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Can creatine supplements help build muscle strength now that I'm older?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Creatine is a natural substance, largely found in muscle, that's sold as a supplement. There's some evidence that it can help young athletes build muscle mass and improve athletic performance that requires short bursts of muscle activity, such as sprinting. For that reason, it is banned by some, but not by all, sports organizations.

However, there is little evidence that it can build muscle bulk or strength in older adults like you. Some small studies have suggested that it might be helpful for those with a few diseases that afflict older people, such as heart failure and Parkinson's disease.

In my judgment, there is currently no convincing evidence of adverse effects from doses that the manufacturers recommend, which are typically 2 to 3 grams per day. However, there are very few studies of sufficient size and duration to be confident about this. Note also that the FDA does not regulate the manufacturing of supplements as it does prescription drugs. So even if the creatine itself is fine, the other substances used to create a tablet or capsule could contain impurities.

I think there's little, if any, evidence that creatine supplements could help you build or maintain muscle strength at your age, and, because of the lack of regulation of supplements, there is some potential for harm. I wish there were more solid information, but there isn't. For now, to be on the safe side, I'd advise against taking creatine.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.