Creatine is a molecule which is responsible for energy production in the muscles. Due to this, the muscle metabolism in the body increases which releases a chemical waste molecule called Creatinine. Almost 2 percent of the creatine (15 to 30 mg creatinine per kg of body weight)produced in the body is converted to creatinine. The amount of creatinine produced in the body normally remains unchanged throughout the day since the muscle mass generally remains constant. Creatinine is released from the body through urine. It is transported to the kidneys through the bloodstream where it gets filtered for excretion. First, let’s take a look at normal creatinine levels:
Normal Creatinine Levels (Serum)
|For adult men||0.6 to 1.2 milligrams per deciliter|
|For adult women||0.5 to 1.1 milligrams per deciliter|
|For people with one kidney||1.8 to 1.9 milligrams per deciliter|
The above creatinine levels indicate normal functioning of the kidneys. Levels higher than or lower than the above values indicate impaired kidney function or kidney diseases. In babies, creatine levels over 2.0 mg/dl are considered severe whereas, in adults, the level can go up to 10.0 mg/dl. Since kidneys are the primary organ responsible for getting rid of creatinine from the body, it is very important to ensure that the kidneys are working properly. This can be done by maintaining a record of the amount of creatinine released from the body and comparing it with the normal creatinine level chart. There are two ways to measure the amount of creatinine extracted from the body. The first is a mathematical solution containing the patient’s age, weight and the creatinine level in the blood. Another way is to test the urine sample of a patient over 24 hours. This is a more direct approach which determines the creatinine level in both urine and blood.
Causes of High and Low Creatinine Levels
Low Creatinine levels in the body can be caused by:
- Muscle diseases like muscular dystrophy are known to cause low creatinine levels in the body. Symptoms include decreased mobility, muscle stiffness, muscle weakness, and pain.
- As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass. This decrease in muscle mass causes low creatinine levels in the blood. Malnutrition, decrease in the calorie intake, illness or prolonged starvation can also cause the creatinine level to decrease
- Symptoms like jaundice, swelling, and pain in the abdomen, bloody and pale stools indicate poor liver functioning. This can also cause low creatinine levels.
- Another reason for low creatinine levels in the body is a vegetarian diet. Animal meat, fish, and poultry provide necessary protein and creatine to the body. This creatine is then converted into creatinine.
- Pregnant women can suffer from a decrease in creatinine levels due to the side-effects of some medications or excess water loss.
High Creatinine levels in the body can be caused by:
High creatinine levels in the body is a general indicator that the kidneys are not performing well. Some reasons for that are:
- Infection in the kidneys.
- Kidneys stop working or get damaged and work improperly.
- High blood pressure and diabetes also put extra pressure on the kidneys. Sometimes the kidneys wilt under so many responsibilities and start acting inefficiently.
- The blood flow to the kidneys has reduced.
- There are certain medications and drugs like cimetidine which increase the creatinine levels in the body.
- There is more water loss in the body than water intake causing dehydration.
Effects of Low and High Creatinine Levels in the Body
There’s not much to worry about if the creatinine level in the body is low. It ordinarily shows that the kidneys are functions effectively. However, there may arise some complications due to low creatinine levels. Some of them are:
- It could be a symptom or indication of an onset muscle disease. A doctor may advise a muscle enzyme test or a muscle biopsy to rule out the chances of a muscular disease.
- Diseases like myasthenia gravis or other autoimmune diseases which affect the muscles can be evaluated for if the person is suffering from low creatinine level.
- A lower amount of creatinine also indicates poor functioning of livers. In some cases, this may lead to possible liver pathologies or hepatitis. Seek medical attention and avoid liver toxins like alcoholic beverages.
High Creatinine levels
- In infants, high creatinine level can cause bacteremia and in adults or grown-ups, high creatinine levels indicate a greater risk of prostate cancer.
- Creatinine level is a direct indicator of how well the kidneys are performing. High creatinine levels mean that the kidneys are in danger of failure and immediate x-rays or biopsies should be done.
- Since creatinine is released from the body through urine, accumulation of creatinine for a long time can decrease the amount of urine released and change the color of urine.
- A loss in appetite, feeling fatigued and lethargic all the time, swelling in the face and eyes, headaches and shortness in breath are also some of the symptoms caused due to high creatinine levels in the body.
- The Journal of Agriculture Food chemicals conducted a study which revealed that participants who drank chamomile tea had lower levels of creatinine in the body. To drink chamomile tea at home, put some dried chamomile flowers into the hot water and let it steep for 5 minutes. Strain the flowers and drink the tea.
- Just like chamomile, you can make tea from dried nettle leaves. The procedure is the same. This tea, also known as stinging nettle, promotes renal excretion and helps to remove metabolic waste due to its diuretic properties.
- Dandelion root is also a natural diuretic which helps in lowering the creatinine levels and flushing out the toxins from the body. It aids the kidneys for proper functioning and also relieves swelling caused due to water retention. Diabetic patients should consult a doctor before incorporating this into their diet.
- Cinnamon is also a very good ingredient in reducing creatinine levels from the body. It regulates blood sugar level promoting the renal filtration ability of the kidneys and preventing further damage to it.
