Ask The Trainer #125 – Creatine & Kidneys

Ask The Trainer #125 - Creatine & Kidneys

QUESTION:

I had a question to ask regarding creatine use. Today,  I was in for my physical and I had to show my doctor all of the supplements I’m taking. I’m currently taking Pure Whey and Kre Alkalyn. My doctor warned me that I shouldn’t take Kre Alkalyn because it could do some serious damage to my kidneys. Now I’m second guessing whether or not I should continue to take it? Do you think taking Kre Alkalyn could cause kidney damage? Thanks.

Aaron


ANSWER:

Hi, Aaron. Short answer— Generally, no. I don’t want to insult your doctor, but the general ideology that supplementing creatine will lead to kidney damage is a bit of a hyperbole.

Unfortunately, some doctors are quick to bash supplements without taking a look at the existing evidence on that particular supplement. So here’s the scoop. No matter what you ingest, it will eventually come in contact with the kidneys. This is all part of your metabolic process that is necessary so that nutrients can be absorbed from the intestines.

Creatinine

The kidneys as a detoxifying filter that prevents toxins from infiltrating your body. When creatine is metabolized, there is a byproduct known as creatinine that can be measured in the blood and urine. So it does stand to reason that ingesting creatine on a regular basis will result in higher creatinine levels in the blood and urine.

Before modern-day research proved otherwise, much of the medical community believed that measuring creatinine levels was the gold standard method of assessing kidney damage. This is why some doctors still get excited when they discover that a patient has even slightly above average levels of creatinine. So what does the evidence show?

Thus far, all the most current evidence shows that people with healthy kidneys who supplement with creatine are not at any greater risk of developing kidney disease or suffering from any type of kidney impairment. This evidence is available in the Human Effects Matrix on examine.com.

Kidney Health

There are numerous studies available that measure kidney health in response to creatine supplementation. The only biomarker that seemed to change was the creatinine level, which is not necessarily indicative of kidney damage. This is especially true in the case of weightlifters and athletes because individuals who use their muscles more than the average person will, by default, have higher levels of creatinine in their urine. This isn’t to say that excessively high creatinine levels are automatically a false alarm. It’s just that a creatinine test in isolation is not an indicator of kidney damage.

A creatinine test is just one among a long list of additional tests that a nephrologist would use to determine kidney damage or dysfunction. Along with serum and urine creatinine tests, other tests would include: Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR), Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Urine Protein, Serum Albumin, nPNA, Subjective Global Assessment (SGA), Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, TSAT and Serum Ferritin, Parathyroid hormone (PTH), Calcium, Electrolytes, and a few other common tests that are included in a basic metabolic panel.


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Something else I found interesting. There is evidence that shows where a man with only 1 functioning kidney was taking 20 grams of creatine, yet no adverse reactions were observed. DISCLAIMER: This does NOT mean that if you have reduced renal function, you can go and start mega-dosing creatine. If you have a history of renal disease, you should absolutely consult a qualified doctor, preferably a nephrologist that specializes in kidney function issues!

Diuretics

Individuals being treated with diuretics should also proceed with caution. Since creatine is a hydrating compound that draws more water into cells, it would work antithetically to a diuretic. They are prescribed for the purpose of eliminating excess water from the body. Obviously, this would be problematic if someone with a particular health condition is experiencing adverse effects as a result of excess fluid retention.

To conclude, there is very solid evidence showing that normal, generally healthy people who supplement with creatine do not need to worry about damaging their kidneys or experiencing any other serious health conditions. Don’t take my word for it though. See for yourself in the Human Effects Matrix on examine.com. See link: https://examine.com/supplements/Creatine/#main_rubric%5D

Stable Creatine

Kre Alkalyn is a much more stable form of creatine than your average creatine supplement on the market. Because it is more stable, you may not need to take as much. Consequently, your kidneys will have less creatinine to produce and less work to do. Personally, I know lots of athletes out there who are enjoying the benefits of creatine supplementation just by taking 1.5 grams (2 capsules) of Kre Alkalyn per day!

I hope this information helps clear things up for you. I wish you all the best of success with your health and fitness goals!

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Chad Shaw

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