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Creatine and Teenagers

Creatine is an acidic enzyme occurring naturally in all vertebrates. Creatine helps to supply energy to muscle and nerve cells. The body manufactures stores and uses creatine for pursuits which require bursts of energy – like running at a high speed. Creatine can be classified as a dietary health supplement, as one can consume, theoretically, enough creatine rich food – like red meat, to substitute supplementation. Bodybuilders, athletes and a vast majority of individuals following a fitness regime, resort to creatine supplements because it has proven to increase body mass and lean muscle formation, in a very short span of time.

A question asked frequently by creatine users is, whether it is safe for use by children and adolescents. Teenagers have especially shown an increasing trend to take health supplements to increase fitness and develop a more athletic physique.

Research reports suggest that acute creatine usage actually benefits children. However little is known about effects of chronic creatine use in this age group. Physicians and health experts still continue to advice against the introduction diet supplementation in the diet of children. They claim that children, just by participating in daily physical activities, contribute to their bodily performances. It is advised that one should focus on supplement intake when one becomes mature or when such physical activities reach a plateau.

Most physicians are of the opinion that not enough studies have been completed on the long and short term effects Creatine may have on teenagers. Dr Robert Gotlin, the Director of the Sports Rehabilitation program at the Beth Israel Medical Centre feels that there exists a lot of conflicting research reports, which on one hand supports the product, and on the other hand rejects it. Thus, results of long term use are hard to determine.

Even when such studies are conducted, the period of study remains, on an average, around two weeks, which physicians claim is a very short span of time to actually adjudge whether Creatine is harmful or beneficial.

Since Creatine is available over-the counter, doctors claim that it might difficult to prevent teenagers from getting access to Creatine. In a recently study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 44 percent of high school seniors admitted using creatine. 28% of collegiate athletes admit that they use creatine. It has been suggested that communication between parents, children and the physician, should be encouraged. Also, should medicinal reasons force a teenager to take Creatine, dosage should be limited to 3 gms or less a day.

It is important to note here that not all Creatine supplements have obtained the FDA approval. FDA approval to Creatine is termed as “loose” by many industry experts, since though Creatine is approved, a lot of marketers add more chemicals to pure Creatine to lessen side effects and increase effectiveness. For example, one seller alleges that its product does not get converted to Creatinine in the human stomach, a compound which is nullify all expected benefits from ingesting Creatine. The company claims that it does this by addition of chemicals to prevent conversion of Creatine into Creatinine. The effects of such additives on the human body haven’t been studied.

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