Side Effects of Creatine – What Should You Be Looking Out For?

“…the evidence is not definitive and/or it is incomplete to indict the practice of creatine supplementation as a health risk; at the same time, our lack of information cannot be taken as assurance the Cr supplementation is free from health risks. Ignorance provides little comfort of untoward effects yet to be discovered.” – American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable; Physiological and Health Effects of Oral Creatine Supplementation, 2000

Creatine side effects?!  Should you be worried?

You should know how does creatine work and does creatine work for everyone.  If not, re-read those posts before you learn about the possible side effects of creatine that you may experience when taking this particular sports supplement.

First … creatine can be produced by your body.  It is a combination of 3 amino acids.  ATP is energy and creatine is critical in energy production.

Second …the majority of creatine’s accepted side effects, can be avoided if you follow the  ecommendations set forth in this blog or the supplement reference guide.

But with all supplements, there are possible side effects of creatine.

Possible Side Effects of Creatine

  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • muscle cramping
  • harm to kidney, liver, or heart functions
  • stroke risk when combing with caffeine or herb ephedra (also called Ma Huang)
  • skin condition called pigmented purpuric dermatosis
  • dehydration
  • water weight gain
  • increase the production of formaldehyde

Why would anybody in their right mind want to take a sports supplement with a list like the one above?

Take a deep breath because none of the side effects of creatine listed above have been linked to anything conclusive that make a direct correlation.   You can gain some water weight while taking creatine.  That’s because the cells retain more water (volumization) during the use.  If you take too much creatine (dosages beyond 20 grams per day) you can experience some stomach discomfort.  5 to 7 percent of people experience either stomach aches, diarrhea, or both. It’s much better to follow the recommended guidelines.  Taking more product beyond the muscle’s ability to store it will not help.

Is Death a Side Effects of Creatine?

There have been some rare cases where creatine supplementation has resulted in dying.  Those 2 cases are the rarest of exceptions.

Case #1:  Individual took much more than a normal dose for an extended period of time.  Well beyond 20 grams per day.

Case #2:  Individual had a pre-existing renal (kidney) problem.

How to Avoid the Side Effects of Creatine

This leads me to the following super simple safe guidelines.

  • Do not use creatine if you have pre-existing kidney problems
  • Do not use creatine if you cannot or will not stay properly hydrated.  This is a supplement that requires hydration
  • Do not use creatine if you are unwilling to calculate a proper creatine dosage
  • Do not use cheap, low quality products

Creatine is one of the most well researched and arguably significant in terms of overall health benefits next to protein and water.  Even thought 20-30% of the population is not responsive to creatine supplementation, the proven benefits far outweigh the non conclusive side effects of creatine.

In fact, many have been disproved but are still listed as side effects of creatine on thousands of websites.  Ge the facts on creatine and hundreds of other supplements by using the supplement goals reference guide.

Additional Resource:

WebMD – Uses and Side Effects of Creatine