Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Is Creatine Use A Gateway To Steroid Abuse?

Tuesday, 29 June 2010 10:27 AM

Question: My 18-year-old weightlifting son wants to take creatine. I'm not so crazy about this idea, what do you think?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

I also share your concern. Use this time to evaluate his diet with him. He is now as receptive as he ever will be to optimizing his nutrient load and vitamin intake, and balancing this with his activity.

Here are the top 10 picks for healthy foods as reported recently by Mayo Clinic consultants: almonds, apples, blueberries, broccoli, red beans, salmon, spinach, sweet potatoes, vegetable juice, and wheat germ.

Supplementation for muscle bulking often leads toward later consideration of anabolic steroid use with its significant health dangers and risks. Educate him of the very real dangers of anabolic steroid use. Remember that these products, often used in combination with other agents and available without prescription, can be harmful when used improperly.

Much of the time, the supplements given are not pure and can lead to nasty surprises on routine athletic testing.

Creatine products are not protected by FDA scrutiny. They are regarded as dietary supplements. They are known to cause renal (kidney) failure in people with impaired renal function, so caveat emptor (buyer beware).

Creatine is an amino acid (protein building block) found in foods such as meat, fish, and milk. It is sold in supplement form as a powder as well as tablets, energy bars, and drink mixes. Caffeine intake either in drinks (such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks) or tablet form, is reported to negate the advantage of creatine supplementation.

Creatine is involved in the transfer of phosphate to adenosine diphosphate that provides energy for muscular activity. Creatine supplementation has been reported to increase skeletal muscle stores by 25 percent to 50 percent and does help in high intensity, brief, repetitive activity when consumed with a carbohydrate drink. Muscle mass improves in conjunction with a regular exercise (such as weightlifting) program.

The word here is caution.

Creatine is usually well tolerated and safe. Ideal dosing should be cyclical, and I recommend it be taken for no longer than three continuous months followed by a one-month rest period. This kind of supplementation is very popular among young people at present, and is usually used absent of medical supervision.

Proper dosing is important. Avoid relying on the advice of untrained, field-experienced bodybuilders.

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