The commercialization of many sports have drawn a wider pool of athletes from across the world and thus raised the level of competitiveness and athleticism that is required to play collegiate and professional sports. Physical, psychological, and nutritional components are all avenues that have become vital for the improved performance that is needed to meet these competitive demands. Nutritional supplements have become a billion-dollar industry. Creatine monohydrate is a supplement that has become one of the largest selling supplements in recent years due to its availability and low cost. Many athletes have used creatine for its acclaimed benefits despite the fact these benefits have yet to be clinically proven time and again by laboratory tests. Studies involving athletes from such sports as swimming, rowing, track and field, cycling, and football have shown results both for and against creatine supplementation. The intent of this paper is to analyze the current literature and to outline the possible benefits and side effects of creatine supplementation.
Scientists discovered creatine, also known as N-amidinosarcosine, in 1832 (1). Ninety-five percent of the creatine found in the body is in the skeletal muscles (5,6,7). The remainder is mostly found in the heart, brain, and testes (1). There are two forms of creatine found in the body. Two-thirds is found as creatine phosphate, while the remaining one-third is exists as free creatine (5). There is three to four times the amount of creatine phosphate in resting muscle as compared to ATP (5, 7, 11). The ATP-PC system provides the body with energy for short duration, high intensity exercise. ATP is the energy provider for all cells in the body (2,4,6,9,11,12,13). PCr functions in the muscle to buffer a drop in ATP concentration (1,4,5,6,7,9,11,12,13). PCr transfers its high energy phosphate unit to ADP to reform ATP as follows (4,5 12):.