Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that serves as an energy source for muscles and other organs. It is supplied in the body through diet, mainly protein-rich foods, and is also produced by the liver. Creatine supplements are also popular among young, healthy people who want to get a boost in their athletic performance. These supplements are available in different forms such as powders, tablets, drinks and liquids.
In most cases, the body regulates the amount of creatine so that it does not go beyond what the body needs. High creatine levels are more common among users of creatine supplements. As such, consumers should be aware of the recommended intake of creatine. Taking more than what the body can handle may cause some problems or adverse effects. Before you start taking creatine supplements, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider or nutritionist about the safe dose for you.
Here are some important things you need to know about creatine levels.
What is Normal?
Creatine levels in the blood can be checked indirectly through blood tests such as creatinine and creatine kinase levels. The normal creatinine level ranges from 0.6 to 1.2 mg/dl, although this varies depending on the diagnostic equipment used, your gender, and your age. Usually, men have higher creatinine levels because of the increased muscle mass. Meanwhile, the normal range for creatinine kinase is 22 to 198 units per liter. However, these diagnostic procedures do not exactly determine the amount of creatine in the body. High or low levels may mean other health conditions and not necessarily problems with creatine levels.
For people who want to use creatine supplement, they may need to practice ‘creatine loading’. This means that they have to take a certain amount of oral creatine dose for a specific period of time. For instance, the usual loading dose requires 20 g of creatine every day for at least two to five days. However, the length of time and daily dose for ‘loading’ may vary depending on the user. After the loading dose, a lower maintenance dose may be taken daily. This is because skeletal muscle tissues have a saturation point – a point at which they cannot store more creatine. Usually, the saturation point is reached within few days after loading. The daily maintenance dose just replenishes the amount lost during workout or high-intensity activity.
What are High Levels?
As mentioned above, the body only needs a certain amount of creatine, anything more than that can lead to side effects. Taking too much creatine supplements can cause problems such as muscle damage, gastrointestinal symptoms, dehydration and weight gain. In some people, high levels of creatine cause symptoms that range from headaches to dangerous medical conditions, such as fluid and electrolyte imbalances. It can also aggravate existing medical conditions.
However, high levels of creatine in the body may not only be due to overconsumption of supplements. It can also signal other medical conditions such as serious muscle damage or muscular dystrophy. In any case, seeking medical attention is highly recommended.