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Can Taking Creatine Cause Kidney Problems

Understanding The Potential Side Effects And The Potential Benefits Should I Use Creatine

Does Creatine Cause Kidney Problems?

Ultimately, that is an individual decision. It comes down to doing the research and deciding if you feel comfortable with it. My opinion is that creatine is safe and can be a valuable addition to an otherwise strong training program.

To help decide if it is for you, check the article, Should I Use Creatine Supplements?

Couple more articles you may like

What About The Liver

A common knock against creatine is that it’s bad for the liver, but this doesn’t withstand scrutiny. A number of human studies have looked specifically at creatine usage and liver parameters and found no association between the supplement and liver problems.1,2

If you really want to go cherry-picking, a single study found liver problems in a particular mouse strain after 300 days of supplementation.3 Even with that in mind, human studies done on people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, over a span of 9-16 months failed to find any problems with liver enzymes.4-6

Medications That Can Harm The Kidneys Interacts With Creatine

Taking high doses of creatine might harm the kidneys. Some medications can also harm the kidneys. Taking creatine with medications that can harm the kidneys might increase the chance of kidney damage.Some of these medications that can harm the kidneys include cyclosporine aminoglycosides including amikacin , gentamicin , and tobramycin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen , indomethacin , naproxen , piroxicam and numerous others.

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What Do Abnormal Creatinine Levels Mean

So, you went to the doctor, did the tests, and the results are in: You have high creatinine levels. Now what? Step onedont panic. Elevated creatinine doesnt necessarily mean your kidneys are in a downward spiral. Anything outside the normal range may cause a healthcare provider to investigate further, but doesnt always spell danger. Numerous factors can influence your test results. Here are just a few:

  • Increased exercise: Have you been on a fitness kick? In the gym every day? This spike in muscle breakdown will increase the production of creatinine.
  • Increased protein consumption: Cooked meats contain creatinine, so if youre feasting on steak and roast chicken every night, you could see higher levels.
  • Urinary tract blockage: If you cant urinate, your body cant eliminate creatinine, so kidney stones and other urinary disruptions will allow it to remain in your bloodstream.
  • Certain medications: Sometimes, drugs can be the culprit. The antibiotic trimethoprim and Cimetidine, a stomach ulcer and heartburn medication, can inhibit creatinine secretion. Sometimes, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen, can also be a cause.
  • High blood pressure:Studies have also shown that hypertension, heart failure, and other heart conditions can cause increased creatinine levels.

Likewise, low creatinine isnt always dangerous. It could be the result of low muscle mass , pregnancy, a low-protein diet, or certain liver conditions.

Must Read About Kidney Diseases

Creatine Supplement Information 101  Lee Hayward
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General Side Effects And Concerns

First off: Yes, creatine can cause water retention. This is probably no surprise. Regardless, unless you have a specific concernâlike hypertension that requires treatment with diureticsâit’s not a medical issue. For people concerned about looking bloated, the water retention happens in your muscles, so it actually makes you look a bit larger. This explains why some bodybuilders cut out creatine near the end of their contest prep. The rest of us needn’t worry.

Regarding other potential side effects:

  • Stomach distress. This can happen when you take too much creatine at once, perhaps during a loading phase, without much else in your stomach. The remedy is usually simple: either increase your water and food intake when you take creatine or just take smaller doses of creatine throughout the day.
  • Intestinal distress or diarrhea. This also can happen when you simply take too much creatine in a single dose. Since it cannot be absorbed in high quantities, this can cause osmotic diarrhea, a condition where water gets drawn into the bowels. The solution, again, is to take smaller doses.

All of the common side effects associated with creatine stem from its absorption profile in the intestines. At low doses, around 1-3 grams, creatine is absorbed well. As the dose gets higher, the absorption decreases, which is why you can’t overdose on creatineâat least, not in a way that would present a medical concern.

Is There Any Concern

For people with healthy kidneys, theres no reason to worry about taking creatine.

For people with only one kidney, the current evidence suggests theres no reason to worry.

For most people with already damaged kidneys, the current evidence suggests theres no reason to worry.


At this moment in time the only theoretical side-effect of creatine pertains to the combination of kidney issues and water retentionin particular, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis as assessed by this case study.

While normally case studies linking creatine to kidney damage are pretty weak in design this one is fairly strong.

The subject in question, with the disease state, had a worsening of GFR when creatine was introduced and, when creatine was stopped, GFR tended to start to improve itself. A sound argument for creatine causing the changes in GFR.

