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Creatinine

Creatinine is a metabolic byproduct of creatine, and is sometimes used as a biomarker for kidney damage as it can accumulate when kidneys are impaired (despite creatine supplementation giving a false positive).

Our evidence-based analysis on creatinine features 24 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel.
All content reviewed by the Examine.com Team. Published: Jul 5, 2013
Last Updated:

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Frequently Asked Questions about Creatinine

Is creatine safe for your kidneys?
In people with healthy kidneys, long-term creatine supplementation is safe, but there are no long-term creatine studies in people with kidney issues. For these people, using a low dose of creatine (if any) would be prudent.

Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect creatinine
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a Notable Moderate See all 12 studies
Creatine supplementation usually increases serum creatinine levels during the loading phase (but usually not during maintenance), since creatinine is the breakdown product of creatine. This is not indicative of kidney damage.
grade-b - Very High See all 3 studies
No known influence on creatinine, a biomarker for kidney health.
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in creatinine has been noted alongside weight loss; practical significance of this information is not known.

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References

  1. Brosnan JT, Brosnan ME. Creatine: endogenous metabolite, dietary, and therapeutic supplement. Annu Rev Nutr. (2007)
  2. Braissant O, et al. Creatine deficiency syndromes and the importance of creatine synthesis in the brain. Amino Acids. (2011)
  3. Samra M, Abcar AC. False estimates of elevated creatinine. Perm J. (2012)
  4. Baxmann AC, et al. Influence of muscle mass and physical activity on serum and urinary creatinine and serum cystatin C. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. (2008)
  5. Morton RW, et al. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med. (2018)
  6. Sahni S, et al. Higher Protein Intake Is Associated with Higher Lean Mass and Quadriceps Muscle Strength in Adult Men and Women. J Nutr. (2015)
  7. Alexandrov NV, et al. Dietary Protein Sources and Muscle Mass over the Life Course: The Lifelines Cohort Study. Nutrients. (2018)
  8. Williamson L, New D. How the use of creatine supplements can elevate serum creatinine in the absence of underlying kidney pathology. BMJ Case Rep. (2014)
  9. McCall W, Persky AM. Pharmacokinetics of creatine. Subcell Biochem. (2007)
  10. Poortmans JR, Francaux M. Adverse effects of creatine supplementation: fact or fiction?. Sports Med. (2000)
  11. Farquhar WB, Zambraski EJ. Effects of creatine use on the athlete's kidney. Curr Sports Med Rep. (2002)
  12. Pline KA, Smith CL. The effect of creatine intake on renal function. Ann Pharmacother. (2005)
  13. Francaux M, Poortmans JR. Side effects of creatine supplementation in athletes. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. (2006)
  14. Persky AM, Rawson ES. Safety of creatine supplementation. Subcell Biochem. (2007)
  15. Kim HJ, et al. Studies on the safety of creatine supplementation. Amino Acids. (2011)
  16. Gualano B, et al. In sickness and in health: the widespread application of creatine supplementation. Amino Acids. (2012)
  17. Kreider RB, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2017)
  18. Ropero-Miller JD, et al. Effect of oral creatine supplementation on random urine creatinine, pH, and specific gravity measurements. Clin Chem. (2000)
  19. Poortmans JR, Francaux M. Long-term oral creatine supplementation does not impair renal function in healthy athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (1999)
  20. Mihic S, et al. Acute creatine loading increases fat-free mass, but does not affect blood pressure, plasma creatinine, or CK activity in men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2000)
  21. Gualano B, et al. Effect of short-term high-dose creatine supplementation on measured GFR in a young man with a single kidney. Am J Kidney Dis. (2010)
  22. Gualano B, et al. Creatine supplementation does not impair kidney function in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Eur J Appl Physiol. (2011)
  23. Taes YE, et al. Creatine supplementation does not decrease total plasma homocysteine in chronic hemodialysis patients. Kidney Int. (2004)
  24. Shelmadine BD, Hudson GM, Buford TW et al.. The effects of supplementation of creatine on total homocysteine. J Ren Nurs.. (2012)