What is Creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid is called building blocks of our body, made up of proteins. Creatine in the form of phosphocreatine (creatine phosphate) is an important store of energy in muscle cells. During intense exercise lasting around half a minute, phosphocreatine is broken down to creatine and phosphate, and the energy released is used to regenerate the primary source of energy, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Output power drops as phosphocreatine becomes depleted, because ATP cannot be regenerated fast enough to meet the demand of the exercise. It follows that a bigger store of phosphocreatine in muscle should reduce fatigue during sprinting. Extra creatine in the muscle may also increase the rate of regeneration of phosphocreatine following sprints, which should mean less fatigue with repeated bursts of activity in training or in many sport competitions.
Creatine is directly related to adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is formed in the powerhouses of the cell, the mitochondria. ATP is often referred to as the "universal energy molecule" used by every cell in our bodies. An increase in oxidative stress coupled with a cell's inability to produce essential energy molecules such as ATP, is a hallmark of the aging cell and is found in many disease states. Key factors in maintaining health are the ability to: (a) prevent mitochondrial damage to DNA caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and (b) prevent the decline in ATP synthesis, which reduces whole body ATP levels. It would appear that maintaining antioxidant status (in particular intra-cellular glutathione) and ATP levels are essential in fighting the aging process.
The daily turnover of creatine is about 2 g for a 70 kg person. About half of the daily needs of creatine are provided by the body synthesizing creatine from amino acids. The remaining daily need of creatine is obtained from the diet. Meat or fish are the best natural sources. For example, there is about 1 g of creatine in 250 g (half a pound) of raw meat. Dietary supplementation with synthetic creatine is the primary way athletes "load" the muscle with creatine. Daily doses of 20 g of creatine for 5-7 days usually increase the total creatine content in muscle by 10-25%. About one-third of the extra creatine in muscle is in the form of phosphocreatine
Creatine is a source of energy for muscle contraction. The body produces its own creatine in the liver, kidneys and pancreas. You also get it in your diet when you eat meat or fish. (Vegetarians may have less creatine.) The body stores most of the creatine in skeletal muscle to use when you exercise. The rest goes in the heart, brain and other tissues.
Although people respond differently, taking creatine supplements may increase the amount of creatine in muscles.
- Muscles may be able to generate more energy or generate energy at a faster rate.
- Some people think taking creatine supplements along with training may improve performance for quick bursts of intense energy, such as sprinting and weightlifting.
Vegetarians and other people with lower amounts of natural creatine may see more of a difference from taking creatine supplements. There may be a "saturation point" that limits how much creatine muscles can store.
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