Creatine and creatinine sound similar, but chemically and functionally, they differ from each other. If one is the energy source, another is the by-product of that process.
So, in what ways do creatine vs creatinine vary?
Creatine is an amino acid derivative found primarily in skeletal muscle and the brain that generates ATP in cells to provide energy and prevent muscle loss. Creatinine, in contrast, is a breakdown product of creatine phosphate through a nonenzymatic and irreversible process.
But there is more to creatine and creatinine to understand whether the supplement is for you. Read on to learn more.
Creatine vs Creatinine: At A Glance
|It is produced from protein metabolism.||It is produced from creatine metabolism.|
|Simple and linear.||Complex and heterocyclic.|
|A useful compound for energy.||A waste product is removed by excretion through urine.|
|Found in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas to transfer to the muscles.||Transferred to the kidneys from the muscles as a byproduct.|
|Helps in exercises and building muscles.||Helps to treat kidney or renal diseases.|
|It is water soluble.||It has a lower solubility.|
Creatine vs Creatinine: In Details
Creatine and creatinine are chemicals in the body that work differently. While creatine is an amino acid, creatinine is the waste product released from creatine breakdown.
It converts into creatine phosphate and phosphocreatine to be stored in the muscles. The muscle cells later use this to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by converting adenosine diphosphate (ADP). ATP is the compound that will help you to perform heavy exercise and different sports.
You can also take creatine supplements with oats and other beverages to remove a deficiency, namely creatine monohydrate.
Creatine mainly provides energy used regularly by the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. So, it gets easily circulated in the bloodstream to meet your energy demands.
Structure and Formula
This is essentially an acetic acid formula (C4H9N3O2) with a linear molecular structure. It has more hydrogen atoms than creatinine.
We use creatine to work efficiently and remain fit. Creatine is produced naturally by the liver, pancreas, and kidneys and sent to skeletal muscles.
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When creatine breaks down, creatinine is released as a waste product from protein metabolism. The amount differs according to that of creatine and the dose you take as a supplement.
In addition, creatinine levels depend on body mass, diet, and body mass index. If you take too much red meat or fish, it can fluctuate creatinine concentration. Check how much creatine you can get from a 100-gram steak.
The only function of a waste product like creatinine is to determine the health condition of any organ, particularly the kidneys or even your liver. Usually, kidneys filter and release creatinine within the urine so that you can determine your kidneys’ condition from the blood concentration.
Structure and Formula
Creatinine is an amino-methyl compound (C4H7N3O) with a complex heterocyclic structure. It has two fewer hydrogen atoms than creatine.
This is a byproduct released from the breakdown of creatine in the muscles. So this is found in different body muscles, precisely from creatine phosphate. High levels might cause kidney failure, swelling, nausea, breathing problems, fatigue, and even dehydration.
Creatine Kinase vs Creatinine Blood Test
The Creatine kinase test diagnoses chronic or acute skeletal muscle, heart, or brain damage or degeneration. Creatinine blood tests diagnose kidney problems, especially diabetic nephropathy or diabetic kidney disease.
Creatine kinase (CK) is an enzyme that works as a catalyst during the rapid resynthesizing of ADP to ATP. There are three types of CK enzymes found in the three different parts of the body:
- CK-MM (skeletal muscles)
- CK-MB (heart muscle)
- CK-BB (brain tissue)
A higher than usual CK-MM enzyme indicates muscle injury or disease, such as muscular dystrophy or rhabdomyolysis. Doctors can diagnose a recent heart attack or inflammation of the heart muscle by looking at the CK-MB level. A higher CK-BB level means a stroke or brain injury.
On the other hand, a creatinine test determines kidney problems or chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or even cancer. It also shows how well a regular and transplanted kidney works by calculating the glomerular filtration rate (GFR).
You will undergo a simple blood test to deposit blood serum and determine creatinine levels. Higher levels would suggest possible damage to the kidneys. But a creatinine clearance would mean your kidneys are functioning great.
Serum Creatinine vs Creatinine
Serum creatinine tests measure the creatinine in your bloodstream, whereas creatinine (also called “creatinine clearance”) is measured in your urine.
A blood test for serum creatinine will show creatinine levels in the serum. This shows how well your renal functions are and indicates any problem with other vital organs. You will also understand how creatinine is generated in the body regularly.
Creatinine tests from urine will show the levels in urine to detect kidney problems. Urine is more concentrated with creatinine than serum.
Can Creatine raise Creatinine Levels?
Creatine supplements are said to affect the kidneys in particular. Even high creatine levels in the body would mean more creatinine in the blood, which would deteriorate the kidneys.
