Effects of creatine use on the athlete's kidney

Curr Sports Med Rep. 2002 Apr;1(2):103-6. doi: 10.1249/00149619-200204000-00007.


With regard to athletes attempting to improve their performance, at the present time creatine monohydrate is clearly the most widely used dietary supplement or ergogenic aid. Loading doses as high as 20 g/d are typical among athletes. The majority (> 90%) of the creatine ingested is removed from the plasma by the kidney and excreted in the urine. Despite relatively few isolated reports of renal dysfunction in persons taking creatine, the studies completed to date suggest that in normal healthy individuals the kidneys are able to excrete creatine, and its end product creatinine, in a manner that does not adversely alter renal function. This situation would be predicted to be different in persons with impaired glomerular filtration or inherent renal disease. The question of whether long-term creatine supplementation (ie, months to years) has any deleterious affects on renal structure or function can not be answered at this time. The limited number of studies that have addressed the issue of the chronic use of creatine have not seen remarkable changes in renal function. However, physicians should be aware that the safety of long-term creatine supplementation, in regard to the effects on the kidneys, cannot be guaranteed. More information is needed on possible changes in blood pressure, protein/albumin excretion, and glomerular filtration in athletes who are habitual users of this compound.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Creatine / metabolism
  • Creatine / pharmacology*
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Doping in Sports / methods*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Kidney / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Models, Animal
  • Rats
  • Renal Insufficiency / chemically induced


  • Creatinine
  • Creatine