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Published on November 17, 2020

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Should I Use Creatine?

Creatine is one of the most popular strength-enhancing supplements used among athletes. Perhaps it might be a valuable addition to your health goals.

Although it is safe and beneficial in adult athletes, experts agree not enough is known about long-term health effects to conclude it is safe for all developing adolescents. The American College of Sports Medicine advises anyone under the age of 18 should not take creatine due to research, and lack of information on side effects.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is an amino acid that is found in the muscles and brain. It is naturally produced by the liver, pancreas and kidneys. We also get some from seafood and meats. Creatine is stored in the body as phosphocreatine and is used for energy. This energy system is used for quick explosive movements (sprints, jumps, lifting weights).

Creatine supplementation may benefit high-intensity athletic performance by increasing phosphocreatine stores in muscles and prolong quick, explosive movements. Creatine may also increase lean body mass and strength when combined with resistance training.

Is Creatine Safe for Teenagers?

There are possible negative side effects of creatine for teenagers: dehydration, cramps, stomach problems and discomfort, muscle strains and tears, nausea, seizures, or kidney and liver problems. Teenagers are often very misinformed when it comes to supplements with most of their information coming from social media, friends and peers.

The best source of helping teenagers build muscle and their performance is getting high-quality natural sources from real food versus supplements. A high school athlete’s money and efforts are better spent focusing on training hard, working hard with strength coaches, hydrating and fueling well.

It’s worth talking to a local athletic trainer about your workout plan and goals to ensure you’re on the right path.

Who Should Take Creatine?

Individuals who have seen the benefit of taking creatine are involved in sports that need quick bursts of energy such as sprinting, football or weights. When purchasing creatine make sure it’s a high-quality product in the creatine monohydrate form and has been tested by a third party to make sure it’s safe.

If you do decide to start taking creatine, make sure you are working with a trained medical provider who knows the correct dosage. As always make sure to prioritize whole foods and talk with your sports dietitian before starting any supplements.

Anna Heronimus, RD, LN, is an Avera Sports Dietitian with the Avera Human Performance Center

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