Debunking The Myth: Is Creatine Bad For Your Kidneys?
Creatine, the amino acids derivative found naturally in animal proteins such as beef and fish, is a popular supplement used by athletes to help improve their performance. Despite its popularity, there have been some misconceptions about the safety of creatine use due to claims that it can damage the kidneys.
However, research has consistently shown that taking creatine does not have any serious health risks for those with healthy kidneys. Explore the science behind these claims and debunk the myths surrounding creatine and kidney health here!
Does Creatine Affect Kidney Health?
The effect of creatine on kidney health has been a debate for several years, and there is no clear consensus on whether creatine is harmful to the kidneys.
Some studies have suggested that long-term creatine supplementation in high doses may lead to kidney impairment. In one such study, chronic creatine use was found to increase markers of kidney damage (including creatinine levels and proteinuria) in a group of male athletes. However, these effects were not seen when the same athletes stopped taking creatine for several weeks.
Creatine and Kidney Health: What The Science Says
Several studies have investigated the effects of creatine supplementation on kidney function and health. Here are a few examples:
Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition
The aim of this study was to determine the effects of creatine supplements on kidney health in resistance-trained individuals ingesting a high-protein diet. The research team investigated the impact of creatine on several biomarkers, including creatinine levels and proteinuria, which are used to measure kidney function.
The results of the study showed that creatine supplementation had no significant effect on serum creatinine levels or proteinuria in healthy individuals over an 8-week period. This suggests that, when taken at recommended doses and alongside a high-protein diet, creatine is safe for kidney health.
Journal Of Renal Nutrition
The study "Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Renal Function: Review and Meta-Analysis," published in 2019, showed that creatine supplementation did not lead to any significant changes in creatinine levels, proteinuria, or other markers of kidney health. In addition, the study found that creatine supplementation did not significantly increase the risk of kidney stones or other kidney-related complications.
After an extensive analysis of 290 non-duplicated studies, 15 were selected for qualitative analysis and 6 for quantitative analysis. The qualitative analysis focused on assessing the potential effect of creatine on kidney health by analyzing biomarkers such as creatinine levels and proteinuria. The quantitative analysis looked into the risk of kidney stones or other kidney-related complications.
The results showed no significant effect on creatinine levels, proteinuria, or other markers of kidney health when creatine supplementation was used in healthy individuals over a short-term period. There also was no evidence to suggest an increased risk of kidney stones or other kidney-related complications with creatine use.
Journal Of The American Society Of Nephrology
This study investigated the effects of creatine supplementation on kidney function in healthy adults with normal kidney health. The research team looked at several markers of kidney health, including creatinine levels and proteinuria.
There are no significant changes in creatinine levels or proteinuria after 8 weeks of creatine supplementation. This suggests that taking creatine at recommended doses is safe for healthy adults with normal kidney health.
The American Journal Of Kidney Diseases
The short-term effects of creatine supplementation on kidney function due to high dosage are still relatively unknown. While some studies have suggested that long-term creatine use in high doses may lead to kidney impairment, more research needs to be done to determine if this is indeed the case.
One study conducted in 2010 found that there was no significant increase in markers of kidney damage (including creatinine levels and proteinuria) in a group of male athletes who took creatine for 8 weeks. Although more studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of creatine supplementation on kidney health, recent studies have indicated that short-term use of creatine may not be detrimental for individuals with a single kidney and mild decreased GFR.
Potential Benefits Of Taking Creatine Monohydrate And Kidney Health
While there has been some concern about the potential negative effects of creatine on kidney health, recent research suggests that creatine may actually have maximum benefits for the kidneys. Here are some potential benefits of taking creatine and their effects on kidney health:
Lower Blood Pressure
Taking creatine can help reduce blood pressure in athletes and people with high blood pressure, which can help protect against kidney damage. It can also help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, another major risk factor for kidney disease.
May Lower Creatinine
Creatinine is a waste product that builds up in the body and can be toxic to the kidneys if left unchecked. Studies have found that creatine supplementation may lower creatinine levels, which could help protect against kidney damage.
Improved Glucose Tolerance
Creatine has been found to improve glucose tolerance in those with diabetes, meaning it may help protect the kidneys from damage caused by long-term exposure to high levels of glucose in the blood. This could be especially beneficial for those with diabetes, a major risk for kidney disease.
Lessen Inflammation Associated With Diabetic Nephropathy
Creatine monohydrate supplementation may help reduce markers of inflammation associated with diabetic nephropathy, a type of kidney damage caused by diabetes. This is due to the fact that creatine can decrease oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation, both of which are linked to diabetic nephropathy and can cause further damage to the kidneys.
Decrease The Amount Of Proteinuria
Creatine may also help to decrease the amount of proteinuria or protein in the urine, which is often seen in those with kidney disease. This could be beneficial for those with chronic kidney disease who are at risk of further damage to their kidneys.
Reduce The Risk Of Developing Kidney Stones
Supplementing with creatine has been found to reduce the amount of oxalate present in urine, which can have a significant impact on kidney stone formation. Oxalate is found in many foods and is linked to increasing kidney stones. Studies have shown that taking creatine can decrease urinary oxalate levels, which could help prevent kidney stones.
Improved Athletic Performance
Creatine has been found to have positive effects on athletic performance, especially for those who are looking to gain muscle mass. This can help improve overall health and reduce the chance of developing chronic kidney disease and other health problems associated with physical inactivity.
Increased Muscle Mass
Creatine has also been shown to increase muscle mass, which can help protect against kidney damage. A study on rats found that creatine supplementation prevented kidney injury caused by chronic lead exposure in the animals. This suggests that creatine may be beneficial for those with existing kidney disease and could help protect against further damage.
Improved Kidney Function In Certain Populations
Studies have also found that creatine supplementation may improve kidney function in certain populations, such as those with chronic kidney disease. This could help to slow the progression of the disease and reduce the risk of more serious damage to the kidneys.
Potential Side Effects Of Creatine On Kidneys
While creatine is generally considered safe when taken at recommended doses, there is some concern about potential side effects on kidney health, especially in individuals with pre-existing kidney conditions. Here are some potential side effects of creatine on the kidneys:
Increased Creatinine Levels
Increased levels of creatinine can be a sign of decreased kidney function and, in some cases, an indicator of kidney damage. Creatinine is a waste product that is created when creatine is broken down in the body and is normally excreted through the urine. If creatinine levels rise, it can mean that the kidneys are not functioning properly and may be an indication of kidney damage.
Taking creatine supplements can cause dehydration, which can put extra strain on the kidneys. Dehydration causes electrolyte imbalances in the body, and this can lead to an increase in creatinine levels, as well as other potential health risks. It is important to stay well hydrated in order to reduce the risk of dehydration.
Excessive Protein Intake
Oral creatine supplements may lead to increased protein intake, which can be hard on the kidneys and put extra strain on them. Make sure that you are consuming enough protein in your diet without overdoing it, as too much protein can be damaging to the kidneys.