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Is Creatine Supplementation Safe & Effective for Youth?

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

This article may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. The information presented is not Medical Advice and should not be treated as such. Always talk with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, taking a new supplement or embracing a major lifestyle change. Do not start or stop any medication without first discussing with your doctor.


Answering the questions, "Is Creatine Good for Kids?", "How old do you need to be to take Creatine?" and "Is Creatine Safe for Kids?"


The Dietary Supplement Industry is a 50 Billion Dollar Industry in the United States and a 178 Billion Dollar Industry worldwide, with expected growth to 327 Billion by 2030. It is no surprise that the amount of companies and products entering this market every year is substantial, and marketing is at the forefront of promising athletes better performance and individuals trying to get healthier an easier way.


Supplements may promise weight loss, muscle growth or faster times, but not all supplements are actually beneficial. Although they may not be harmful when taken, they will drain your pocketbook. Even worse, the supplement industry is an unregulated market. Supplement companies who take the cheap way out and utilize factories that don't practice Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) may end up with cross contamination issues, and companies are allowed to hide how much of each ingredient may be in a supplement by hiding behind the terminology "Proprietary Blend."


That however is not to say that certain supplements can't be beneficial to athletes and individuals trying to improve their health. It is important to note that no amount of supplementation can overcome lack of exercise or proper nutrition.


Of all the supplements available on the market, creatine is at the forefront of supplements that have been proven effective. Before we answer the question is creatine supplementation safe and effective for youth, let discuss what exactly is creatine and how the body uses it.


What is Creatine


Creatine is an essential amino acid that is found in red meats and seafood and is also produced by the liver, pancreas and kidneys at about 1g a day. It is primarily stored in muscles and the brain as phosphocreatine.


Our body utilizes three different energy systems during exercise to produce the fuel and energy to perform: oxidative, anaerobic glycolysis, and ATP-PCr.


Our oxidative system utilizes oxygen and fat as a primary source of fuel that breaks down and creates Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which is utilized by the working muscles. The oxidative system requires oxygen as part of the requirements of energy production. Thus it is the primary energy system during longer bouts of exercise at efforts below threshold pace. Think of this as your marathon system.



The Anaerobic system, meaning without the presence of oxygen, utilizes carbohydrates as the primary source of fuel. This system will last about 2 minutes in an untrained athlete and up to 4 min in a trained athlete. It is however important to note that the byproduct of this energy generation is lactate, or more commonly known as lactic acid. This system is the primary system for production of ATP at efforts over Lactate Threshold.


The third energy system is where creatine comes into play. The ATP-PCr system utilizes adenosine triphosphate and phosphocreatine to rapidly produce energy in large quantities. This allows for rapid movement, sprinting and lifting heavy weights. When utilized as a primary energy system it will last approximately 8 second in an untrained individual and 15 seconds in a trained individual.


All three energy systems work simultaneously, but as effort increases the percentage of ATP derived from each changes.


Latest research has looked at the use of creatine in treating various muscular conditions, neurological conditions and even brain performance. It is important to note, that many studies have confirmed the harm of creatine supplementation in individuals with poor kidney function.


The use of creatine for supplementation has been shown to increase muscular strength, power, endurance and hypertrophy (size). Supplementation has also repeatedly shown improvement in swimming performance.


Just like many of the other things I discuss in these articles and on my show. Creatine is just another tool in the toolbox for performance and recovery. If at the end you decide not to utilize creatine, there are many other ways to improve performance. The research on performance variables however is rather straight forward in the fact that creatine is in fact a beneficial tool for increasing performance.


Is Creatine Safe


Creatine has long sparked interest in the world of academia and research and is the most studied supplement sold to date. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (2007) wrote a 9-point Positional Statement after performing an exhaustive Literature Review:


"1. Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.

2. Creatine monohydrate supplementation is not only safe, but possibly beneficial in regard to preventing injury and/or management of select medical conditions when taken within recommended guidelines.

3. There is no scientific evidence that the short- or long-term use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental effects on otherwise healthy individuals.

4. If proper precautions and supervision are provided, supplementation in young athletes is acceptable and may provide a nutritional alternative to potentially dangerous anabolic drugs.

5. At present, creatine monohydrate is the most extensively studied and clinically effective form of creatine for use in nutritional supplements in terms of muscle uptake and ability to increase high-intensity exercise capacity.

6. The addition of carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein to a creatine supplement appears to increase muscular retention of creatine, although the effect on performance measures may not be greater than using creatine monohydrate alone.

7. The quickest method of increasing muscle creatine stores appears to be to consume ~0.3 grams/kg/day of creatine monohydrate for at least 3 days followed by 3–5 g/d thereafter to maintain elevated stores. Ingesting smaller amounts of creatine monohydrate (e.g., 2–3 g/d) will increase muscle creatine stores over a 3–4 week period, however, the performance effects of this method of supplementation are less supported.

8. Creatine products are readily available as a dietary supplement and are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Specifically, in 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed into law the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). DSHEA allows manufacturers/companies/brands to make structure-function claims; however, the law strictly prohibits disease claims for dietary supplements.

9. Creatine monohydrate has been reported to have a number of potentially beneficial uses in several clinical populations, and further research is warranted in these areas."


Find more about this study Here!



Creatine for Kids


While creatine use, benefits and safety have gone through exhausting review in adults, very few studies have been performed in regards to adolescents. We found a couple research articles and literature reviews on the topic, but there still lacks a large base of research. Jagim and Kersick (2021), report on the current base of research published up until the time of their publishing, but express the need for further in-depth studies. Read more here.


Creatine for Kids Summary


There is no doubt that creatine has performance enhancing capabilities. This is especially true of athletes and individuals who consume a vegan or vegetarian diet. as the primary source of creatine in our diets comes from red meats.


However, due to the lack of research in adolescent populations, parents need to make a decision for their families on the use of creatine. We know that over 15% of high school athletes have reported using creatine with some studies showing upwards of 30% with no reported side effects and no linked issues. I know that I have several athletes currently supplementing with creatine and seeing performance benefits as a result. And I have even recommended the use of creatine to my strength athletes, however it doesn't change the fact that the decision needs to be a team effort between coach, athlete, doctors and families.



Is Creatine Safe For Youth






Research:


Buford, T. W., Kreider, R. B., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Campbell, B., Spano, M., Ziegenfuss, T., Lopez, H., Landis, J., & Antonio, J. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4, 6. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-4-6


Jagim, A. R., & Kerksick, C. M. (2021). Creatine Supplementation in Children and Adolescents. Nutrients, 13(2), 664. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu13020664


Tags: is creatine safe for a 15-year old, can a 14 year old take creatine, how old do you need to be to take creatine, creatine 16 year old, Creatine for Kids

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