Creatine is a naturally occurring chemical that is found in the human body. One of its purposes is to help provide muscles with energy. Although natural forms of creatine can also be found in certain fish and meats, many athletes turn to creatine supplements in the form of capsules to help enhance their performance. Creatine capsules are one of the most popular forms of synthetic creatine.
The discovery of the benefits of creatine prompted many scientific studies, resulting in the creation of creatine monohydrate. Creatine capsules contain a micronized form of creatine monohydrate, which means that the supplement is very finely ground to make the chemical more efficiently absorbed. It is thought that creatine ethyl ester capsules provide an even more absorbable form.
Creatine is produced naturally by the kidneys, liver, and pancreas. It is then carried to the skeletal muscles and converted to a form called creatine phosphate. The muscles are able to use this to replenish adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a compound that the muscles use as an energy source. Creatine capsules and other forms of creatine supplementation have become quite popular as athletes have discovered their benefits and begun to use them to obtain a competitive edge.
While muscular enhancement is a well known benefit of creatine capsules, other benefits have also been discovered. It is thought that creatine might help people who are at risk for problems with the cardiovascular and nervous systems, particularly the elderly. Creatine capsules might also have benefits in mental function, particularly people who are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. As of 2010, research is being conducted to evaluate the possible benefits of creatine in treating muscular dystrophy. Additionally, the loss of muscle mass common in aging may also be treated with creatine capsules.
There have been many reports of adverse effects associated with taking creatine capsules. Among these are water weight gain, gastrointestinal problems such as cramping or diarrhea, and dehydration. It is also possible that creatine might contribute to high blood pressure, but this is likely an indirect effect related to water retention, since creatine draws water into the muscles. Gastrointestinal distress might be avoided by taking micronized creatine capsules because they are more easily absorbed than some other forms of the supplement.
Adverse side effects attributed to creatine supplementation might be a result of the presence of harmful contaminants. Such contaminants can be found in synthetic creatine that is produced more inexpensively than higher grade creatine products. It has been found that most adverse effects of creatine can be avoided by purchasing higher quality supplements and taking them as directed.