GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- A new study by a University of Florida professor finally helps explain some of the side effects associated with the popular muscle enhancer creatine.
Muscle cramping, heat illness and even kidney problems have long been rumored to be associated with taking the supplement, but previous studies couldn't explain these problems.
Now, in a study funded by one of the largest grants ever awarded by the National Athletic Trainers Association Research and Education Foundation, Michael Powers, an assistant professor in UF's department of exercise and sport sciences, shows for the first time that creatine increases both the body's overall water content and its ratio between intracellular and extracellular water.
The finding is important because it explains how the body's natural balance is thrown off by creatine consumption. "As you work out, you're losing water from the extracellular space," Powers said. "If you already have a higher level of water in the intracellular space because of the creatine, you end up with even more of an imbalance. Over time it may make you dehydrate faster, which is associated with heat illness and cramping."
More importantly, however, overuse of the supplement can lead to kidney problems.
"The only place for the creatine to go is through the kidneys," Powers said. "After awhile, you retain water and your urine becomes highly concentrated. To avoid this problem, increase your fluid intake so that you'll have more of it to go through your kidneys and eliminate waste."
Creatine is a nonsteroidal, nonprescription muscle-enhancer taken orally prior to working out. Some users believe it gives them a training edge by helping increase body weight and muscle energy. According to a recent study, 25 percent of Major League baseball players and 50 percent of NFL players use the supplement.
"Creatine is the most popular supplement there's ever been," Powers said. "Anytime you have a supplement that is use
Contact: Mike Powers
University of Florida