However, there is hardly any proof that creatine as a supplement would damage the kidneys, especially in someone healthy. Almost all creatine is absorbed by the body, namely by the liver, before reaching your kidneys.
Supplementing with creatine ethyl ester can misleadingly raise serum creatinine. The result may or may not be associated with kidney malfunction. Creatine ethyl ester isn’t absorbed well and can easily break down to release creatinine. Besides, this doesn’t help you with gaining energy to exercise. So, choose creatine that is free from ethyl ester.
A high protein diet and creatine intake can also increase creatinine levels in blood serum, but this is hardly a risk for your renal functions.
The best supplement to avoid any kidney issue is undoubtedly creatine monohydrate. It can increase creatinine only in minimal amounts.
Non-creatine Factors that Increase Creatinine
Other than creatine, what else troubles your body with high creatinine levels?
Only if you have a higher body mass will you have more creatinine from the creatine stores in the body. But there are some other factors or habits that can also increase creatinine.
- A protein-rich diet with food sources from animals like red meat or fish, especially beef.
- Different powerful medicines like aspirin, corticosteroids, or even those used for HIV and cancer.
- Extreme exercise or vigorous sports.
Is Creatine Safe?
Creatine is one of the safest supplements that you can take for increasing energy and muscles.
Your body produces enough creatine, especially if you eat protein-rich meals. But for additional creatine to build muscles, you will need to take supplements. While the FDA doesn’t regulate creatine supplements, and there is no standardization of safety and purity, creatine still doesn’t cause any health issues.
Consult a nutritionist or healthcare professional to find the right dosage for your body mass. There are no age restrictions, but start after you are 18. In addition, check for any medical conditions before taking a supplement. Otherwise, your condition will worsen, especially kidney diseases.
People with medicine prescriptions should also cross-check to see if supplements would interact. It might be difficult to determine whether creatine affects vital organs like the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, or reproductive organs from the combination of drugs, creatine supplements, or energy drinks.
Relation between Creatine Supplement and Renal Function
If you take the recommended dose of creatine supplement, it will hardly negatively affect your renal functions.
Creatine doesn’t cause any problems to anyone healthy with no existing conditions. In fact, creatine is very safe, beneficial, and efficient. Besides, it doesn’t cause cramping or dehydration.
You must undergo a creatine kinase (CK) test if you suffer any of these symptoms. When it increases, you may have problems in organs with creatine kinase. So, renal functions will remain normal.
Benefits and Side Effects of Creatine
Undoubtedly, creatine is a beneficial supplement to improve health and provide energy to increase muscles.
- Better performance in heavy exercise and sports.
- Faster recovery from intense exercise.
- Reduce the risk of serious injuries from heavy training.
- Helps trainers in heavy lifting.
- Allows to increase muscles without any fat.
- Vegetarians and vegans will have more creatine for building muscles.
- Fewer cases of dehydration, cramps, tiredness, muscle tightness, strains, or any injury from a supplement.
- There might be an improvement in certain diseases like Parkinson’s or Huntington’s, diabetes, metabolism problems, osteoarthritis, heart or brain disorders, etc., from creatine.
But creatine isn’t free from side effects either, even if low.
- Weight gain from water retention in muscles.
- It takes a long time, around a month, to see any visible effect, depending on the body’s functions.
- Causes severe problems for patients suffering from dehydration or obesity.
- Minor symptoms may include nausea, digestive problems, or even fatigue.
When is creatine not recommended for taking as a supplement?
Creatine in lower doses is fine and effective with minimum side effects. However, when you increase the dosage, it can cause serious kidney damage with high creatinine levels. This is a concern for many athletes and others with minor kidney issues.
What level of creatinine is considered normal?
While creatinine levels have a specific range that is said to be normal, it mainly varies from person to person. You will know the right level depending on your body mass, age, gender, and race.
Is a creatinine blood test enough to check for kidney diseases?
A blood test will tell a lot, but not the only test to confirm a disease. There might be other reasons to have a kidney problem. So, doctors suggest a urine test or other relevant ones for diagnosis.
Creatine and creatinine are vastly different from each other but related to the same body function. One comes from the other, where creatine is a useful compound for gaining energy, and creatinine is a waste product from the metabolism. They are also different in structure and found in different body parts.
The one place where they are together is when you are skeptical of a possible kidney disorder. High creatine levels would mean increased creatinine in blood and urine. This would indicate damage to the kidneys and might lead to kidney failure.
So, you should get the recommended supplement dosage and immediately consult a doctor whenever you find any symptoms.
I started my professional career as a sports medicine consultant in Rola, Missouri. My primary role was to suggest suitable supplements for my patients according to their pre-existing conditions and lifestyle goals. I believe a healthy lifestyle is the most important if you want to make your life really meaningfull.