In everyday situations, people are pushed to be better at what they do. No matter the environment, may it be working at a mall, hospital, or as a police officer, they are always told to do better.
However, the most targeted people in today?s society are athletes. They are one or the highest paid people in the work force for their skill at winning.
Supplementing in sport creates a lot of income for companies that sell them (Beduschi, 2003). Athletes have it hard in getting pushed to perform better than the person next to him or her.
That is where health supplement come into play, guaranteeing them that they will be better than their opposing players. Products such as creatine, hydroxymethlybutyrate (HMB), steroids, human growth hormone (HGH), and protein shakes are a small number of things taken out of a huge list of performance enhancing substances.
Some of these substances are considered illegal along with some that are not. The biggest one to be used in athletic performance and is legal is creatine.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in the human body. In 1835 it was discovered in France by scientist (Likness, 2005). The liver, pancreas, and kidneys synthesize creatine from three amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine (Jenkins, 1998 & Likness, 2005).
What makes creatine an effective athletic supplement is the phosphocreatine it has on its molecular structure. To understand how creatine works within the body we must look at how ATP is used in muscles.
ATP is one of the limiting factors in muscle contraction strength. A muscle is composed of actin and myosin. When a contraction occurs, actin and myosin slide on one
another to create a contraction.
For this to happen a nerve stimulus must be felt by the muscle cell. When a stimulus is acting on a muscle cell, the nerve to the muscle releases calcium. Calcium simply diffuses into muscle cells. It plays a big role in muscle contraction due to the fact actin has blockers on it that keep the myosin head from bonding to it.
Actin is lined with products called tropomyosin and on tropomyosin there are points of attachments that is blocked by a molecules called troponin. Calcium in a muscle cells allows the bonding between actin and myosin due to the fact that calcium removes those troponin blockers on tropomyosin.
There is not much study however, on how exactly calcium removes that inhibition (Saladin, 2007). For contraction to begin an ATP molecule must be bound to the myosin head. ATP is then converted to ADP + Pi by myosin ATPase. This process gets the myosin ready to be contracted into its original position.
The prepared myosin head is put into place on the sites on the actin filament. When the muscle contracts the myosin head tilts back to its original position while giving off an ADP and a Pi molecule. With the bonding of another ATP molecule the bondage between actin and myosin is released. Therefore, the whole process can be done again.
The main reason creatine is such a good athletic supplement is for the phosphocreatine that it has. When creatine is at the sight at which many ATP molecules are being used, creatine donates its phosphate to ADP to change it back to ATP (Jenkins, 1998).
Thus, in turn it helps to keep the ATP at a sufficient level while other ATP is being made from other mechanisms within the body (Saladin, 2007). As well, with the production creatine has on ATP molecules it also bring water along with it into muscle cells.
However, it is not well known how creatine causes water retention in muscle cells (Beduschi, 2003).
How to take Creatine
Creatine can be bought at any super market, health store, and supplement store. It can be bought in three forms; it being in pills, powder form, or liquid. Liquid form is not readily available to the public due to more steps in refining creatine.
The more surface area creatine has in its many forms the faster it can be absorbed into the blood stream and cells. Therefore, all who use it would favor creatine as a liquid form. There are two phases of creatine supplementation.
They are ?loading phase? and ?maintenance phase? (Likness, 2005). Loading phase consists of saturating the muscles with creatine by recommending supplementing about 20 grams for five to seven days (Likness, 2005). As for maintenance phase three to five grams should be consumed (Greenwood, Kreider, Rasmussen, Almada, & Earnest, 2001}.
Insulin plays a big role with the absorption of creatine due to creatine needing insulin to get into the cells (Jackson & Stoppani, 2007). The best way to do this is to take a protein shake with every dose of creatine to spike insulin levels up (Jackson, 2007).
However, a new way of looking at how to take creatine has been created. They look at taking creatine with kilograms (kg) of weight. Therefore loading phase is 0.3 grams per kg of body weight five to seven day and maintenance phase is 0.03 grams per kg of body weight for the rest of time supplementing (Likness, 2005).
Having creatine in your muscles while exercising enables a athlete to do more work due to the fast mechanism of changing ADP to useable ATP.
Effects of Creatine
Creatine is said to have dangerous side effects, but as some studies show (Health and Fitness Solutions), there are only minor side effects with the use of creatine and the side effects also vary from individual to individual.
There are many people however who use creatine in their daily routine and for the people who use it many effects positive effects can occur.
People take creatine even though there is creatine in red meat, you would have to eat 5 pounds of it raw to get a good dose from it. Creatine and ATP work together because creatine helps in restoring ATP in order for the body to have energy. ?
When you supplement with creatine you supply your muscles with more of the raw materials essential to the production of ATP but this does not lead to negative side effects?(Health and Fitness Solutions).
