The effect of creatine in the world of sports nutrition is profound. In the past decade, creatine supplementation has become very popular. Creatine is a substance that is promoted as a muscle building enhancer. Some scientific evidence has emerged that supports creatine as a safe muscle building and performance enhancing supplement. However, there is also sufficient scientific evidence which states that creatine can be an unsafe enhancement. Unfortunately, much of the negative evidence has been ignored, and the use of creatine has become widespread. Everyone from bodybuilders to baseball players and long distance runners have used and even advocated the use of creatine supplements.
Creatine is produced by the human body in very small amounts. In the 1990's, scientists discovered that the use of creatine increased muscular stores and phosphocreatine. Shortly thereafter, athletes and bodybuilders began using creatine supplements to increase muscle mass. The use of creatine is very popular because it is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased legally. That said, many sports nutrition groups have spoken out against the use of creatine supplements and the substance has been entirely banned by many athletic regulatory bodies.
People who use creatine supplements usually do so in short bursts or cycles. At the beginning of the cycle is a week-long creatine load-up phase which is followed by further daily creatine dosages for a few weeks or even months. Short term usage of creatine, for less than two weeks, is believed to have few negative side effects, but this is not known for certain. Unfortunately, no conclusive studies have been performed that addresses the long-term effects of creatine, but it is thought that long-term usage (over two weeks) can have a series of negative side effects.
Many people who go on creatine cycles report bouts of nausea, stomach aches and digestional irregularities, heightened liver transaminases, and renal damage. Creatine supplementation also causes urinary concentrations that are much, much higher than normal. Creatine users often have to urinate more frequently and may need to get up several times throughout the night to urinate. Some creatine users have also reported serious dehydration, increased anxiety and panic attacks, mood swings, and even horrific nightmares. It is possible that extended use of creatine may cause severe kidney damage.
The main thing to remember is that creatine supplements simply haven't been around long enough for scientists to be able to evaluate its long term effects on the human body. Because it is thought to be dangerous, it may not be a good idea to go on creatine, especially for an extended period of time. Given the fact that any muscular gains that can be attributed to creatine will most likely be lost after you stop taking the supplement, you may want to consider other healthier forms if supplementation. Your body can only take so much, and if it's not a foolproof way of gaining muscle mass, why take the risk?