Creatine is not only one of the most popular dietary supplements from a performance standpoint, but there is also strong evidence to support its use in clinical settings for a variety of patient populations. Widely known for its ergogenic character and relationship with improved sports performance, it is now discussed in another scenario, as consistent evidence indicates the therapeutic benefits related to creatine supplementation for a multitude of clinical applications in adults and children. After all, is creatine the right age to be supplemented?
From Pediatrics to Geriatrics
Creatine is a natural substance consumed in the diet and synthesized in the body, being widely used as an ergogenic aid for strength and performance gains. In the paediatric population, there is strong evidence that creatine provides several therapeutic benefits, such as in the aid in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders and metabolic imbalances. For adolescents, between 13 and 19 years of age, the use of creatine to performance because its effects are similar to those observed in adults.
With the elderly population, creatine (mainly when combined with resistance training) increases muscle strength and functionality, as well as increased bone area and strength as it attenuates the rate of bone mineral loss and directly influences bone remodeling, being a effective intervention to treat frailty (characterized by muscle weakness) and cachexia (characterized by rapid loss of muscle mass).
Although the ergogenic benefits of creatine supplementation have been previously well established in active populations aged 18 to 35 years, data for adolescents or older populations are scarce. There have been some studies directly comparing the biological response to creatine supplementation in various age groups. There seems to be significant variability in creatine responsiveness in elderly adults, which can possibly be explained by factors such as initial intramuscular creatine concentration, type II muscle fiber content, and dietary creatine intake.
Safety in Pediatrics
Short- or long-term creatine supplementation (up to 30g/day for 5 years) does not lead to any harmful effect to healthy individuals. So the fastest method of increasing muscle creatine stocks can be consuming 0.3 g/kg/day for 5–7 days. Then 3–5 g/day thereafter to keep stocks high. However, if the intake is lower (e.g., 3–5 g/day), it will increase muscle creatine stocks over a 3–4 week period.
The nutritionist can use three protocols for creatine prescription, all of which aim at the loading effect. How is this done? 20g creatine in the first 5-7 days, 3g creatine for 20 days or 3-5g creatine for 21 days.
Creatine Supplementation: Before or After Training?
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Creatine for Muscle and Brain platform
Article Age for creatine: Antonio J, Candow DG, Forbes SC, Gualano B, Jagim AR, Kreider RB, Rawson ES, Smith-Ryan AE, VanDusseldorp TA, Willoughby DS, Ziegenfuss TN. Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show? J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2021 Feb 8;18(1):13. Doi: 10.1186/s12970-021-00412-w. PMID: 33557850; PMCID: PMC7871530.