The connection between creatine and kidney damage was unclear as of 2011, when researchers recommended more studies on the subject. Some studies indicate that taking high oral doses of this bodybuilding supplement can be dangerous to the kidneys in some patients, while others show no such link. Larger sample sizes and more controlled conditions are necessary in inconclusive situations like these, where practitioners and researchers have difficulty determining the risks and benefits of a given drug or activity. Studies on creatine and kidney damage are of particular importance for athletes, as they may take the supplement for extended periods of time and are most at risk if there is a firm connection.
In body, the kidneys normally produce creatine. Some people may use supplements to build muscle mass. One concern is that this compound is processed by the kidneys, and increasing intake can put strain on these organs. People may produce more urine, which can increase the risk of dehydration. Their bodies may also make less creatine in response to the supplementation, under the belief that the kidneys are producing enough to meet the need.
For a healthy person with a moderate exercise routine who stays hydrated and takes modest amounts of creatine, there may be no special concerns. Such populations appear to be at low risk of a problem with creatine and kidney damage. People who take extremely high doses for extended periods of time, however, could be at risk. Some cases of dehydration, for example, have been linked to this supplement, particularly in hot regions where people lose moisture quickly through sweating.
Existing kidney problems can heighten a link between creatine and kidney damage. Patients who know they don’t have healthy kidney function may need to be careful about taking anything that is metabolized through these critical organs, as they could be overloaded. Likewise, people taking medications known to cause kidney problems may also be at risk if they add creatine supplementation to their diets. A doctor can provide advice on whether it would be safe, and may recommend periodic testing to check on renal function.
Dietary supplements can potentially be dangerous for a variety of reasons. Patients preparing to supplement, whether they are athletes or are taking compounds for other reasons, may want to talk to a doctor. Unexpected side effects and reactions can occur. Planning ahead may reduce the risks and could help patients identify bad reactions associated with creatine and kidney damage early.