Creatine- The Supplement Essay, Research Paper
May 5, 1999
Question: Should creatine be legal?
Title: Creatine: The legal supplement
A. Background on Creatine
a. Beginning of supplementation
B. Problem: Should creatine be categorized as a drug or a dietary supplement?
A. Positives of Creatine
1. Bigger Bodies and Stronger Muscles
2. Better than Steroids
B. Negatives of Creatine
2. Dangers of the unknown
C. Supporters/Opposers of Creatine
A. Summary of Important facts
B. My opinion
IV. Works Cited
Creatine: The legal supplement
Creatine monohydrate is a natural weightlifting supplement. It is currently the hottest selling body building product on the market (Mathas 1). Ten years ago supplements consisted of only protein, carbohydrate powders, vitamins, and minerals (Phillips 3). In 1985, Engineered Foods, creatine, Phosphagen, vanadyl, OKG, AKG, Glutamine and other popular supplements of today were unheard of (Phillips 4). When steroids were wiped out there was a huge void left in it’s place. There was a demand for something to get the extra edge that was received from steroids. This demand attracted the scientific community in the pursuit of non-pharmaceutical agents that would increase muscle building abilities and fat lose (Phillips 4).
The advancements in supplementation have been remarkable. Over the past 10 years the use of supplements has risen greatly, and the use of steroids has dropped in proportion with that rise (Phillips 3). Today creatine is available at any drug store or pharmacy without a prescription (Jeansonne 1). It is available in several forms; powder, pills, gel, liquid, and even candy (Jeansonne 2). Creatine is now even available in two different forms; creatine monohydrate and creatine phosphate (Stout 1). Bill Phillips, executive editor of Muscle Media 2000, believes that by the year 2005 people will be able to equal if not exceed what is reached now through the best steroids, and that these “miracle” products will be used by everyone (Phillips 4). He also states that in the future supplements will work through regulation of amino acid turnover in muscle cells and will regulate insulin production and stability (Phillips 4). All of these possible advancements will increase the already advancing field of supplementation.
Creatine is naturally produced in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas in various amounts (Schrof 2). Creatine is produced through the breakdown of amino acids (Jeansonne 5). It is found in muscle tissues of animals (Jeansonne 5). The daily requirement of creatine for the human body is 2 grams which is supplied by fish or red meats (Schrof 2). There are two forms of creatine. One form of creatine is synthetic creatine, or creatine monohydrate (Stout 1). The other form of creatine is creatine phosphate, which is how creatine is stored in the muscles (Stout 1).
Creatine is used by muscle cells to store energy for explosive exertion, such as sprinting and weight lifting (Jeansonne 5). Creatine helps fuel the muscle contractions by replenishing ATP or adenosine triphosphate (Schrof 2). Today creatine is the most effective supplement on the market for building muscle and increasing speed (Stout 1). Creatine allows the body to train at higher levels of intensity which in the long run will lead to greater gains in muscularity, endurance, and power (Stout 1). Past a certain point, most athletes will not experience performance benefits, this is where creatine comes into play (Duchaine 3). To notice results, Dan Duchaine, a foremost fitness expert, suggest experimenting with supplements one at a time and take the supplement as directed (Duchaine 3).
The major controversy over creatine is its safety. This raises the question, should creatine be available without specific restrictions? Many people feel as though creatine should not be legal because it can have various negative effects, if it is abused or taken in the wrong amounts, just like a drug. This is why some coaches and doctors feel so strongly about the safety of creatine with their players and patients and insist upon monitoring the usage of the supplement. On the other hand, creatine is not a drug at all (Mathas 1). It is a combination of several amino acids that cause the muscles to become stronger and more explosive (Mathas 1). These facts also raise the question; Should creatine be categorized as a drug or a dietary supplement?
Positives of Creatine
The Positives of using creatine are fairly obvious. Creatine allows the body to complete more intense workouts which, in the long run, will increase muscle size and strength (Jeansonne 5). The extra reps or stair climbs creatine allows for weight lifters and runners means added brawn and bulk. It is one of the reasons why football players are stronger and faster than ever. The weight gains, while using creatine, can be astounding. In a few months of using creatine at the recommended daily dose of 10 grams, it is not unlikely for someone to gain 20-30 pounds (Schrof 3). This amazing weight gain is due to the fact that one pound of creatine equals the amount of protein found in 100 pounds of red meat (Schrof 3).
“You won’t just feel bigger, stronger, and more muscular due to the power of suggestion implanted in your head through advertising and product claims. You will actually be bigger, stronger, and more muscular (Mathas 1).”
Another positive of creatine and other body building supplements is that the take away from the use of steroids. Creatine provides the same result of steroids, at a cheaper price and a less risky situation (Jeansonne 4). With steroids there is the great risk of liver damage, other health problems, and over aggression, or “roid rage” (Jeansonne 3). With creatine, on the other hand, there is no such proof of these ailments (Jeansonne 3).
