Can Creatine Cause Liver Damage? Tips And Guidelines
Athletes and bodybuilders use creatine supplements made of amino acids to increase their strength and muscle mass. While it has been shown to be effective in improving athletic performance, there have been concerns about the potential for creatine to cause liver damage.
Let's look at the evidence that creatine supplements are safe and give some tips on how to reduce the risk of side effects. Review some rules you should follow when taking creatine supplements to make sure they are safe to use. Follow the recommendations discussed below to reduce the risk of any potential side effects.
Research Studies On Creatine And Liver Health
Several research papers have been done to find out if creatine supplements are safe and if they could cause liver damage. The majority of these studies concluded that creatine does not adversely affect liver health. However, there are some reports in which people taking high doses of creatine experienced acute fulminant liver failure, a sign of possible liver damage.
Here is some information on research studies conducted on creatine and liver health:
Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition In 2009
In 2009, a study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that healthy young adults who took creatine supplements for a short time did not have any bad effects on how their liver or kidneys worked. The study involved 20 participants who were given creatine for seven days, and their liver and kidney function was monitored before and after the supplementation.
This result indicates that creatine is safe for healthy individuals when taken in recommended doses and should not cause any negative effects on liver and kidney health.
Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research In 2016
A further study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2016 found that creatine is effective in preventing fatty liver when consumed as part of a high-fat and choline-deficient diet. Experiments with cell cultures also showed that the levels of lipids, triglycerides, and free fatty acids in the liver went down when creatine was given as a supplement.
Journal Of Medical Case Reports In 2011
But there have been some case reports and anecdotal evidence that taking creatine supplements can hurt the liver. In 2011, the Journal of Medical Case Reports shared the story of a 21-year-old man who took creatine supplements for four weeks and then got liver damage. The patient had jaundice and high liver enzymes, and a liver biopsy showed that the liver was damaged. The liver function returned to normal after discontinuing creatine supplements.
Journal Digestive Diseases And Sciences In 2009
In the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences in 2009, it was found that high doses of creatine supplementation (20 grams per day) for six weeks caused liver damage in rats. The study suggested that long-term, high-dose creatine supplementation may have negative effects on liver health. This result suggests that while creatine supplements may be safe in recommended doses, high doses should be avoided.
Factors That May Increase The Risk Of Liver Damage From Creatine
Here are some factors that may increase the risk of liver damage from creatine supplementation:
Taking higher than recommended doses of creatine can increase the risk of liver damage. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on dosage and do not exceed the recommended amount. It is also important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking any new supplement.
Over-the-Counter Herbal Supplements
Some herbal supplements you can buy without a prescription may have a lot of creatine in them, which can make liver damage more likely. It is important to check the ingredient list and only take supplements that are approved by a credible third party, such as the US Pharmacopeia or NSF International.
People with existing liver disease should exercise caution when taking creatine supplements, as they may be more likely to experience adverse effects from the supplement. Consult a healthcare provider or nutritionist before taking any new supplement if you have any underlying health conditions.
Best Time To Use
Creatine supplements should only be used for a short time, because the risks may rise with longer use. It is best to take creatine for shorter durations, such as four to eight weeks, and then give your body a break before starting again.
Long-term use of creatine supplements may increase the risk of liver damage, especially if high doses are taken. A study published in 2009 in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences found that giving rats high doses of creatine (20 grams per day) for six weeks hurt their livers.
Symptoms And Signs Of Liver Damage From Creatine
Creatine-related liver damage exhibits similar symptoms and signs to other types of liver disease, such as:
Tiredness and a lack of energy are common signs of liver damage, which can be caused by the liver's decreased ability to filter out toxins and make energy. When the liver isn't working right, it can't get rid of toxins from the body as well, which makes you tired. When the liver isn't able to make as much energy as it should, it can also make you feel tired.
A sign of yellowish skin and eyes caused by excess levels of bilirubin, a bile pigment, in the blood. Bilirubin is developed by the breakdown of red blood cells and is normally processed and eliminated from the body by the liver. When the liver is damaged, it can't process and remove bilirubin as efficiently, leading to an excess of pigment in the blood and causing jaundice.
Nausea And Vomiting
A buildup of toxins or bile acids in the blood can cause nausea and vomiting, which are frequent signs of liver damage. If these toxins and bile acids are not eliminated from the body, they can cause nausea and vomiting.
Swelling Of The Abdomen
When the liver is damaged, fluid builds up in the organ because it can't filter out toxins as well as it should. This causes the abdomen to get bigger. This can cause the abdomen to swell, as well as discomfort and pain in the area.
Dark Urine And Pale Stools
A buildup of toxins in the body can cause liver damage, which manifests as dark urine and pale stools. An overabundance of bilirubin results in the dark color of the urine, whereas a deficiency of bile in the intestines can result in pale or clay-colored stools.
A common sign of liver damage from creatine supplementation is itchy skin. This is due to the buildup of bile salts that accumulate when the liver is damaged, which can then irritate the skin and cause itching. Bile salts are essential for digesting fat and absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, but when the liver becomes damaged, these salts can accumulate and cause itching.
Easy Bruising And Bleeding
When you take creatine supplements, you can hurt your liver, which can make it harder for your body to make clotting factors. This can result in a higher risk of easy bruising and bleeding. Clotting factors are proteins that help the blood form clots when the body is injured, which helps stop bleeding. When these clotting factors are decreased, the body is more prone to easy bruising and bleeding.
Safe Ways To Consume Creatine To Prevent Liver Damage
To keep creatine from hurting your liver, you should take the supplement in a safe and smart way. Here are some safe ways to consume creatine to prevent liver damage:
Stick To The Recommended Dosage
Follow the directions on the label for how much creatine to take, and don't take more than the recommended amount. Even though there is no clear upper limit for how much creatine is safe to take, most experts say that you shouldn't take more than 20 grams per day for a short time.
Creatine supplementation may cause dehydration, which can stress the liver and increase the risk of liver damage. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water when taking creatine supplements.
Avoid Combining With Other Supplements Or Medications
Combining creatine with a dietary supplement or other medications that can potentially harm the liver, such as anabolic steroids, can enhance the risk of liver damage. It is important to avoid combining creatine with other supplements or medications without first consulting a doctor.
Take A Break
It is also important to take breaks from taking creatine supplements to give the liver a chance to recover and rest. Taking regular breaks from supplementation can help prevent long-term liver damage.
Consider Using Micronized Creatine
The particles of micronized creatine are smaller than those of regular creatine monohydrate, which may make it easier to absorb and reduce the amount needed to get the same effect. This may reduce the risk of liver damage by reducing the amount of creatine that needs to be metabolized by the liver.