Creatine supplementation is not necessarily bad for your kidneys. You don’t need to take it if you are healthy. However, there are some risks associated with taking creatine. If you have kidney disease or other health problems, then creatine may cause harm to your body. Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should avoid taking creatine supplements because they could harm your baby’s development.
The following facts will tell you whether creatine supplementation is good or bad for your kidneys:
Fact 1: Creatine Does Not Cause High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
If you suffer from high blood pressure, then creatine won’t help. Hypertension is caused by excess fluid retention in the arteries. When the amount of water in the arteries increases, so too does their resistance to flow through them.
This causes hypertension and heart attacks.
So what does creatine do?
Creatine doesn’t increase the amount of water in the arteries. It actually decreases the resistance to flow through them.
Fact 2: Creatine May Increase GFr Levels, But They Are Safe For Kidneys
GFR stands for Glomerular Filtration Rate. It measures how well your kidneys filter waste products out of your blood. Higher GFR means better filtering ability.
If your GFR is lower, it means that your filtering ability is decreased. If the filtering process stops completely, then it’s called End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
Studies have shown that creatine can increase GFR levels in people with normal or diminished GFR (1). While some studies have shown no effects (2), many others have shown that short term creatine supplementation can also increase the body’s water content (3).
So how does creatine increase water content?
Glad you asked!
Creatine is stored in your muscle cells. When you take it as a supplement, it draws water into your muscles. Since muscles are 77% water, this can make them appear larger.
The “pumped up” look may be appealing, but it isn’t really muscle growth. This effect may go away after you stop taking creatine supplements.
Sources & references used in this article:
Oral creatine supplementation: separating fact from hype by MS Juhn – The Physician and sportsmedicine, 1999 – Taylor & Francis
Creatine: a review of efficacy and safety by AS Graham, RC Hatton – … of the American Pharmaceutical Association …, 1999 – Elsevier
Synthesis of guanidinoacetate and creatine from amino acids by rat pancreas by RP da Silva, K Clow, JT Brosnan… – British journal of …, 2014 – cambridge.org
Homoarginine in the renal and cardiovascular systems by S Pilz, A Meinitzer, M Gaksch, M Grübler, N Verheyen… – Amino acids, 2015 – Springer
Creatine supplementation during pregnancy: summary of experimental studies suggesting a treatment to improve fetal and neonatal morbidity and reduce … by H Dickinson, S Ellery, Z Ireland… – BMC …, 2014 – bmcpregnancychildbirth …
High-dose vitamin E supplementation normalizes retinal blood flow and creatinine clearance in patients with type 1 diabetes. by SE Bursell, AC Clermont, LP Aiello, LM Aiello… – Diabetes …, 1999 – Am Diabetes Assoc
Creatine controversy? by SS Plisk, RB Kreider – Strength & Conditioning Journal, 1999 – journals.lww.com
Classifying AKI by urine output versus serum creatinine level by JA Kellum, FE Sileanu, R Murugan… – Journal of the …, 2015 – Am Soc Nephrol