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Can Children Take Creatine? Ask your questions about the topic

The search for a healthier life and regular physical exercise have become very present in modern society. In this scenario, the dietary supplements market is growing exponentially, offering various products designed to improve athletic and muscular performance. One of the most famous is creatine.

A substance naturally produced by the body, creatine plays a fundamental role in energy production during high-intensity activities. The benefits of its supplementation in adults are related to increased strength, power, and muscle mass. But can children take creatine?

The participation of children under 18 in sporting competitions has raised questions about the safety and effectiveness of sports supplementation of the substance in this age group. 

Even health professionals who are responsible for guiding parents and coaches on the subject wonder what the real benefits and risks associated with the use of creatine for children would be.

Decision-making, of course, must be based on scientific evidence, and this content intends to contribute to the debate in a purely informative way. Read the article to understand:

  1. how creatine acts in the body;

  2. if a child can take creatine;

  3. what is the appropriate creatine dosage for teenagers;

  4. what are the limits of creatine supplementation;

  5. clinical practice related to this topic.

Attention: This content is aimed at healthcare professionals. Suppose you are a layman interested in the subject. Be it a parent, coach, or curious person, never conduct a supplementation protocol on yourself or a child without specialized guidance.

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How creatine acts in the body

As stated in the introduction to the text, creatine is a substance naturally produced by the human body from synthesizing specific amino acids. It is stored in the body, especially in skeletal muscle tissues, functioning as a reserve of quick and available energy for the muscles — hence its role in high-intensity activities, acting to regenerate the adenosine triphosphate molecule responsible for the immediate supply of energy. 

When it is supplemented, creatine is absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and, through the bloodstream, is transported to the muscles to increase this reserve and help prolong maximum performance during sports.

In addition, creatine exerts anabolic effects on the body, increasing protein synthesis in muscles, promoting water retention in cells, and improving the hydration of muscle tissues. These effects also result in strength gains, increased muscle mass, and improved athletic performance in high-intensity activities.

Can children take creatine?

Given all the beneficial effects mentioned, there is great interest among parents, coaches, and health professionals regarding the question of whether children can take creatine.

We use the scientific article Creatine Supplementation in Children as a Basis and Adolescents by Andrew R. Jagim and Chad M. Kerksick, published in 2021, to discuss the subject.

The study considered individuals between 0 and 12 years of age as children and concluded that in the pediatric population, there is strong evidence that creatine supplementation provides several therapeutic benefits. The main one is to aid in treating neuromuscular disorders and metabolic imbalances.

Some creatine metabolism disorders, such as guanidinoacetate methyltransferase and arginine glycine amidinotransferase deficiencies, are considered responsible for failures in brain creatine synthesis. 

According to research, in 1996, a pediatric patient with one of the presented deficiencies was treated by his medical team based on creatine replacement therapy over 25 months. As a result, a substantial clinical improvement was noted from the perception via MRI of the normalization of brain activities and improvement in encephalogram readings.

What is the appropriate creatine dosage for teenagers

And as a teenager, can you take creatine? All studies carried out to date in people in this age group have aimed to examine the effects of supplementation on swimming and football athletes.

Three are developed from daily doses of 21g for nine days, 20g for five days, and another 20g for four days.

Another two studies applied the load and maintenance method, which consists of 5 days with 20g daily supplementation, followed by 20 days with 5g daily supplementation. Then, four days of 25g a day and 5g daily for two months.

In most studies, it was possible to observe an improvement in performance in almost all aspects analyzed during the first days of supplementation. During the maintenance period, no difference was noticed. 

However, it is essential to highlight that studies in the area are still scarce, and deeper investigations into the effectiveness of creatine supplementation in this population are still needed. 

Limits of safe creatine supplementation

According to studies, short- or long-term creatine supplementation, as long as it respects the limits of up to 30g per day for five years, does not lead to any harmful effects in healthy individuals.

Therefore, the quickest method of increasing muscle creatine stores is to follow the following recommendation:

  1. consume 0.3g per kilo per day for 5 to 7 days;

  2. after this period, drink 3 to 5g daily to maintain a high supply.

If intake is lower, between 3 and 5g per day, stocks will only be maintained for 3 to 4 weeks.

Clinical practice

Although not widely studied, creatine supplementation in children and adolescents is effective in performing and treating neuromuscular and metabolic disorders. 

Therefore, creatine monohydrate supplemented in the short or long term (up to 30g/day for five years) does not harm healthy individuals, whether children or adults. However, it is worth highlighting that, due to the lack of studies on this population, more research is needed to obtain more concrete information.

Now that you've reached the end of this article, please take the opportunity also to read our content about children and adolescents in sport and understand the point of view of the benefits or risks for the development of the organism.

Bibliographic References

Watch Carol Romeiro's talk on the Science Play platform: Intestinal Microbiota in Childhood and Adolescence< /a>

Article Creatine in Adolescents: Jagim AR, Kerksick CM. Creatine Supplementation in Children and Adolescents. Nutrients. 2021;13(2):664. Published 2021 Feb 18. doi:10.3390/nu13020664

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