Creatine supplements have gained a lot of popularity in recent years, especially with body builders and other athletes involved in all sorts of competitive sporting activities.
Creatine is really a protein building block and is a naturally occurring amino acid found mainly in muscles. About a third of the creatine in our bodies is in pure form while the rest is mixed with phosphate in our bodies and is called creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine. When the body performs high-intensity short duration exercise like weight lifting or sprinting, phosphocreatine is broken down into creatine and phosphate. The energy released during this process is used to regenerate ATP which is a major source of energy within the body which drives protein production, muscle contraction and a number of other biological processes. All this can be greatly enhanced by taking creatine supplements.
The reason why creatine supplements are so popular is that it is believed to enhance athletic performance, especially the ones involving high-intensity short bursts of energy or activity. Sporting activities like weight lifting and body building, as well as high jumping quickly come to mind.
The effectiveness of creatine supplements in giving an athlete a huge advantage over other competitors not taking the supplement seems to be confirmed by the fact that its use is controversial and prohibited in competitive sports by many athletic and sporting organizations.
Some initial studies have also suggested that the fact that creatine supplements seem to increase muscle mass and strength and could hold the key to healing muscle weaknesses associated with various neuromuscular disorders. Neuromuscular disorders are conditions characterized by muscle weakness and wasting. This could be caused by a problem in the muscles or as a consequence of a dysfunction of the nerves responsible for muscular movement.
Other preliminary studies suggest that creatine supplements could lower cholesterol levels in people with abnormally high concentrations of lipids (cholesterol in their blood. Other areas where preliminary studies have suggested that creatine supplements may be of great benefit is in people suffering from congestive heart failure, and in aiding faster recovery after brain injury from trauma and in helping rheumatoid arthritis patients.
However like everything else, creatine supplements have side effects and should be taken under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare expert. Possible side effects of creatine supplements includes but is not limited to muscle cramps, muscle strains, stomach upset, diarrhea, dizziness, high blood pressure, liver dysfunction and kidney damage.
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