Effects and Use Of Creatine in Bodybuilding
CREATINE IS NOT JUST FOR STRENGTH AND THE MUSCLES. WHAT IMPACTS DOES IT HAVE ON THE BRAIN, IMMUNE SYSTEM, AND GENERAL HEALTH?
The nutritional supplement creatine is well-known and well-liked among athletes who seek to enhance their athletic performance, develop more strength, or put on muscular mass. It is one of the most well-known and extensively studied supplements. However, due to its other advantages, not many people use it. Creatine affects not only athletic performance but also, for instance, brain and neurological system functions, immune system performance, and mental health. Because of this, today's discussion will centre on additional, possibly even unexpected advantages of creatine that go beyond muscular growth and power.
Creatine: What is it?
In the human body, creatine is a chemical that occurs naturally. It includes amino acids your body can use to make creatine, including arginine, glycine, and methionine. Creatine's primary function is the quick delivery of energy to tissues that require it more urgently, like muscles and the brain.
The body stores up to 95% of its creatine in the skeletal muscles, with the remainder being located in the brain, kidneys, liver, and, in men, the testicles. A man weighing 70 kg on average has 120–140 g of creatine stored in his body. On the other hand, 1% to 2% of this quantity is naturally converted to creatinine, which is eliminated in the urine.
To keep its normal level, the body needs to take supplements containing 1-3 g of creatine. That primarily depends on the mass of the muscles. The body produces the remaining portion, with around half coming from your diet. The body's primary source of creatine production is the liver, with minor contributions from the pancreas and kidneys.
Your body's creatine reserves are filled to about 60–80% capacity thanks to a typical, varied diet. These reserves can be supplemented to make up the missing 20–40%.
What foods have creatine in them?
Animals' skeletal muscles are where most of their creatine is kept, just like in humans. Therefore, animal foods like meat and fish are the finest suppliers of it. The intestines contain a small quantity of creatine as well. For instance, those who don't eat these items, such as vegans and vegetarians, frequently have lower creatine reserves and may benefit from supplementation.
It would be interesting to know that meat and fish typically include 3-5 g of creatine per 1 kg for persons who eat those foods.
You can get about 0.6 g of creatine from a standard 150 g serving of beef, which is less than half of what you should get from food.
The action of creatine
Due to its ability to regenerate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body's primary energy source, very fast, creatine acts as an instant supply of energy.
ADP (adenosine diphosphate) is produced after ATP is used as energy, such while exercising or lifting weights. However, ADP must be changed back into ATP in order to extract more energy. However, there are times when ATP regeneration is not fast enough, such as during intensive anaerobic exercise. Creatine enters the picture at that point.
The body contains phosphocreatine, which makes up around 60% of the total amount of creatine. When necessary, the phosphate group in phosphocreatine can swiftly bind to ADP to produce ATP. Creatine plays a crucial function in times where the body requires a quick and abundant supply of energy, such as during the previously described high-intensity performances. 
However, the body's requirement for an immediate energy boost is not limited to muscle hypertrophy. Other bodily functions also utilise creatine for this purpose.
What impact does creatine have on health?
Athletes frequently utilise creatine to enhance their performance, support their strength, or facilitate muscular growth. Its advantages don't stop there, either. It turns out that creatine is crucial for a variety of processes, including brain functions, regeneration, and preserving stable blood sugar levels. What outcomes does creatine produce?
1. It promotes muscular mass growth, strength, and performance
Creatine's capacity to rapidly deliver energy to the muscles and hence enhance performance and strength is its most well-known and well studied effect. The muscles' ability to utilise creatine phosphate during repeated short bursts of high-intensity exercise is increased by the usage of creatine. You can continue to perform at a higher level of intensity and hence get better results. [6,12]
Supplementing with creatine also promotes the development of lean muscle mass. The creation of the proteins that build up muscle fibres is probably aided by creatine. Additionally, it binds some water, increasing its concentration in muscle cells. The result is an increase in the volume and weight of the muscles.
Additionally, it promotes regeneration
Apparently, creatine aids in the body's regeneration following strenuous activity. The storage of dietary carbohydrates as glycogen in the muscles is supported by creatine. The effective restoration of muscle mass requires glycogen, which can assist avoid overtraining.
Muscle fibres are naturally injured during strenuous physical activity, such as strength training. Creatine has been demonstrated to hasten their recovery. There was a decline in indicators of muscle damage (substances whose amount increases during muscle injury), such as creatine kinase, in trials that tracked the effect of creatine on muscle damage following exercise. 
It can also be useful in the treatment of injuries and cases of muscle atrophy (loss of muscle mass, for instance as a result of illness, inactivity, etc.). It has been demonstrated to lessen the inflammatory response that occurs frequently when muscles are damaged.
