If you take it from nutritionists, it will be a big NO for teens to have creatine to improve their performance. You might find opinions that support taking creatine under the age of 18. A 2016 survey showed about 17 percent of 12th-grade males reported using creatine.
So should teens under 18 use creatine? What would be the picture of creatine under 18 side effects?
It is not recommended for people under 18 as creatine has several adverse side effects. However, studies have shown performance betterment under 18 within athletes only. But they should take it only after consulting their doctors. But a proper diet is always encouraged instead of creatine.
Creatine under the age of 18 goes both ways, good and bad. Throughout my article, I will explain these sides and the important factors you must keep in mind.
Creatine Under 18 Side Effects
Creatine is generally safe, but potential risks are associated with its use for those under 18s. These risks could include dehydration, kidney damage, unwanted weight gain, unknown long-term effects, etc.
Creatine cause dehydration due to muscle buildup. It’s actually water retention from the body to muscle. Also, training in hot weather can trigger dehydration. If creatine doesn’t dehydrate young athletes, there can be a risk of gaining too much weight. However, there’s no solid evidence that creatine cause dehydration.
Don’t worry; creatine doesn’t make fat in the body. The weight these underaged athletes can gain is due to muscle build-up and water in the muscle. The more they exercise and train, the more lean muscle will occur.
However, they might gain 2 to 5 pounds in the first few weeks. There are limited reports of kidney damage due to creatine use.
However, people with a history of kidney disease may be at an increased risk of renal dysfunction. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting creatine supplementation to determine if it is safe.
Creatine can have unknown long-term effects on young athletes. There are several studies on creatine in adults. But there is limited research on its long-term effects on young people. It means the potential risks are still unclear for those using creatine.
Many sports don’t even allow to use of any kind of performance-enhancing supplements. In young athletes, this problem can occur if creatine is not taken with proper recommendation. Thus, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests teenagers should not take creatine.
The potential benefits of creatine use for those under 18s
The potential benefits of creatine supplementation for teenage athletes include improved muscle strength, power, and endurance. Athletes under 18 have possibly shown improved performance in sports and sporting events due to creatine supplementation.
However, creatine might not work or benefit athletes younger than 15.
- Studies have shown that creatine supplementation can improve timed performance and dynamic strength in swimming, sprinting, dribbling, and shooting in footballers. So, the improvements may not be as significant as those observed in adult athletes.
Therefore, it is important to consider individual factors and consult a healthcare professional before starting creatine supplementation.
- Creatine also helps underaged athletes with reduced muscle damage and inflammation due to intense exercise. As a result, athletes recover quicker between workouts or games. Also, creatine increases muscle endurance and helps athletes do more.
- Creatine also helps the brain function properly in young athletes by maintaining a sustainable energy level called ATP. It improves brain health by ensuring the brain has enough nutrients to reduce dysfunction and loss of neurons.
- Taking creatine on a regular basis can reduce any risk of diabetes among young athletes. It controls your blood sugar levels and saves you from type 2 diabetes.
Guidelines for creatine use in Under 18s
Creatine offers several benefits for young athletes. Yet it is important to use it safely and responsibly. Follow these guidelines for how to start creatine if you are under 18s.
- Consult a healthcare professional: The International Society of Sports Nutrition states that creatine monohydrate use causes no evident harmful effects in healthy individuals. However, it is still important to consult a healthcare provider before taking creatine or other supplements.
- Follow dosage instructions: Studies have demonstrated that creatine supplementation can enhance athletic performance. But the question remains whether excessive creatine intake is a good idea. Taking too much creatine can lead to potential health risks.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is important when using creatine. Your muscles retain water, leading to dehydration if insufficient fluids are consumed.
- Cycle on and off: Taking a break between taking Creatine is a great idea and recommended. It can help prevent potential health risks associated with long-term creatine use. Cycling is not necessary, but it’ll normalize the level of creatine in the body.
- Follow anti-doping rules: Creatine is not prohibited. But due to its performance-enhancing properties, it is banned by some sports organizations. For example, the sale of creatine is banned in France by the French Rugby Union. So it is best to be safe than sorry.
Is There Any Alternative For Teens Instead of Creatine?
There are a few alternatives for teen athletes instead of creatine which can also be greatly beneficial if maintained properly. However, you might not find them as good as creatine in improving muscle performance. Yet, let’s check these alternatives out.
As a young athlete, you must try to find natural creatine within your regular diet. Red meat, pork, chicken, tuna, and salmon are great natural sources of creatine.
|Food Source||Creatine (Amount/100g of food)|
|Herring Fillet (raw and dried)||1.1g|
|Beef patties (raw)||0.9g|
|Beef steak gravy (juice cooked from meat)||0.9g|
|Black pudding (blood sausage)||0.6g|
|Dry cured ham||0.6g|
|Lamb, top round||0.5g|
|Beef cattle heart||0.3g|
|Beef cattle cheek||0.3g|
|Nestle Good Start||0.002g|
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)
Creatine helps to increase your power output during high-intensity training, which increases during your strength and training. On the other hand, BCAAs help build and rebuild lean muscle mass. There are slight differences, but the benefits are nearly the same. You can use BCAA as your supplement.
Whey protein stimulates increased muscle protein synthesis, whereas Creatine does so by increasing exercise capacity. Bottomline, you can use whey protein instead of creatine as an alternative.
Caffeine works immediately by increasing body temperature and helps to burn fat. Creatine takes time and doesn’t affect fat loss. The effects of caffeine are more dramatic than the effects of creatine.
Is it illegal for a 15-year-old to take creatine?
Nearly three-quarters of respondents also said that male minors could legally purchase creatine, which is true. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine advise that only those over 18 should consume it.
The teens in my neighborhood suddenly looked like they were pumped with tire blowers. Upon asking, I found they started using creatine. It’s not that they were trying to be an athletic person. It was all about looking ripped and showing off.
Several months later, one of them faced a horrible side effect, a heart attack. It was due to underaged creatine intake and lack of exercise.
Having creatine is not bad if you are willing to train your body to the fullest. If you are a teen under 18 and not into any athletic sport, it might not be safe for you to take creatine.
Visit our blogs to learn more about creatine and other supplements.
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.