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Creatine For Women: Types, Benefits and Safe Supplementation

Creatine is a very popular and effective supplement for physical performance, especially for men. But, gone are the days when creatine is thought of as a supplement just for them. Since this supplement has been scientifically proven to enhance athletic performance, build strength, and support muscle growth, many women have been dissuaded to take creatine with concerns that it might also make them bulky.

Key takeaways:

However, mounting evidence also support its valuable addition to women’s health and fitness routine. Here, we discuss about the many benefits of creatine supplementation for women and how to take it for best results.

What is creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in the body, primarily concentrated in the muscles. Creatine increases the number of muscular levels of phosphocreatine which is necessary for the production of ATP, the energy molecule. As such, creatine is used by the body to produce energy and is very important during physical activities. It is obtained from dietary sources such as red meat, fish, and chicken.

As a dietary supplement, creatine is often taken by athletes, bodybuilders, and other fitness enthusiasts to increase the creatine levels in the body (particularly in the muscles) to help increase muscle strength, endurance, and size, but it is also used by people who are looking to improve their overall physical performance or support their fitness goals.

Note
Creatine is not a steroid. Creatine is a completely natural substance found abundantly in the body. In addition, creatine is structurally different from the steroid class of drugs.

8 creatine benefits for women

Creatine directly supports energy production. But beyond that, creatine supplementation can offer several health benefits for women. Below we list 8 benefits of creatine supplementation for women's health.

1. Build lean and strong muscle mass

With increased creatine levels, creatine supplementation can help women build lean muscle mass. More potently, in combination with several kinds of physical resistance training, creatine can support appendicular lean body mass and strong muscle mass.

Several clinical trials on older adults showed that creatine supplementation cause great improvements in terms of functional capacity, muscle strength, muscular endurance, isokinetic knee extension strength, fat free mass, and lower fat mass.

With capacity to increase muscle mass, creatine is also being used in treating people with sarcopenia, especially in women, who have higher risk of muscle loss after menopause.

2. Increase energy levels and physical performance

Due to the primary function of creatine in fueling energy production, women experience improved energy levels with creatine supplementation.

During intense exercises, women demonstrate sustained energy levels and improved total body endurance over time. In addition to exercise performance, overall athletic performance, including aerobic and anaerobic activities, and recovery can also be improved by creatine supplementation.

3. Improve fertility

Some studies link altered creatine metabolism with reduced fertility in women. Reduced fertility predisposes women to poor outcomes of pregnancy.

Women with ovarian endometrioma, a sign of endometriosis that is considered a serious threat to female reproductive health, have significantly reduced creatine levels compared with control women. Indeed, creatine deficiency is linked with reduced fertility in women and poor pregnancy outcomes.

4. Help with post-menopausal symptoms

Postmenopausal women experience decreased in strength, muscle, and bone density. According to research, creatine may ameliorate postmenopausal symptoms by reducing inflammation, oxidative stress as well as markers of bone resorption. With creatine supplementation, postmenopausal women had improved muscle strength and mass.

In addition, a randomized controlled trial studying the effects of high-dose creatine supplementation and resistance training suggested improvements of bone health of postmenopausal women. On the contrary, another randomized clinical trial, but with low-dose creatine supplementation, studies its effects on bone health for 2 years and found no improvement, which may be due to differences in dosages.

5. Improve mood, anxiety, and depression

In fact, research shows that depression is negatively associated with dietary creatine intake.

Specifically, dietary creatine intake effectively reduces depressive symptoms in female adolescents and adults in combination with antidepressant therapies. Other studies also reported improvement of stress, mood, anxiety, as well as mental fatigue.

6. Augment cognition and brain health

Creatine supplementation can also improve brain health and cognitive performance, both in males and females. Since the brain requires a huge amount of ATP to perform difficult tasks, creatine supplementation boosts phosphocreatine levels in the brain to support energy generation for brain use.