3. It also has an impact on the brain and mental faculties.
It takes a lot of energy for the brain and nervous system's cells to operate properly. Up to 20% of the body's daily energy intake is used by the brain. Creatine functions in this instance as a fast source of phosphate groups for the synthesis of ATP, similar to how it does in muscle cells. Creatine probably gives the brain energy when it needs it most, such during challenging cognitive tasks or under stressful circumstances like hypoxia or lack of sleep (lack of oxygen). Additionally, this explains why creatine is a substance that naturally exists in the brain.
There are a few hereditary conditions that affect how creatine is metabolised and cause mental and developmental problems. Creatine therefore seems to play a significant function in mental and cognitive capacities.
The brain, in contrast to muscles, can produce creatine on its own and is less reliant on dietary intake or generation by other organs. However, supplementing with creatine can be beneficial if the original level is low due to a variety of factors.
Creatine's inclusion among nootropics in recent years is not a coincidence. These chemicals have been shown by science to have an impact on memory, concentration, learning ability, and other brain functions.
Lack of sleep and creatine
Your body and brain are subjected to a significant strain when you don't get enough sleep. It has been demonstrated that a brain that is sleep deprived has lower amounts of creatine than a brain that has gotten enough good, extended sleep. Thus, consistent creatine use may help to improve brain function when people are sleep deprived.
However, even if scientists were 100% convinced of this impact, it wouldn’t be reasonable to rely entirely on creatine and disregard sleep. High-quality sleep lasting 7-9 hours is still the best thing you can do for the operation of your body and brain.
In what instances might the use of creatine be advantageous for the brain?
Demanding cognitive tasks (information processing, memory, attention, concentration, etc) (information processing, memory, attention, concentration, etc.)
Situations in which higher functioning of the brain is necessary -demanding job periods, increasing educational commitments, working hours, etc.
Lack of sleep
Genetic abnormalities of creatine metabolism
When using creatine supplements, its levels in the brain rise slower compared to muscles. It seems that its amount increases by 5-15%. However, there is currently no exact recommended amount of creatine for boosting brain functions. Nevertheless, it is likely that higher doses should be taken compared to those that are indicated for muscle function support (3-5 g every day) (3-5 g every day).
4. It can also impact depression and other mental illnesses
Reduced amount of creatine often shows in patients who suffer from mental problems, such as depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It seems that an insufficient amount of creatine in the brain could contribute to the development of these disorders. Its supplementation and consequent restoration of optimal creatine reserves probably helps to alleviate their symptoms.
The results of several studies indicate that vegetarians, who lack meat and creatine in their diet, have a higher risk of developing depression than people who eat meat. Those who don’t even have fish in their diet can have an even greater deficiency. Supplementing creatine and increasing its levels in the brain can thus have an anti-depressant effect
5. It might help prevent harm to the nervous system.
The antioxidant properties of creatine help to shield nerve cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. In the case of oxidative stress, these have detrimental effects on cells and attack and damage them, which can hasten the onset of various diseases.
The performance of a cell's mitochondria has a significant impact on the health of that cell, including nerve cells. It's common to think of mitochondria as cellular powerhouses that generate ATP and other forms of life energy. However, they also serve as a major source of the aforementioned free radicals' formation. The antioxidant action of creatine appears to safeguard the mitochondria, thereby defending the cells themselves. Thus, it can aid in preventing neurological conditions like Alzheimer's disease.
6. It may alter how neurodegenerative diseases progress.
The progression of some neurodegenerative illnesses, like Parkinson's or Huntington's disease, may also be impacted by creatine.
Parkinson's patients have fewer dopaminergic receptors, which are responsible for producing dopamine. Dopamine deficiency reduces the amount of impulses that are transmitted between individual nerve cells. As a result, tremors, restricted muscle movement, or other symptoms like speech impediments may appear. According to research, using creatine may enhance muscle performance and lessen some Parkinson's disease symptoms.
For some neurological conditions, there is typically less phosphocreatine in the brain. For instance, Huntington's disease, which causes jerky movements and diminished mental capacity, falls under this category. It appears that taking creatine can help shield neurons from metabolic harm. Additionally, it appears that it could aid in the development of nerve cells that become dysfunctional in Huntington's disease (particularly GABAergic
7. It lowers blood sugar levels.
It turns out that individuals who require assistance with achieving and maintaining a stable blood sugar level may find benefit from taking creatine (so-called glycemia). These include individuals with diabetes mellitus or, as an illustration, those who have impaired glucose tolerance. This is a condition where the body already struggles to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range but it has not yet developed into full-blown diabetes.