The reason this particular kidney state is notable is because it causes a large degree of edema, or water retention, and the water retention itself can be damaging. In situations where excess water retention causes damage then diuretics are given.

Creatine retains water, which can make these problems worse.

This topic hasnt been further investigated but it leaves us with a good rule of thumb for the only potential downside of creatineif you have a medical condition for which you are prescribed diuretics then dont take creatine as they do opposite things to the bodys water content.

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Does Creatine Increase Your Creatinine Levels

People think creatine increases the creatinine in your body. But does this thought hold any ground?

If you go by evidence, the thought doesnt have any validity.

According to, a dose of 5 grams of creatine is not going to make any significant change to your creatinine levels.

However, a higher dose may increase creatinine, which people can take as a sign of kidney damage. Though, this idea too doesnt hold much ground- concludes that even a dose of 20 grams/day may increase your creatinine by only a small percentage.

Metformin And Chronic Kidney Disease

Dietary Guidelines : Dangers of Creatine

Systematic review evaluates benefits and harms of metformin use in people with diabetes and CKD.

Blake Cameron, MD, discusses his teams research on clinical outcomes of metformin use in people with chronic kidney disease and explains what health care professionals need to know about changes to the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations guidance on metformin. These changes make some people who have both diabetes and CKD eligible to take metformin, and research suggests that the medication may have benefits for this population.

Q: Why did the U.S. Food and Drug Administration add a boxed warning about metformin use in people with CKD when it approved the medication in 1994?

A: The story on metformin is really a story of guilt by association. Metformin belongs to a class of drugs called biguanides. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the leading drug in the biguanide class was phenformin. Globally, metformin was rarely used because phenformin was much more effective in lowering blood sugar. However, phenformin had a big problem: it was killing people. In 1977, phenformin was pulled from the U.S. market because it caused a fatal condition called lactic acidosis.

Q: How has the FDA changed the boxed warning about metformin use in people with CKD?

The FDAs new boxed warning indicates that metformin can be initiated in patients who have an eGFR greater than 45 mL/min, and treatment can be continued in existing patients as long as the eGFR remains above 30 mL/min.

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How To Lower Creatinine Levels

How your healthcare provider treats your abnormal creatinine levels depends entirely on the underlying cause. Changes in lifestyle and diet can be a simple and effective treatment for minor cases. But chronic kidney disease, kidney damage, or kidney failure require more robust procedures. Medications to control symptoms, dialysis, or in the most extreme cases, a kidney transplant may be necessary. Here are a few potential methods for lowering creatinine levels:

Can Creatine Cause Kidney Failure

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Myth : Creatine Causes Gastrointestinal Distress

Fact: All available evidence suggests creatine is safe to use, although it may cause some minor GI distress.

There is some truth to gastrointestinal issues with creatine supplementation, but it’s rare. In fact, it’s reported than only 5-7 percent of people who take creatine experience stomachaches.

Stomach distress typically occurs when you take too much creatine at once or on an empty stomach.

In an attempt to reduce the level of GI distress, micronized forms of creatine, which have been ground into smaller form, have become readily available. The premise of micronization is particle-size reduction to increase solubility of the substance, potentially reducing GI distress. It may also allow for a quicker mix and faster absorption.

Negative Effects Of Preworkouts

What Is The Best Brand Of Creatine Monohydrate ...

Preworkout supplements are one way for weight lifters and fitness fanatics to get energized for high-intensity workouts. The stimulants in these supplements provide a boost for your muscles and energy level, but they can also lead to a number of negative side effects including dehydration, kidney problems and high blood pressure.

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Our Kidneys Filter Proteins Waste Products

As our body metabolizes protein, the process generates various nitrogenous waste products such as urea, uric acid, creatinine, and hippuric acid .

These waste products need filtering out of the body for excretion, and this responsibility belongs to our kidneys.

This task requires a lot of hard work, which is quite normal for the kidneys they receive and process approximately 1.2 liters of blood per minute. This amount accounts for around 25% of all cardiac output, which shows the importance of the organ .

If waste products build up in our body, they become toxic, and so the kidneys play a crucial role in removing these products.

As a result, many people assume that higher protein intake leads to a higher kidney workload, and the extra demand causes kidney strain.

What Have Studies Found

Ill skip over the rat data on this topic since, aside from some species differences between us and rats on this topic, we have a wealth of human data.

The human studies tend to focus on a biomarker called Glomerular Filtration Rate , a measure of how fast and efficiently the kidneys can function. Creatinine is out of the question due to the false positive issue.

When it comes to young and healthy demographics, people who are most likely to use creatine, supplementation of 5 to 10 grams a day has been found to nothave any significant harm to kidney function. This safety also extends to older individuals, about 60 years old.