Negatives of Creatine
One of the biggest risks, physicians say, is the risk of overdosing or “megadosing” (Schrof 3). When one overdoses the kidneys become stressed from eliminating the excess waste material (Schrof 3). Brady Anderson of the Baltimore Orioles has admitted to taking ten times the recommended daily dose (Schrof 3). Another baseball star Derek Bell of the Houston Astros was hospitalized twice in one year for severe kidney ailments, which he blames on creatine (Schrof 3). A similar practice which produces a big risk is “polypharmacy” or “stacking”, which is the combining of muscle building agents and prescription drugs (Jeansonne 3). Some of the immediate dangers associated with excess testosterone are acne, fits of rage, baldness, stunting of growth, interrupted puberty, sterility, and the development of breasts in men (Schrof 2). The long term dangers of taking testosterone in excess are liver disease, cancer, and heart problems (Schrof 2). Also, because creatine is a diuretic substance, taking it in an excess is likely to cause cramping, nausea, and diarrhea (Schrof 3).
Most of the fears about creatine come from the unknown factors. These unknown factors about creatine come from the lack of long range studies on the substance (Jeansonne 3). None of the studies on creatine have measured it’s effects for more than three months, and most of the studies have been financed by supplement manufacturing companies (Schrof 3). The unknown possible dangers of creatine also scare consumers. Some believe the maturing systems in younger people could be permanently messed up by the use of such products as creatine (Jeansonne 4). Dr. Gary Wadler, an expert in sports medicine stated, “If taken long enough ones own mechanism of producing creatine may stop, and we don’t know if that would be reversible (Jeansonne 5).” Another troubling aspect of the unknowns of creatine is the fact that athletes, pros down to kids, are unlikely to question professionals about the effects of creatine
(Jeansonne 3). Instead they are apt to trust the advice of their peers (Jeansonne 3).
Bob Reese, a sports medicine consultant, says “I tell anyone who asks me about its safety, ‘We don’t know.’ I tell them to be careful, that they’re probably not going to get into trouble if they follow the directions. Maybe there is no downside…..(Jeansonne 3).”
Supporters/Opposers of Creatine
Many athletes feel that when they take creatine, they experience only positive results. Numerous professionals athletes also support the use of creatine. Of 71 pro sport teams, including the MLB, the NFL, the NBA, and the NHL, 25 officially provide creatine or approve of their players using it (Jeansonne 1). Many college and high school athletes also approve of the supplement. Out of 14,000 college athletes, one third of them use creatine (Schrof 2). NCAA football powerhouse Nebraska has encouraged the use of creatine for years (Jeansonne1). Shannon Sharpe, a Denver Broncos tight end, feels that he has gotten stronger and faster than ever while using creatine (Jeansonne 1). Many baseball stars also endorse the product of creatine. Sixty percent of all MLB players currently use creatine (Schrof 2). Baseball stars Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa both swear by the product, as does Brady Anderson of the Baltimore Orioles (Schrof 2).
Many pills and supplements have been introduced that claim to increase the performance of an athlete. When a product is released to the public, the following claims are usually made: enhanced performance, increased strength, and instant results. When people start spending their money on new products, such as creatine, experts start questioning and testing the product. There are currently debate centers set up around the world discussing whether creatine should be considered a vitamin supplement or a drug (Jeansonne 2). The American College of Sports Medicine reported, “More research is needed on Creatine’s long range effects and its reaction with other muscle building supplements (Jeansonne 2).” Although many coaches and athletes support the use of such supplements as creatine, there are those who rebuke the use of these supplements. Despite the number of professional sports teams who approve or provide creatine for their teams, there are those teams that object to the use of creatine by their players. Also, many doctors have scolded the use of creatine because they fear its long term effects.
The information that I have provided has given both sides of the story on creatine. Various supporters of the product of creatine have been mentioned as well as those who oppose it. The positive effects while using creatine such as the increase of muscle mass, bursts of energy, and weight gain have also been presented. Along with the positive effects, I gave you negative effects of using creatine as well. Some of these negative effects include dehydration, diarrhea, and cramping. I have also offered various quotes to support each side of my topic.
In my opinion, I am totally for the use of creatine as a body building supplement. The fact that creatine is a substance naturally produced in the body has helped to sway my decision. Another fact that helped me in deciding on whether or not creatine should be a legal supplement was that as of yet, there is no proof that creatine is dangerous to the human body. I have also had personal experience with the substance of creatine that has helped me in my decision. Over last summer I encountered the supplement creatine. I was beginning weight training with my cousin and we decided to try some supplements. We came across a product know as Phosphogen, which is a type of creatine. It was one of the only of the only supplements that gave a logical explanation on why their product worked. After a few weeks of hard workouts and the intake of Phosphogen, my cousin and I noticeably felt ourselves getting bigger and stronger. Also, during this time I experienced only positive effects. With all these facts combined I have come to the conclusion that creatine should remain legal as a natural body building supplement.
Creatine: The legal supplement
May 5, 1999
Duchaine, Dan. “Ask the Guru.” Muscle Media 2000 Sept. 1995: 1-3.
Jeansonne, John. “Worth the Weight?” Newsday 26 July 1998: 1-8.
Mathas, Jason. “Recreating Creatine.” Pump Oct. 1998: 1-4.
Phillips, Bill. “No Holds Barred!” Muscle Media 2000 Sept. 1995: 1-5.
Schrof, Joamie M. “McGwire Hits the Pills.” U.S. News & World Report Sept. 1998: 1-4.
Stout, Jeffrey R. “Pulse.” Pump Oct/Nov. 1998: 1-4.