Is creatine safe for teens? - Creatine is safe for youth athletes who compete in sports. Take 3-5 grams daily after a suitable loading period and go with creatine monohydrate as it’s the most widely studied form. Consult your doctor first if you have any underlying health issues.
Is Creatine Safe for Teens?
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is synthesized in your body, more specifically your liver and kidneys. It’s also found in certain foods such as red meat, eggs, milk, and seafood.
Whilst your body can produce around 1-2 grams a day, it isn't enough to fully saturate your muscle stores so there is some room for supplementation. Once ingested, the creatine is stored as creatine and phosphocreatine in your skeletal muscle. This is then used to power the ATP-PCr system, the body's main energy source during high-intensity, supra-maximal exercise.
Since the 1990s, creatine has been one of the most widely researched ergogenic aids in the world, with the vast majority of studies showing beneficial effects on markers of performance with no adverse reactions. Side effects such as liver and kidney issues, cramping, dehydration, and stomach pain are seldom reported in the literature even with long-term usage. The only side effect consistently reported throughout the literature is weight gain as a result of the increased muscle water retention - however this is actually a good thing, not bad.
As with any supplement, the correct dosing protocol should be used to ensure safe consumption within the tested limits. Longer-term studies giving participants creatine at 0.3g/kg/day - 0.8g/kg/day have consistently shown the multiple health benefits of creatine alongside an excellent safety profile.
But, is creatine bad for teens? Whilst the majority of studies have been performed on adults, enough safety evidence exists to warrant the use of creatine for teens who perform regular high-intensity sports or exercise. Some even suggest that not supplementing creating might increase the risk of injuries in athletes. With this, can teenagers take creatine? Creatine is safe for teenagers to take and should be considered as a supplement under the following conditions:
- You already eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s optimized to improve sports performance. You have all the nutrition basics covered and want to supplement creatine to add slight improvements to your performance, not as a way to replace the fundamentals.
- You play competitive sports and/ or perform high-intensity exercise regularly under the supervision of experienced professionals and coaches.
What Are the Benefits of Taking Creatine for Teens?
Alongside caffeine, creatine is one of the most studied and well-proven ergogenic aids in the world. Here are just some of the benefits of supplementation as a teenager:
1. Improved Energy Production and Muscular Strength
2. Better Recovery
When you perform high-intensity exercise, you create micro-tears in your muscle fibers that then heal as you recover. This recovery process allows the muscle to build back stronger as it better adapts for the next exercise bout.
Creatine supplementation may reduce the post-exercise inflammation response, therefore reducing the amount of recovery needed before the next exercise bout. Research into this potential beneficial effect of creatine is still developing.
As a teenager, it's not uncommon to perform multiple activities and sports within a day. This means that taking creatine for better recovery may be warranted.
3. Improved Body Composition
Creatine is the most effective legal supplement in the world for adding muscle mass. Studies have shown increases in lean body mass and muscle size after as little as 5-7 days of supplementation.
Whilst the initial rise in body weight is mainly due to increases in muscle water content, longer-term effects include improvements in key biological pathways related to muscle growth.
4. Better Cognitive Function
Creatine supplementation may have some benefits for brain health and function, but more research is needed to be sure. If you're considering taking creatine, remember that it's primarily known for improving muscle mass and strength, but the overall positives probably outweigh any potential downsides even if the “brain thing” will turn out to be untrue 🙂.
Whilst the positive effects on cognition shown in research may be more pronounced in older individuals, teenagers who have a heavy study schedule, suffer from sleep deprivation, and experience bouts of anxiety may benefit from creatine supplementation.
How to Minimize Potential Risks When Using Creatine?
Now that you know the benefits of creatine supplementation, let’s discuss the possible risks that can be involved.
Whilst the safety profile of creatine is well-proven throughout thousands of studies, there are some situations where you may need to take it with caution or avoid supplementation altogether. Here’s how to minimize the potential risks:
1. Consult a Doctor First
Before deciding to take a new supplement or make a drastic lifestyle change, it’s always best to consult a doctor first.
