According to a study from Wisconsin, the efficacy of creatine supplementation in energy production and increasing the exercise performance of adults has been proven.
But, can young athletes also take these supplements?
In this article, we will discuss what supplementing creatine does to a teen’s body, how to use this compound, and what are the risks of creatine supplementation.
What Does a Creatine Supplement Do?
Generally, adult athletes are taking creatine supplements to improve their athletic performance.
Creatine is one of the considered performance-enhancing supplements, together with whey protein, that does not only work on your physical health but your mind as well.
Naturally produced in the body’s muscle cells, creatine forms when two amino acids such as glycine and arginine, combine.
Eventually, this combination can help your muscles get more energy that can support you during a high-intensity exercise.
As workout supplements, supplemental creatine works by stimulating ATP production in the body, thereby increasing your stamina and exercise capacity.
In a clinical review from Pennsylvania, the effects of these performance-enhancing supplements include the following:
- Increased body mass and muscle strength
- Reduced skeletal muscle fatigue
- Improved physical performance
- Boosted cognitive performance
In the study, it was reported that aging is associated with muscle mass loss.
Fortunately, creatine intake can reverse the effects of aging on your muscle health.
Benefits of Creatine Supplements for High School Athletes
The American Academy of Pediatrics is against taking creatine supplements as the organization believes that the safety of creatine supplementation in people under 18 has not been fully established.
But since we are talking about teens, generally those who are between 14-19 years old, like adults, teen athletes can also benefit from creatine supplements.
Some of the benefits active adolescent athletes can get from taking creatine will be discussed in this section.
1) Increases muscle mass
The main reason why teen athletes start taking creatine is that they want to gain muscle.
Since a creatine supplement can improve performance, this might be a good choice.
According to a study from the USA, creatine supplementation works by drawing water into your muscle cells which can eventually cause increased lean body mass and muscle growth.
2) Increases muscle strength
Aside from increasing lean body mass, youth athletes are taking creatine to increase their anaerobic performance.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the performance-enhancing supplement, creatine, can enhance creatine stores.
Eventually, this can lead to increased anaerobic and muscle power.
In another study from Chile, it was reported that creatine intake can increase the muscle power output and endurance of below 18-year-old youth athletes playing soccer.
In another study from the State Medical Society of Wisconsin, it was found that high school athletes playing different sports can also benefit from taking creatine.
3) Speeds muscle recovery
Aside from being a performance-enhancing supplement, creatine is also considered a post-workout supplement as it can promote muscle recovery.
This means that youth athletes taking creatine can achieve the following benefits:
- Reduction of muscle stress
- Prevention of muscle injury
- Treatment of muscle soreness
Always remember that workouts can cause muscle damage to active adolescents, as cited in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Additionally, taking creatine can prevent these damages including muscle overuse.
4) Improves brain health
Before creatine supplementation was popular in sports medicine, it was first discovered in treating brain injury and other pediatric disorders.
According to a study from Greece, some of the health conditions, outside sports, creatine supplementation can provide include the following:
- Gyrate atrophy
- Muscular dystrophies
- Traumatic brain injury
- Mitochondria-related health conditions in children
In a randomized controlled trial from India, it was reported that a high-quality creatine supplement can prevent the weakening of muscles.
In another study from Greece, dietary supplements with creatine were found to be effective in improving the cognitive function of patients 1-18 years old.
So, can this answer the question is creatine safe for teens?
How to Use Creatine Supplements for Teens
Creatine users, especially teen athletes, should know how to properly use creatine.
There are many factors, like body weight and body composition, that are being considered.
For example, when a teen athlete is taking a specific dose, it does not mean that the dose is suitable for all.
The Recommended Creatine Dose
As said, factors are being considered when calculating how much creatine is needed for teen athletes. Some of these are the following:
- Age and sex
- Body weight
- Body composition
- Medical conditions such as high blood pressure
Take note that the form of creatine is also considered.
According to some experts, creatine monohydrate is the most suitable form of creatine for teen athletes.
These experts have based their statement on the fact that creatine monohydrate is very stable and does not impair kidney function.
Research suggests that creatine powder administered for 11 months at a dose of 0.3g/kg/day in teen athletes who weigh 45 kgs were able to improve their training adaptations, exercise strength, performance, and capacity.
Furthermore, there is a creatine-loading phase when it comes to these supplements.
The loading phase includes the initial dose you need to take before going to your maintenance phase.
Take note that the effectiveness of creatine use also depends on the purity and quality of the nutritional supplement you purchase.
When you buy a nutritional supplement online, make sure to get it from an official website.
You can also start your creatine use by purchasing from drugstores and health food stores.
Healthcare professionals in these establishments can also give you more reliable health information about creatine.
The Risks of Creatine Supplementation in Teenagers
Creatine use offers a significant physical advantage in adult populations.
However, this might not be the same for teen athletes due to possible adverse effects.
According to a study from the USA, one of the commonly reported negative effects of creatine use includes weight gain.
In this study, this weight gain is caused by water retention due to the drawing of water into muscle cells.
Fortunately, gaining weight caused by creatine use can wear off after continuous exercise.
According to the journal of Sports Medicine, other side effects of creatine include the following:
- Gastrointestinal distress such as stomach pains
- Muscle cramps
Some people who wish to take creatine may also ask, can creatine stunt growth? There are no studies that show this can happen.
Choosing the Right Creatine Products
It is important to choose the right creatine products for youth athletes to optimize the effects of these supplements on muscle growth.
Additionally, some creatine products contain banned substances that are not just prohibited in sports but can also impair normal growth.
These banned substances may boost the effects of creatine but can also increase the risk of side effects.
If you want to find the most suitable creatine product for you, reach out to a healthcare professional or registered sports nutritionist.
Indeed, creatine plays a big role in energy production, muscle function, and cognition support.
However, for teens who want to take these supplements, additional caution and care are needed.
When calculating creatine dose, many factors are considered.
Some of these are age, sex, weight, and medical conditions of the user.
In the case of improper creatine dose calculation or intake, certain side effects such as muscle cramps, stomach pains, and dehydration can be experienced.
Lastly, when buying supplemental creatine, make sure to buy from legit health food stores.
Doing this allows you to avoid fake products with additional substances that can harm your health.