Your body creates creatine in your liver, kidneys, and pancreas. The production limit is based on the quality and type of diet you are on. This process occurs in two steps-
- catalyzed by L-arginine: glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT)
- guanidinoacetate N-methyltransferase (GAMT).
It takes place mainly in the kidney and liver, respectively. It is where the fear of creatine occurs that it’s bad for the liver. But is creatine bad for your liver?
A number of human studies have found no connection between creatine and liver problems. However, there are theories regarding potential toxicity from creatine which can increase oxidative stress from carcinogenic compounds.
Throughout my article, I will explain the facts of creatine and your liver health. Let’s get started.
Is Creatine Bad For Your Liver: What Research Said?
Creatine has not shown any effect on the liver during short-term, low-dose usage. A study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found creatine does not affect the livers of elite athletes. That even if they are using creatine for the long term.
Instead, Creatine has shown a decrease in S-adenosyl methionine and homocysteine production in the liver. That diminishes fat accumulation and results in beneficial effects in fatty liver and non-alcoholic liver disease.
There are no studies that found that creatine causes harm to healthy individuals. However, a rare case of DILI showed the effects of ingesting a significant amount of Creatinine caused Acute Liver Failure in a healthy patient.
Similarly, I have found another study that reported kidney disease in a male weightlifter after taking creatine. But one in a hundred or even a thousand incidents can’t be considered proper evidence. Moreover, the athlete was taking several other supplements, not creatine only.
However, if you have a history of liver disease, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional or nutritionist. They can help you decide whether taking creatine is right for you.
Proper Creatine Dosages for Safety
There’s no proper evidence found of any liver damage due to creatine intake. Yet, it is important to maintain a proper and regular dose of creatine. As the saying goes, “Too much of anything is bad.”
Here’re a few methods you can follow to take creatine safely.
During a loading phase, you have to take 5 grams (or 0.3 g/kg/day) 4 times a day for 5 to 7 days. If you want to increase intramuscular creatine concentrations rapidly, then the loading method is perfect.
Trainers usually recommend a creatine loading phase to maximize your muscle performance rapidly. Studies show that this amount can boost muscle stores by 10%–40%.
Another study states that muscles can become fully saturated after taking 3 g of creatine daily for 28 days. However, there’s one study I found that states students who took creatine as a regular dose had improved back squats and bench presses, even without loading creatine.
Maintenance Dose Method
Taking 3gm of creatine daily without increasing the dose becomes a maintenance dose for creatine. You can expect to have the same result. But it might take a while.
The maintenance dose is rather convenient on your budget. You won’t have to take it 4 to 5 times a day. And the amount is also less.
Many people might think that the best way to take it is to maximize the dose.
That would be wrong. Just keep it simple and hold the consistency.
Possible Side Effects from Creatine
Creatine has some extensive effects. But only a few cases can be considered harmful or lethal. For example, creatine can lead to excessive pressure in building arm or leg muscles. However, it might happen due to heat and exercise-induced dehydration.
There are also claims that creatine might lead to muscle breaks down and protein leakages into the bloodstream. However, this is just a myth. There is a marker in your blood called creatine kinase. That might increase along with creatine supplements. Also, experts suggest that creatine might protect you against this condition.
Creatine is rather a natural substance that can be found in your body and daily foods. It has nothing to do with being steroids. So no need to confuse it with anabolic steroids.
Studies show long-term use of creatine is safe for adults. However, it might be a great idea to keep up with small doses for teen athletes under 18s. Taking creatine on a regular basis can reduce any risk of diabetes among young. It helps maintain your blood sugar levels and prevents type 2 diabetes.
Learn the benefits and drawbacks of taking creatine.
Who Should Avoid Creatine?
Creatine taking is based on preference and necessity. But is creatine harmful to you?
There is some restriction on creatine taking based on your health condition. If your organs can get damaged or harmed, you must consult a health specialist or nutritionist before taking creatine; the best is not to take it.
Check out when you should not take creatine.
People with Pre-existing Liver or Kidney Conditions
People with kidney disease, high blood pressure, or liver disease should not take creatine. Studies have shown creatine supplements may raise serum creatinine levels and mimic a kidney disease.
Pregnant or Nursing Women
Creatine can be a safe option for treating pregnancy complications associated with low oxygen levels. However, it’s important to note that creatine supplementation may affect estimations of an infant’s kidney function estimations due to increased serum creatinine levels.
But due to this lack of proper studies, pregnant or nursing women should avoid creatine supplementation.
Children and Adolescents
Creatine has been found to be contaminated with substances, including testosterone, which can impair a child’s ability to grow and develop bone. Again the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine strongly suggest teenagers not use performance-enhancing supplements, including creatine.
People with Allergies or Sensitivities
After taking creatine, allergic reactions can occur. You may experience symptoms such as itching, hives, swelling of the face or tongue, chest tightness, or difficulty breathing. Don’t hesitate to seek immediate medical attention.
Do not take this supplement if you have had an allergic reaction to creatine.
How much creatine can your liver take?
Studies in various people have shown no detrimental health effects of taking creatine supplements in doses of up to 4–20 grams per day for 10 months to 5 years.
Is creatine safe for fatty liver?
Creatine supplementation has been demonstrated to prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver progression. We hypostatized creatine supplementation would prevent ethanol-induced fatty liver and hepatic damage. Creatine exerts different outcomes by protecting against HFD-induced NAFLD but exacerbating ethanol-induced ALD.
Does creatine trigger an allergy?
Allergies to creatine are possible and will cause a rash, itching, and shortness of breath. Gastrointestinal discomfort and bloating from water weight are common side effects of creatine supplementation. You may also experience muscle sprains or cramps that could lead to more serious injuries.
Creatine is not bad for your liver health. No proper evidence has shown that creatine can be lethal for your liver. A few rare cases are found in a thousand cases, but those should not intervene with the true fact.
Take creatine, maintain the dose, and be consistent. You will find a proper outcome indeed.
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I am a health and wellness enthusiast working in a Pittsburgh-based wellness clinic. My primary role as a consultant is to tailor a balanced lifestyle for my patients, where positive steps and potent supplements play a synergistic role.