Creatine and Women
In their research paper, “Creatine Supplementation in Women’s Health: A Lifespan Perspective,” Abbie E Smith-Ryan, Hannah E Cabre, Joan M Eckerson, and Darren G Candow explore the use of creatine among females. They highlight the variations in creatine characteristics between males and females, emphasizing the lower endogenous creatine stores in women. The paper discusses the importance of creatine supplementation during different life stages, such as pre- and post-menopause, and its potential benefits for strength, exercise performance, skeletal muscle size, function, bone health, mood, and cognition in females. By providing insights into the effects and dosing strategies of creatine, the authors contribute to a better understanding of its use in improving female performance, body composition, and overall well-being throughout their lifespan.
What Do We Know?
The research focuses on exploring the effects of creatine supplementation in females across different life stages. They found that while dietary supplement use is common among educated women and increases with age, the understanding of creatine’s impact in females remains limited. Creatine, as a widely used dietary sports supplement, has various mechanisms that contribute to its ergogenic potential, which may differ between males and females. Females generally have lower endogenous creatine stores compared to males, suggesting the potential benefits of creatine supplementation to increase these levels. The researchers highlight the need for further investigation to better comprehend the effects of creatine in females and its potential metabolic, hormonal, and neurological benefits throughout their lifespan.
The researchers emphasize the impact of hormone-driven changes on female creatine metabolism during various reproductive stages. They highlight the overlooked implications of hormone-related alterations in creatine kinetics in performance studies. The menstrual cycle, pregnancy, post-partum, and menopause may influence creatine homeostasis due to cyclical sex hormone regulation. Further investigation is needed to understand the interplay between creatine metabolism, creatine kinase kinetics, and the menstrual and reproductive cycle, especially in females with low estrogen levels, amenorrhea, pregnancy, and menopausal transition.
Creatine has been found to be effective in enhancing strength, power, and athletic performance in women without significant changes in body weight. Concerns about weight gain or adverse effects associated with creatine use are largely unfounded, especially in women. Their research indicates that the benefits of creatine supplementation outweigh any potential risks, and it is considered safe when consumed in recommended doses. Creatine supplementation is particularly effective for high-intensity activities and can improve muscle mass, strength, and hypertrophy. Relative effects of creatine supplementation on exercise performance in females show improvements compared to a placebo group.
Body Composition and Strength Training
Creatine supplementation has been shown to significantly improve muscular strength and power in women, regardless of their training status. When combined with resistance training, creatine supplementation leads to greater increases in muscle strength compared to training alone. It also enhances muscular power without affecting body weight or muscle volume. Overall, the evidence suggests that creatine supplementation effectively increases strength and power in women, with minimal impact on body composition.
Research concludes creatine supplementation as being found to enhance both anaerobic and aerobic exercise performance in females. It helps prevent fatigue and studies have shown that creatine loading increases anaerobic working capacity and improves sprinting, jumping, and repeated sprint performance in physically active females. It may also have some benefits for endurance exercise, such as reducing oxygen consumption and delaying the onset of neuromuscular fatigue. While the effects on single sprint swim performance are inconclusive, creatine supplementation has shown improvements in repeated sprint performance and power output in swimming.
Overall, creatine supplementation appears to be an effective strategy for enhancing exercise performance in women.
During pregnancy, the creatine pool is reduced due to increased metabolic demand. Low creatine stores during pregnancy have been linked to low birth weight and pre-term birth. Animal studies suggest that creatine supplementation during pregnancy can enhance neuronal cell uptake of creatine and protect against brain injury caused by birth complications. Although human studies are lacking, creatine supplementation may be a safe and cost-effective approach to prevent complications related to cellular energy depletion during pregnancy.
Creatine supplementation may help mitigate the muscle and bone loss associated with menopause in post-menopausal women. It can reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and bone resorption while promoting bone formation and muscle integrity. Short-term high-dose creatine supplementation improves muscle strength and performance. When combined with resistance training, creatine supplementation enhances muscle mass, strength, and physical performance, although its effects on bone physiology are less conclusive.
The researchers, Abbie E Smith-Ryan, Hannah E Cabre, Joan M Eckerson, and Darren G Candow share that depression rates are higher among females, and hormonal milestones play a role in this. Dysfunctional creatine metabolism is linked to depression, and brain creatine levels affect neurotransmission and mood. Creatine supplementation can restore brain energy levels and homeostasis, benefiting individuals with depression. Females, who often have lower brain creatine levels, may experience greater benefits from supplementation. Combined with antidepressant medication, creatine supplementation reduces depressive symptoms and accelerates the effectiveness of treatment. Increasing creatine intake, either through diet or supplementation, is associated with a lower incidence of depression. This has particular relevance for females experiencing hormonal changes during puberty, post-partum, and menopause.
Brain Health and Sleep
According to the research, creatine supplementation supports ATP resynthesis in the brain, benefiting cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and cognition, particularly in tasks involving the frontal cortex. Brain creatine concentrations vary based on age, lifestyle, and diet, making creatine supplementation relevant for females throughout their lifespan. Research consistently shows that creatine supplementation improves cognitive performance, reduces mental fatigue, and enhances brain function in both healthy individuals and those with cognitive impairments.
It is especially beneficial for vegetarians and females experiencing stress and sleep deprivation, as it augments mental capacity and mitigates the adverse effects of sleep deprivation on cognition and sleep quality.
Dosing and Conclusion
Creatine supplementation offers significant benefits for females, considering changes in creatine homeostasis across different lifecycle stages, influenced by estrogen. Studies consistently show improvements in muscle and brain PCr levels, enhancing strength, exercise capacity, body composition, and bone mineral density, especially in post-menopausal females. It also positively impacts mood and cognition. Recommended dosages include a loading dose of 0.3 g∙day−1 for 5–7 days or a daily dose of 5 g for 4 weeks, with higher doses for brain saturation. Further research is needed to explore creatine’s effects throughout the menstrual cycle and its potential across the lifespan.
Read the full article here: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/3/877