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Will Creatine Help Your Bones?

Creatine is a nitrogen compound found mostly in red meat, seafood and poultry. Your body  produces creatine and the majority of the creatine in the body is in skeletal muscle (~95%).

Some, but not all, studies suggest creatine supplementation can improve muscle strength and endurance with weight lifting. A 2019 meta-analysis of multiple studies, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, concluded creatine supplementation during resistance training appeared to be effective in increasing muscle mass, strength and functional physical performance in aging adults. Creatine supplementation increases aging muscle mass and strength in both the upper and lower-body.

When you look at bone health specifically some, but not all, studies have found a positive effect from creatine supplementation on bone health combined with strength training. There is evidence that creatine is important for the activation of the cells involved in bone formation (osteoblasts) and may also be important for the activation of the cells involved in bone resorption (osteoclasts). Since creatine supplementation may be effective for increasing muscle mass in aging adults it is assumed creatine might positively affect bone due to the increased strain on bone that a greater muscle mass and resulting strength would allow when muscle contracts.

A study published in May 2020 in The Journals of Gerontology looked at whether long term creatine supplementation improved bone health in older, postmenopausal women with osteopenia. The study concluded that more than 2 years of supplementation did not improve bone health or affect lean mass or muscle function in this group of women, with or without resistance training, and refuted the theory that creatine alone would be beneficial to bone. Keep in mind one study does not generally conclusively prove a premise right or wrong. Repeated studies, with the same conclusions, not sponsored by industry, performed by different research groups are a more reliable gauge of supplement effectiveness. Additional good quality research would help clarify the benefits.

It appears creatine supplementation with resistance training in aging adults is effective for improving some risk factors for falls, which would reduce the risk of fractures.

Research is limited but creatine supplementation does not appear to negatively affect liver or kidney function in aging adults. The International Society for Sports Nutrition has concluded that creatine is safe for aging adults. More research, especially long-term, would be helpful.

You have to watch creatine products as some don’t have what they claim they contain. The consumerlab.com top pick for creatine is BulkSupplements.com Creatine Monohydrate. Or if you prefer a pill they recommend Universal Creatine Chews. Don’t go with a liquid creatine because it is unstable as a liquid. The powder you mix is ok if you drink it right away but not when purchased already as a liquid. Drink 8 cups of water per day if using a creatine supplement. Don’t take more than the recommended amount, as long-term use at high doses (20 grams/day), could be bad for your kidneys. Some people recommend a loading dose of 15 to 20 grams per day for up to 2 weeks and then maintenance of 2 to 5 grams per day. Other studies have found benefit using a constant dose of 3-5 grams daily and no loading dose.

Appropriate strength training to build your bones is a must when fighting osteoporosis. If you want to supplement with creatine to possibly enhance the effects of strength training it appears to be safe in recommended amounts and may help but the evidence isn’t strong that using creatine alone, without strength training, will help your bones. Always check with your health care provider to be sure you don't have any contraindications specific to your situation. Creatine supplementation won’t replace the value of strength training specifically targeted to safely build bone.



posted on 6/17/2021