March 15, 2012

Anti-Aging Formula: Creatine plus Barbells

Creatine Monohydrate used to be a hot item of discussion for weight training bloggers, in health food stores, and in between sets at the gym. When it was revealed some years ago that many big time athletes were also big time steroid users, the term substance abuse became part of our national lexicon. And sometimes when substance abuse got mentioned in the news, creatine would be included on the reporter's list of illegal and/or dangerous substances. But creatine was not and is not illegal; it is not a steroid, and it is not related to steroids.

We don't hear as much about it anymore, but recently a couple of readers mentioned using creatine. I had practically forgotten that its safety and legality were ever in question. The mostly unwarranted controversy had been put to rest and it seems lots of people are still using it. I got curious and looked back in the newsletter archives for something I wrote three years ago. It follows:

Creatine monohydrate has been around the bodybuilding world and athletics for many years now. It is one of a few supplements that so far as we know is both safe, when taken in appropriate amounts, and actually does what is claimed.

Athletes have used it because it helps in their ability to perform short bursts of speed and power and to develop strength and muscle when coupled with resistance exercise.

I used creatine for awhile several years ago and became somewhat stronger in most exercises. My muscles also felt fuller. So I have to say that it worked as promised and there were no negative side effects. When I wrote about creatine in Living the Fitness Lifestyle, I said that I had stopped taking it for two reasons:

1) Because the long-term effects are still unknown;

2) adding additional bulk at my age was no longer a priority with me, even if that bulk was muscle.

Recently, I came across the following report in Science Daily. It is from a 2007 double blind study on creatine. It follows:

"Creatine In Addition To Exercise Enhances Strength In Older Adults

"While exercise is a proven way to prevent the loss of muscle mass, a new study led by McMaster researcher Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky shows that taking a combination of creatine monohydrate (CrM) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in addition to resistance exercise training provides even greater benefits.

"The study to be published on Oct. 3 in PLoS One, involved 19 men and 20 women who were 65 years or older and took part in a six-month program of regular resistance exercise training.

"In the randomized double blind trial, some of the participants were given a daily supplement of creatine (a naturally produced compound that supplies energy to muscles) and linoleic acid (a naturally occurring fatty acid), while others were given a placebo. All participants took part in the same exercise program.

"The exercise training resulted in improvements of functional ability and strength in all participants, but those taking the CrM and CLA showed even greater gains in muscle endurance, an increase in fat-free mass and a decrease in the percentage of body fat.

"'This data confirms that supervised resistance exercise training is safe and effective for increasing strength and function in older adults and that a combination of CrM and CLA can enhance some of the beneficial effects of training over a six month period,' said Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine.

"This study provides functional outcomes that build on an earlier mechanistic study co-led by Tarnopolsky and Dr. S. Melov at the Buck Institute of Age Research, published in PLoS One this year, which provided evidence that six months of resistance exercise reversed some of the muscle gene expression abnormalities associated with the aging process."

As always, I recommend telling your personal physician about any supplements you are considering. -LF

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Logan Franklin
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