What about demographics that arent generally seen as healthy?

Creatine has been tested atleastthree separate times for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis . While creatine was hypothesized to be beneficial for ALS, and the studies ended up being lacklustre, all three showed no harm to the kidneys.

While ALS isnt a condition thats classically associated with kidney damage, type II diabetes issurprisingly creatine is without harm even in this condition. At least one study even used a moderate dose of two grams creatine a day in hemodialysis without any harm.

The kidneys were already a lost cause in the hemodialysis example, but a case study of a man who had a single kidney who did not suffer any negative effects from a standard loading protocol of 20 grams for five days is perhaps more relevant.

Mostly, yeah, but not in every case.

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High Creatinine Level: Causes And Symptoms

The chemical waste created by the metabolic activities of body muscles is known as creatine. Creatine is a significant chemical molecule that helps in the production of energy for the muscles. It is the main source of creatinine in our body. About 2% of the body’s creatine is converted into creatinine every day and is transported to the kidneys for disposal. The kidneys function to eliminate most of the creatinine via urine.

Normal levels of creatinine in the blood are 0.6 to 1.2 milligrams per deciliter in adult males and 0.5 to 1.1 mg/dL in adult females. You can find the level of creatinine in the blood high at times.

Ingesting Heavy Metals And Toxins

Supplements: Truth About Creatine Risks

Like all dietary supplements, protein powders arent regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which means you have to rely on the goodwill of manufacturers to ensure that they are safe to consume.

In 2018, a study sponsored by the Clean Label Project, a national nonprofit focused on transparency in labeling, released a study showing that many of the top-selling protein powder supplements contain heavy metals and BPA , an industrial chemical used in plastics and a known endocrine disruptor. The worst offenders were plant-based protein powders, which were found to contain lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. The study also found that 28 out of 134 of the protein powders contained twice the regulatory limit of BPA while other protein powders tested free of BPA.

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Who Has Low Or High Blood Creatinine Levels

  • Muscular young or middle-aged adults may have more creatinine in their blood than the norm for the general population.
  • Elderly persons may have less creatinine in their blood than the norm. Infants have normal levels of about 0.2 or more, depending on their muscle development.
  • In people with malnutrition, severe weight loss, and long standing illnesses, the muscle mass tends to diminish over time and, therefore, their creatinine level may be lower than expected for their age.

What Is A Good Creatinine Level

In most cases, the normal range for serum creatinine for someone with healthy kidneys is 0.9 to 1.3 mg per deciliter for adult males and 0.6 to 1.1 mg per deciliter for adult females.

However, there are a lot of variables when it comes to levels of creatinine. Normal is a somewhat subjective term. Muscle breakdown creates creatinine, so your muscle mass and activity level can influence the amount in your blood. To accurately measure blood creatinine levels, a doctor will first assess these various factors to establish a baseline, according to Taylor Graber, MD, an anesthesiologist and founder of ASAP IVs. Creatinine level assessment starts with getting a demographic baseline to assess what normal levels should be, Dr. Graber says. This depends on age, race, gender, and body size. Once these values are normalized, changes from this range can signify abnormalities of the kidney.

Healthcare providers like to keep an eye on creatinine levels for various reasons. If you had or currently have kidney disease, kidney damage, diabetes, or another illness that affects your kidneys, or are taking a medication that could affect your kidneys, your healthcare provider might order regular creatinine measurement to monitor your renal function. The most common test methods are via blood and urine.

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Can Creatinine Levels Change Quickly

Creatinine levels can change rapidly, even throughout the day, which is why healthcare providers monitor them for an extended period of time. One blood test that returns high creatinine in blood could be a fluke. However, several tests in a row that show elevated levels could indicate chronic kidney disease. A sudden spike in creatinine levels could be a warning sign for acute kidney damage or other conditions, depending on symptoms.

What Are The Side Effects Of Taking Creatine Supplements

Is Creatine Safe? Get The Facts Here.

Creatine is a relatively safe supplement with few side effects reported. However, you should keep in mind that:

  • If you take creatine supplements, you may gain weight because of water retention in your bodys muscles. It will take seven to 28 days to see energy effects depending on how much creatine you already have in your body.
  • It may be dangerous to take creatine supplements when you are actually dehydrated or trying to lose weight.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition recently found no scientific evidence that short- or long-term use of creatine monohydrate causes any harmful effects on otherwise healthy individuals. Nevertheless, always contact your healthcare provider before taking creatine or any supplements.

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