Getting into what ATP does in the body, it is basically what allows your body to work properly, and you use ATP when you perform short term, intensive physical activities such as weight lifting and sprints. The great thing about creatine is that anyone can use it that exercises, not just body builders and weight lifters.
The list below from ?Health and Fitness Solutions? describes some points about the positive effects of Creatine:
?An increase in strength and more energy for your body building, weight lifting, cardio workouts.
?Your lean muscle tissue will become fuller and larger, especially on a weight lifting program for size and strength which is partly due to water retention in the muscles and an actual gain in lean muscle mass.
?Less pain and discomfort during your workout, due to normally a build up of lactic acid.
?A reduction in body fat due to increase work output.
?Improved athletic performance.
?May help in diseases including: Parkinson?s, Huntington?s.
?It may reduce cholesterol, improve heart functions, and boost energy.
Even though there are many positive effects to using creatine as a supplement, there are some side effects coming with it, however they are only minor and change from person to person. Supplementation that is short-term and been deemed to have no major health effects (Beduschi, 2003).
The proper wording for the side effects is creatine monohydrate side effects. These effects include; cramps, muscle spasms, dehydration, kidney damage, and even pulled muscles (Beduschi, 2003).
However, people who take high doses for a long-term of creatine along with loading the effects have yet to be found (Beduschi, 2003). As explained earlier, the notion that there will be serious side effects with creatine has been overcome by studies, which now say that there are only minor side effects that come with supplementing with this substance.
Although these studies are short-term, there are still no long-term studies of the effects of creatine presently.
People Who Use Creatine
There are many people who can use creatine and who should not. Body builders and weight lifters are thought to be the only ones who use creatine, but what is not known is that anybody who exercises may use creatine.
Some people actually do not respond to supplementing to creatine due to the fact they already have high amounts in their systems (Jackson & Stoppani, 2007). In athletes, creatine can increase energy, strength, and the ability to do more due to the increased ATP restoring from creatine.
Creatine is usually used to conjunction with high intense short term activities such as; football, weight lifting, and sports consisting of jumping. There is no reason for inactive people to supplement creatine largely due to that there is no need for a fast mechanism like creatine in the body.
It is also said that 50% of football players and 25% of baseball players use some form of creatine (Mayoclinic, 2006}. Taking into consideration that number and multiplying by the number of high school athletes, this adds up to a lot of people using this supplement.
Main reasons student athletes take creatine is parental pressure, physiological reasons, and wanting to do better. There is a lot of pressure on teens to perform well in sport especially from their parents.
Their parents can often bring them down when they lose that playoff game or even do not perform well enough to their standards. Since creatine is available to anyone with money it can be easily purchased no matter the age.
Any super market contains a section of dietary supplements and creatine always on the shelf ready to be bought and used. Along with pressure there are physiological reasons as well. Many teens in high school are seen with articles of bodybuilding with men being six feet tall weighting in around 200 pounds.
Teens see this as every girl?s dreams and they take supplement such as creatine to get like them. Creatine is one of the products shown off in body building magazines (Beduschi, 2003) and alongside it there are the men with bulging muscles testifying the unreal results creatine gives.
For me I was one of those teenagers that looked in those body building magazines hoping to get their bodies that everyone wanted. I took creatine for quite some time when working out just to look good, gain those extra pounds, and inches on my arms.
It was hard for me because I believed that 22-inch arms were what everyone wanted to see on a guy. Advertising and the media play with young minds in manipulating them that it is all right to take these substances saying that there is no health risk.
I believed this crap by taking creatine, protein shakes, and HMB in my house baseball season. House baseball games are what we are talking about here. Where the games did not matter and the chances of you being scouted from house was zero percent.
I took these dietary substances to look good and perform to the best of my ability. However, since I have become more knowledgeable and mature with time, I realize this regime of taking these things daily is not for me. Hard work, dedication, and patience are what an athlete needs to be truly successful in his or her career.
For an 18 year old male to say that is something. Now try getting a bodybuilder who is taking steroids to say that along with other people who have seen the positive effects of creatine.
All in all creatine is a very good supplement for someone to use who is looking for that extra boost in their performance. With its fast mechanism of changing ADP to ATP, water retention, very few side effects, and being legal any athlete should consider taking creatine.
In a sporting atmosphere creatine would be a huge factor to be used by any athlete to gain a competitive advantage on their opponents and teammates.
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Health & Fitness Solutions (n.d.) Creatine Side Effects, Are There Any Negeative, Creatine Side Effects and What is True About the Effectiveness of Creatine?
Jackson, D., & Stoppani, J. (2007, June). Supplements for Skeptics
Joe Weider?s Muscle & Fitness, 68(6), 206-210. Retrieved February 24, 2008,
Jenkins, A. M. (1998) Creatine Supplementation in Athletes: Review
Likness, J. (2005, September 05). All About Creatine
MayoClinic (2006, May 1} Creatine
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New York: McGraw-Hill