Whilst most short and long-term studies confirm that creatine has no detrimental effects on kidney and liver function, this might not be the case for people with underlying issues. With a lack of research concerning the effects of creatine supplementation in teens with liver and kidney problems, it’s best to exercise caution before starting one.
Consult your doctor before going through the relevant pros and cons of supplementation. Decide if it’s worth it for your individual situation and get signed off by the doctor first.
2. Choose Creatine Certified by a Recognized Third-Party
When a supplement has been certified by a recognized third party, it means it’s been professionally tested for purity. This ensures no heavy metals and prohibited substances are present that may cause harm to your health or prohibit you from competition when considering creatine for teenage athletes.
If the creatine has been third-party tested, the company's certification will be clearly shown on the label. Look for high-quality organizations such as Informed Sport, Informed Choice, and NSF-certified for sport.
3. Don’t Exceed the Recommended Dosage
When considering the dosing protocol, it’s always best to stick to the recommended creatine dosage that’s been well-tested throughout the literature. Studies use similar dosing protocols for good reason. They allow you to fully saturate your creatine stores whilst being well-tested for any possible adverse side effects.
As a teen athlete, you have two dosing options:
- Start with a loading phase (2x10, 4x5 gram doses) split evenly throughout the day for 5-7 days. Follow up with a daily maintenance dose of 3-5 grams or 0.3 - 0.8g/kg/day.
- Our recommendation - Start with the maintenance dose of 3-5 grams (0.3-0.8g/kg/day) and continue daily.
Both protocols fully saturate your muscle's creatine stores, with the loading protocol doing it in a quicker period. Choose the correct protocol for your individual situation and dose accordingly.
4. Choose the Correct Creatine Form
Multiple creatine forms exist, with manufacturers making claims such as better bioavailability and more cost-effectiveness. Creatine monohydrate is the most effective and safest form of creatine. It’s also the most heavily used form throughout the majority of scientific research.
For these reasons, we suggest going with creatine monohydrate as a proven form of creatine.
Why Do Manufacturers Warn That Teens Should Not Consume Creatine?
In short, they are practicing extreme caution. Creatine isn't on the banned substance list and it is naturally produced in the body. No legal restrictions exist for selling creatine and it can be widely purchased from most health stores.
Despite this, many manufacturers use labeling that warns against the use of creatine in people under 18. Whilst there are always small risks involved in taking a supplement at any age, manufacturers mainly do this to protect themselves against legal liability and not as a result of the creatine composition.
Conversely, the use of creatine as a young athlete heavily involved in competitive sports and exercise may reduce the risk of injury when taken under the correct supervision.
Our Recommended Creatine - Promix Micronized Monohydrate
The Promix Nutrition Micronized Monohydrate is a high-quality non-GMO creatine powder that supports increases in muscle size, strength, and power.
Promix operates with excellent integrity, independently testing each ingredient for heavy metals and impurities. Alongside this, it’s free of soy, gluten, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, stevia, and gums.
photo by @Promix
As a super clean creatine powder, it's the perfect choice for youth athletes who want to start supplementing.
Would Anything Happen if I Take Creatine When I’m Under 18?
Can a 14 Year Old Take Creatine?
Does Creatine Stunt Growth at 15?
How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy Creatine?
Creatine is one of the most widely-studied ergogenic aids, with thousands of research studies showing beneficial effects on energy levels, muscular strength, and sports performance. Creatine has an excellent safety profile, with no adverse side effects reported throughout the majority of the literature. So, should teens take creatine?
Enough evidence exists regarding the safety and efficacy of creatine use to warrant supplementation for teens in specific situations. To reduce the possible risks, make sure to consult a doctor before taking it. Also, go with third-party tested products and use the correct dosing protocol. Do you take creatine? Do you think it’s safe to take as a teenager? Talk to me more about it below!
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