- Siberian ginseng, unlike Asian ginseng which is anti-diuretic, contains eleutheroside which is used as an energy-boosting supplement. It revitalizes the kidneys reducing the excess creatinine and promoting proper renal circulation. It also has anti-stress and anti-fatigue properties.
- Corn silk is a very effective anti-inflammatory agent. It is very beneficial for the body as it lowers the high blood pressure, reduces edema and increases the urine output which leads to the extraction of excess creatinine. It is obvious to say that people who are allergic to corn should not use this remedy to maintain proper creatinine level in the body.
- Patients suffering from kidney failure are more prone to having excess creatinine levels in their body. This is because the creatine present in the body doesn’t get properly filtered. Sage has been found to be beneficial in this condition as it increases the rate of creatinine extraction in people suffering from kidney failures.
- Chitosan is a great home ingredient which can be taken as a supplement in an effective way to reduce both creatinine and cholesterol levels in the body. It is also very effective for weight management.
- Chinese rhubarb works very effectively in detoxifying the intestines and boosting the urine output. The increased urine takes metabolic wastes by itself decreasing the amount of creatinine and enhancing kidney functionality.
- Barley water is also known as kidney cleanser in some parts of the world. Barley is very rich in fibers, vitamins, and minerals making it a unique home remedy for many symptoms such as nephrocalcinosis, indigestion, high blood sugar levels and also, high blood urea nitrogen. Just add a cup of barley in 4 cups of water, boil it for half an hour, strain the solution and then drink it steadily.
- Limit the intake of non-vegetarian food like poultry, red meat, and seafood. Creatine is the main producer of creatinine so foods rich in phosphorous and potassium should be avoided, such as potatoes, brown-rice, colas, prunes and others.
- High blood sugar and high blood pressure are the main reasons for kidney damage. Kidneys are responsible for the filtering and extraction of creatinine from the body. It is crucial that proper blood sugar and blood pressure is maintained so that the kidneys work properly and the creatinine levels are maintained.
- People with high creatinine levels need to release creatinine from their system. Exercising even mildly increases the muscle metabolism which increases the amount of creatinine released.
- Dehydration is one of the most common reasons for unbalanced creatinine levels in the body. This phenomenon is more general for kidney donors and kidney transplant patients. Drink ample amounts of water every day at regular intervals to restore the balance in the creatinine levels.
- One of the reasons for improper creatinine levels in the body is prolonged use of certain drugs like non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, diuretics, and high blood pressure drugs. These drugs can cause creatinine to increase or decrease.
Myths and Facts
Myth: Creatine is only for Body Builders.
Fact: It is commonly believed that creatine is best suited as a supplement for bodybuilders. It is a misconception because creatine provides sudden bursts of strength and power for anyone who needs it. It may be an athlete, footballer, powerlifter, sprinter or even a common person who doesn’t undergo any rigorous training or exercises.
Myth: Creatine is a Steroid.
Fact: Creatine is very commonly misunderstood for a steroid. It is because creatine is extensively used as a supplement by bodybuilders who are known to use steroids to boost muscle gain. A steroid is a compound which has 4 conjoined cycloalkane rings and is usually illegal to use and buy. Creatine, on the other hand, is neither illegal nor does it contains any ring, hence can’t be called a steroid.
Myth: Creatinine only helps you retain Water Weight.
Fact: A placebo-controlled study recently found out that even after three months of regular creatine usage, the water level in the body didn’t rise that significantly. The subjects showed a gain in fat-free mass and total body mass instead. Cheaply manufactured creatine or creatine mixed with excess sodium might be the reason for an increase in water weight.
Myth: You lose muscle if you stop using Creatine.
Fact: In the initial stages, it might look like you are losing muscle because the water weight starts disappearing. After all the water weight from the body is released, real muscle remains which increase or stays in the same shape according to the amount of workout you do and not the amount of creatine your intake.
- Do Creatinine levels change with age?
There are two factors responsible for the creatinine levels in the body – kidneys and muscle mass. As a person grows up their kidneys tend to function improperly and ineffectively while the muscle mass decreases. This results in a slight decrease in creatinine levels as we grow up.
- What is a BUN/Creatinine ratio?
The normal ratio between Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine is 10:1 or 20:1. If the ratio is higher than this then a doctor must be consulted. High BUN to Creatinine level ratio indicates dehydration or congestive heart failure which leads to a decrease in the blood flow to the kidneys.
- Does creatinine work as effectively for Women as it does for Men?
The ability of creatinine to help in building lean muscle tissues is not that effective for women as it is for men. From the very few studies done on women, it has been found that due to their small size and lower muscle count, women are unable to get full use out of creatinine, unlike their male counterparts.
- What foods should I consume if I have low Creatine in the body?
Apart from supplements, creatine can also be extracted from some of the food products. The best source of creatine has to be animals as every animal meat contains creatine in some form or the other. Animal meat like tuna, beef, salmon, and pork can contain up to 2 grams of creatine.
- Is it safe for teenagers to consume Creatine?
The biggest concern for parents in adding something in their child’s diet is how it will affect their natural growth process. Supplements are not any different. Although there hasn’t been any concrete evidence that Creatine interferes with the natural growth of a child, it is advised that they stay clear of it and other muscle building supplements.