumb to stress or lack of function and will undergo cytokinesis (cell death). Cells rely on the mitochondria to produce energy for the cells through ATP synthesis (adenosine triphosphate; being the fuel source for muscular contraction). That is where creatine comes in, as its primary function is to serve as a catalyst converting ADP (adenosine diphosphate) into ATP.
As you age, your muscles will begin to deteriorate no matter what physical activity you do. The onset of this muscular breakdown, known as sarcopenia, occurs around age 40 and will significantly increase over the decades to come (Doherty 2003). Various studies from separate laboratories have found that the combination of small doses of creatine (5 grams) combined with resistance training has assisted in the development of lean mass in older males and females (Brose et al 2003). The persistence of muscle tissue into the older years is essential in living a self-reliant lifestyle.
Another benefit of creatine is its capability to increase cellular metabolic rates in aging individuals. The decreasing ability of cells to produce energy has been strongly correlated to older age. Creatine supplementation has been theorized to be “one of the most effective and safe non-prescription compounds currently available to improve cellular energetics” (Brink 2004).
Moreover, creatine supplementation has also been shown to increase growth hormone secretion when taken in larger doses, similar to the effects of exercise (Schedel et al 2000). This study found that a 20g creatine dosage increased subsequent growth hormone levels in a small sample of males. Decreasing growth hormone in aging males is a common problem and countering the decline in HGH production is understood to greatly increase your physical quality of life (Jorgensen et al 2011). As such, it appears beneficial to supplement any diet with creatine to help improve cellular respiration, quality of life, and longevity.
Recommendation: Brose et al (2003) found that supplementing an active life style with 5g of creatine per day increased cellular energetics, which would be critical for both men and women. Additionally, Schedel et al (2000) found that natural boosts in growth hormone took 20g creatine supplementation, which can greatly help aging males to restore strength and muscular endurance.
Brink, W. (2004) The Creatine Report. Internet Publications, 1st edition.
Brose, A., Parise, A. & Tarnopolsky, M.A. (2003) Creatine supplementation enhances isometric strength and body composition improvements following strength exercise training in older adults. Journal of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 58, 11-19.
Doherty, T.J. (2003) Invited Review: Aging and sarcopenia. Journal of Applied Physiology, 95, 1717-1727.
Jorgensen, A. P., Fougner, K.J., Ueland, T., Gudmunsen, O., Burman, P., Schreiner, T. & Bollerslev, J. (2011) Favourable long-term effects of growth hormone replacement therapy on quality of life, bone metabolism, body composition and lipid levels in patients with adult-onset growth hormone deficiency. Growth Hormone & IGF Research, 21, 69-75.
Schedel, J.M., Tanaka, H., Kiyonaga, A., Shindo, M. & Schutz, Y. (2000) Acute creatine loading enhances human growth hormone secretion. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 40, 336-342.
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals.