Objective: To examine the effect of creatine supplementation on renal function and estimates of creatinine clearance.
Data sources: A MEDLINE search was conducted (1966-September 2004) using the key terms creatine, creatinine, kidney function tests, drug toxicity, and exercise. Relevant articles were cross-referenced to screen for additional information.
Data synthesis: Supplementation with creatine, an unregulated dietary substance, is increasingly common in young athletes. To date, few studies have evaluated the impact of creatine on renal function and estimates of creatinine clearance. Because creatine is converted to creatinine in the body, supplementation with large doses of creatine may falsely elevate creatinine concentrations. Five studies have reported measures of renal function after acute creatine ingestion and 4 after chronic ingestion. All of these studies were completed in young healthy populations. Following acute ingestion (4-5 days) of large amounts of creatine, creatinine concentrations increased slightly, but not to a clinically significant concentration. Creatinine is also only minimally affected by longer creatine supplementation (up to 5.6 y).
Conclusions: Creatine supplementation minimally impacts creatinine concentrations and renal function in young healthy adults. Although creatinine concentrations may increase after long periods of creatine supplementation, the increase is extremely limited and unlikely to affect estimates of creatinine clearance and subsequent dosage adjustments. Further studies are required in the elderly and patients with renal insufficiency.