One of the most studied nutritional strategies in the last 40 years has been monohydrate creatine supplementation. It has not only shown to promote positive effects on exercise performance and training adaptations, but also a number of potential therapeutic benefits, including in children and adolescents.
However, most adolescents who report using creatine seem to get their information from friends, coaches and parents. In addition, marketing done on social networks and by food supplement companies has changed the way teens perceive and obtain information around dietary supplements. Therefore, the importance of talking about the scientific evidence around this subject.
What is creatine?
It is a metabolite naturally produced in the body through amino acids and stored in skeletal muscle tissue (about 95% of total reserves) in the form of phosphocreatine, which acts as an energy source. It is also possible to consume by diet, through red meat, shellfish and food supplements.
That is why there is strong evidence of ergogenic benefits related to high intensity exercise performance, increased strength and muscle hypertrophy. Creatine is not only one of the most popular dietary supplements from a performance point of view, but there is also strong evidence to support its use in clinical contexts, such as in cases of myopathies, muscular dystrophy, muscle wear conditions, cancer cachexia, clinical depression, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries, inactive errors of metabolism, and periods of rest or bed immobilization.
Use of creatine in adolescence
Creatine use among children and adolescents remains controversial. Although the physiological logic related to a benefit in adolescents is similar to that observed in adults, the lack of randomized controlled trials and clinical data that support the safety of creatine supplementation protocols in this population generates hesitation by some professionals.
Although some concerns have been raised about adolescents using creatine as a dietary supplement, the International Society for Sports Nutrition concludes that there is no scientific evidence that children and/or adolescents should not take this supplementation. Indeed previous long-term studies found no side effects on markers of liver, kidney, or muscle lesions in young adults. On the contrary, there is strong evidence of creatine use among adolescents, particularly among male athletes competing at the elite level.
Thus, it is important that adolescents, coaches and parents are aware of the recommendations based on the safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation when considering its use. But regardless of the population, training intervention, or supplementation protocol, creatine supplementation has been reported to increase strength and energy performance in short-term efforts. For this reason, the use of creatine is safe in adolescents
Study suggestion: Creatine: Is There Age for Supplementation? – Science Play
Watch the video on Science Play with Felipe Ribeiro: Creatine supplementation protocols and muscle hypertrophy
Jagim AR, Kerksick CM. Creatine Supplementation in Children and Adolescents
. 2021; 13(2):664.