By encouraging the release of insulin and lowering insulin resistance, creatine likely lowers blood sugar levels. The glucose transporter type 4 in the muscle cell wall, which acts as a bridge to transport sugar from the blood into the cells, performs better when creatine is present. An increase in GLUT4 activity causes more blood sugar to enter cells, lowering blood sugar levels.
Creatine and insulin actually complement each other very well. Insulin aids in the delivery of creatine to the cells. As a result, taking creatine with carbohydrates is advantageous. This will facilitate creatine uptake and support its cellular storage.
8. It could benefit cardiovascular health.
Creatine also appears to have an effect on cardiac muscle. It has been established that creatine likely contributes significantly to preserving the energy supply during various ischemic events. Ischemia is a condition where there is reduced or restricted blood flow to a particular area of the body, as might occur in the event of a myocardial infarction. Therefore, it can likely at least partially protect the heart during an ischemic event.
The prevention of atherosclerosis, which increases the risk of a heart attack by causing blood vessel narrowing and damage to the vessel wall, may also be aided by creatine. Creatine might be involved, for instance, in the wall of the blood vessel. It appears to lessen some immune cells' adhesion to the vessel wall when its levels are high in the wall cells.
9. It also affects how the immune system reacts.
According to studies, creatine has immunomodulatory effects, which means that it aids in immune system regulation. It appears to have an impact on T-lymphocyte production and function, which is important for identifying tumor or infection cells among other things. Creatine's ability to increase ATP production may help T-lymphocyte receptors function more effectively.
Additionally, it appears that creatine has an anti-inflammatory effect because it decreases the production of cytokines that promote inflammation. The actions of other immune system cells, known as macrophages, are also influenced by cytokines. They appear to be the mechanism by which creatine supports actions such as tissue healing.
The process known as phagocytosis, in which these immune cells engulf and eliminate foreign and damaged (such as tumour) cells, is one of the primary functions of macrophages. It is a very energy-intensive process, and creatine may be able to help.
10. It can help with fatigue relief
According to research, mental fatigue is linked to the brain's lower creatine levels. The amount of lactic acid, which is produced under anaerobic conditions (without access to oxygen), appears to increase in this state at the same time.
Therefore, it's possible that fatigue develops when the brain's energy requirements aren't satisfied. Creatine would likely be able to provide a quick source of energy in this situation as well, reducing fatigue.
Increasing creatine levels may also lessen fatigue brought on by the previously mentioned lack of sleep.
Why Are You Always Tired? has more information on how to combat fatigue. The Top 7 Causes and Their Fixes.
11. It can also help to maintain the skin's health and condition.
Even the skin, which is the largest organ in your body, is impacted by creatine's advantageous effects. Creatine levels that are adequate and their antioxidant effect appear to have an impact on mitochondrial function and, consequently, cell health.
Creatine applied locally to the skin, such as in the form of a cream, may also be advantageous. Creatine appears to have an impact on collagen synthesis as well, which may help, for example, to prevent wrinkles from forming. 
12. It also has an impact on health as we age.
The aforementioned points make it abundantly clear that creatine has advantages outside of athletics. It's also untrue that creatine is only appropriate for children and teenagers. On the contrary, using it seems to have a lot of advantages for the elderly.
There is evidence that it might help with sarcopenia's symptoms. Sarcopenia, which is characterised by a slow loss of muscle mass and strength, raises the risk of injuries, impairs bodily functions, and increases mortality. According to estimates, this condition can affect up to 10% of people over 60, with the proportion likely being much higher in elderly individuals with poor health. Creatine appears to have the power to affect a number of sarcopenia-related factors.
Through the quick regeneration of ATP where it is required, it can affect enhancing or maintaining muscle strength.
It may also be able to prevent muscle atrophy by influencing several mechanisms that promote muscle growth.
A significant role is also played by creatine's antioxidant effects and its capacity to combat free radicals.
When used in conjunction with strength training, creatine's effects are likely to be even greater.
The effect of creatine on cognitive functions and memory, which frequently decline with age, can be very beneficial in the elderly. Type 2 diabetes is more likely to affect older adults. Creatine appears to assist in controlling blood sugar levels when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. Not to mention its potential advantages for the nervous system, whose functionality frequently declines with ageing.
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How long should I take creatine for safety reasons?
Creatine has been shown to be safe for long-term use when taken as directed. Creatine effects have been tracked in some studies for up to five years. No adverse side effects were noticed even after all this time.
For instance, there have been worries that taking creatine supplements can dehydrate people or harm their kidneys. But since none of this has been proven, creatine is still regarded as a safe food supplement.