Previous findings also reveal that females have lower brain creatine levels, especially in frontal lobe which controls mood, cognition, memory, and emotion. As such, supplementation can provide positive effects on cognitive aspects.

7. Mitigates effects of insomnia

Women are more likely to have insomnia and other sleep problems compared to men.

Beyond physical performance, creatine supplementation can also alleviate negative effects of sleep deprivation. Research shows that creatine supplementation is beneficial during high stress and sleep deprivation.

Notably, creatine supplementation may reduce the amount of sleep needed to feel rested. Even with sleep deprivation, creatine supplementation shows marked improvement in certain aspects of psychomotor functions.

8. Fight skin aging

Evidence indicates that creatine supplementation can help reduce sagging skin, sun damage, and wrinkles.

Previous experimental findings also indicate that creatine has protective effects on skin oxidative and UV damage. Experiments have shown that creatine can boost collagen synthesis which can increase skin firmness, enhance skin elasticity, and reduce fine lines. Several marketed facial creams and lotions also contain creatine to help fight signs of skin aging.

Can creatine make women gain weight?

Yes, creatine may lead to weight gain in women. However, creatine does not increase fat levels in the body because it does not have any calories.

The increase in weight is attributed to water retention or the capacity of creatine to help muscle store more water and the increased muscle mass, leading to increase in total kilogram body weight.

Meanwhile, women should not acquire too much weight from creatine supplementation. Since women don’t have significant testosterone levels, it is unlikely that females bulk up without high intensity muscular training.

How much creatine should women take?

As recommended by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, safe and effective dosage is in the range of 3 to 5 g of creatine per day.

They also recommend a creatine loading phase where one takes approximately 20 g of creatine for 5–7 days at the start of creatine intake to reach the muscle creatine threshold faster. This dose is typically divided into four or five 5 g servings throughout the day. Other experts point out that creatine loading is unnecessary unless you’re an athlete or you want faster results.

Meanwhile, depending on health goals or conditions being treated, optimal dosages may vary, so it’s best to consult your doctor for very specific health reasons.

What's the best type of creatine for women?

Several kinds of creatine forms are available in the market: creatine monohydrate, creatine ethyl ester, and creatine hydrochloride.

Research reveals that the most effective form of creatine is creatine monohydrate due to its higher capacity to increase muscle creatine and phosphocreatine concentrations by 15–40%, which allows higher muscular energy production.

Creatine supplements are usually taken in the form of a powder, capsule, or tablet. But most commonly, creatine supplements are more popular in powder form. It is tasteless and odorless which is mixed in water, juice, or smoothie for oral intake.

Can women use creatine while pregnant or breastfeeding?

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are not recommended to take creatine.

Due to lack of research and strong evidence, undesirable outcomes or potential effects on fetus and newborn are currently not established. It is advised to consult your doctor for any supplementary intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Can creatine cause side effects in women?

Like in any other supplement, safety and potential harms may exist. While creatine has a long history of safety, some people experience undesirable effects with supplementation and in combination with other medications.

Following the recommended dosages will help minimize any potential side effects. In case of an underlying medical condition, consult your primary care doctor especially when taking drugs to avoid adverse effects.

Side effects of creatine supplementation

Creatine is considered safe, and generally, there’s no major hazard for creatine supplementation when taken as directed. However, some women may experience undesirable effects that have been attributed to creatine supplementation, especially on non-standard dosages.

The following are purported creatine side effects:

  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Allergic reactions

Medicine interaction

Meanwhile, creatine may interact with some medications, including blood-thinning medications, analgesics, antivirals, antibiotics, and diuretics:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Cimetidine
  • Entecavir
  • Pemetrexed
  • Probenecid
  • Trimothoprim
Note
There are no established women-specific side effects that are notable. The severity and likelihood of experiencing side effects can vary depending on individual factors, such as age, overall health, and the amount and duration of creatine supplementation.

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