Wow – I just read a new study on creatine and it just keeps looking better and better as a supplement. Creatine is one of those naturally occurring substances that works so well as a supplement, scientists used to think it might be bad for you over the long term, like pharmaceutical drug use. After all, as the old saying goes, “for every action there must be a reaction”. When it comes to drugs or prescription medications, the reaction eventually becomes negative as continual use will, at some point, take its toll on certain organs and tissues. For example, the chronic use of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen or other painkillers will have eventual negative side-effects on the kidneys or stomach lining. Well, the short- and long-term reaction for creatine appears to be nothing short of sensational. In other words, there’s no negative reaction — the action caused by supplementing creatine beyond what the diet can supply seems to cause a reaction of continual benefits – even in old age!
Creatine supplements have now been in play for almost 20 years and have been used safely by millions people. This very fact has prompted thousands of clinical studies that have looked further into creatine’s benefits as a supplement.
We have always known that athletes get stronger using creatine supplements, but scientists have recently found that older men and women can benefit also. In fact, in the study I just read, a group of men approximately 70 years of age did strength training for 12 weeks. Those who used 5 grams of creatine daily gained double the muscle size and lifted 40-60% more weight than those using the placebo. That’s amazing! Creatine supplementation also works for women. While younger women may not like the muscle-building effect, older women look forward to it for many reasons: 1) As you age you lose muscle and tone so adding it back can dramatically enhance your appearance; 2) bones weaken with age and stronger muscles mean stronger bones; 3) the more & stronger muscle you can keep, the better your body will function into old age, allowing you to live a longer, more productive life without assistance.
For those of you wondering how supplemental creatine works beyond just supplying the additional energy substrate to lift more weights, which in itself can lead to more muscle, here are a few things recently discovered: high levels of creatine appear to turn on your muscle-building genes and stimulate satellite cells, which are the stem cells found in muscle just waiting to wake up. These cells help repair and build more muscle. Also, creatine can help keep muscle from breaking down from age, injury or weightlifting, meaning your body can now spend more time making new muscle rather than repairing old or damaged tissues.
Wow again. Creatine sounds like a wonder drug (minus the negative side effects) for any of us in the older generation looking to stay young and spry as long as possible. Unfortunately when I was a bodybuilder, creatine wasn’t around and, ironically, it was long after retirement from competition that I started using it for the exact reasons listed above. I have been using it daily since I turned 50 and I am now 58. Yes sir, creatine mixed in my morning shake keeps me structurally healthy so I can drink scotch at night – now that’s a winning combo.