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Creatine is a chemical that is normally found in the body, mostly in muscles but also in the brain. It is commonly found in the diet in red meat and seafood. Creatine can also be made in the laboratory.
Creatine is most commonly used for improving exercise performance and increasing muscle mass in athletes and older adults. There is some science supporting the use of creatine in improving the athletic performance of young, healthy people during brief high-intensity activity such as sprinting. Because of this, creatine is often used as adietary supplement to improve muscle strength and athletic performance. In the U.S., a majority of sports nutritionsupplements, which total $2.7 billion in annual sales, contain creatine.
Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and professional sports. However, the NCAA no longer allows colleges and universities to supply creatine to their students with school funds. Students are permitted to buy creatine on their own and the NCAA has no plans to ban creatine unless medical evidence indicates that it is harmful. With current testing methods, detection of supplemental creatine use would not be possible.
In addition to improving athletic performance, creatine is also taken by mouth for creatine deficiency syndromes that affect the brain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia,Huntington's disease, disease that cause inflammation in the muscles (idiopathic inflammatory myopathies), Parkinson's disease, diseases of the muscles and nerves,multiple sclerosis, muscle atrophy, muscle cramps, breathing problems in infants while sleeping, head trauma, Rett syndrome, an eye disease called gyrate atrophy, inherited disorders that affect the senses and movement, schizophrenia, muscle breakdown in the spine, and recovery from surgery. It is also taken by mouth to slow the worsening of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease),osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, McArdle's disease, and for various muscular dystrophies.
People apply creatine to the skin for aging skin.
Creatine is involved in making the energy muscles need to work.
Vegetarians and other people who have lower total creatine levels when they start taking creatine supplements seem to get more benefit than people who start with a higher level of creatine. Skeletal muscle will only hold a certain amount of creatine; adding more won't raise levels any more. This "saturation point" is usually reached within the first few days of taking a "loading dose."