I was surprised to see this question asked, “Can Someone Be Allergic to Creatine?”
However, it appears that various creatine users have reported side-effects most commonly associated with allergies.
In fact, I have found various online fitness forums where users have spoken of coming out in rashes or hives.
And the only reason they can think of is their creatine consumption.
This is actually a very strange phenomenon, so allow me to explain why.
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Can Someone Be Allergic to Creatine?
No-one should be allergic to creatine. It is naturally produced in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys and then transported to skeletal muscle tissue for use. Creatine is also found in red meat and seafood. However, creatine is not a regulated supplement, so there may be “additional” ingredients that you are allergic to. So, always purchase creatine from a reputable manufacturer, and perhaps try micronized creatine over monohydrate. Furthermore, creatine often gets the blame even though a reaction could be caused in conjunction with other food and drink you are consuming.
1. Creatine is Not a Regulated Supplement
I have to say that I find it hard to believe that anyone is allergic to creatine.
I mean, creatine is naturally produced in the kidneys, pancreas, and liver.
It is then transported to skeletal muscle tissue.
Therefore, every single person has creatine naturally in their body.
Creatine is also found in various foods, especially red meat and seafood.
Depending on your body weight, there is usually 120-200g of creatine found in the body at any one time.
This is typically given as an average of 150g.
The creatine in your skeletal muscle tissue will become depleted during intense exercise, hence the reason why many of us choose to supplement creatine.
I guess you can overdo creatine supplementation, which is why many users complain of stomach cramps, diarrhea, etc.
But, this is obviously very different from an actual allergic reaction.
Furthermore, there are certain symptoms caused by not drinking enough water.
Water is drawn from the body and directed towards the muscles during creatine supplementation.
So, you should always increase your water intake when taking creatine.
For me, the main issue comes down to the fact that creatine is not a regulated supplement.
And unfortunately this means that you’re never 100% sure what you’re getting.
In fact, there have been reported instances of supplements containing other drugs, as well as being contaminated with toxic metals.
The simple fact that creatine is not evaluated by the FDA or any other regulated body means that there are no manufacturing standards in place.
So, if you are suffering an allergic reaction, it’s highly unlikely it’s the creatine, but rather some other unknown “ingredients”.
This is why it’s important that you always purchase creatine from a reputable manufacturer.
2. What Creatine is Supposed to Do
Okay, I’ve spoken about how creatine is naturally produced in the body and readily available through certain foods.
But, I want to quickly explain what creatine actually does for the body.
This should also demonstrate why it’s unlikely that someone may be allergic to creatine.
Creatine is actually an amino acid and the stores we have in our body are naturally produced and also come from food.
However, this is mainly from meat and fish-based products.
This is also why it is often recommended that vegetarians and vegans supplement creatine, whether they exercise or not.
As an example, herring, beef, and salmon, all contain approximately 1g of creatine per 100g serving.
The creatine that is either produced by the kidneys, liver, and pancreas, or from the food we eat is then converted into creatine phosphate.
Back to this in a moment.
All of our muscle movements are fuelled by adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
However, the body is only able to store small amounts of ATP, which is typically enough for short bursts of activity.
Additionally, ATP takes a long time to synthesize in the body.
In order to speed up this process, the compound adenosine phosphate will take the required phosphate molecules from creatine phosphate.
This immediately creates more ATP that can be used for muscle activity.
So realistically, you are supplementing creatine to create more ATP.
As I’ve mentioned, the ATP reserves we do have in the body are enough for short bursts of energy.
This is why creatine supplementation is most commonly associated with weight lifting, sprints, HIIT, as opposed to endurance training.
Basically, creatine consumption can help to improve strength, power, explosive speed, and lean muscle mass.
What Does Creatine Do?
3. Are You Inadvertently Blaming the Creatine?
I’ve already spoken about the importance of increasing your water intake when taking creatine.
If you don’t take on more water it’s likely that you’ll suffer certain side-effects.
However, these side-effects are not specifically caused by creatine itself, but rather the fact that you have let yourself become dehydrated.
The exact same can be said of many potential reactions that are usually blamed as being an allergy to creatine.
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One of the major causes of discomfort with creatine is simply because of what you’re mixing it with.
Let’s face facts, even though creatine is supposed to be tasteless and odourless, we all try to spice it up a little.
You perhaps mix creatine with apple or orange juice, or then again with your protein shake.
Any one of these other ingredients could cause an allergic reaction.
Plus, if you’re drinking juice you’ll experience a spike in blood sugar levels.
Then again, there are undoubtedly numerous other food and drink sources that you ingest throughout the day.
Once more, some type of reaction can be caused by any one of these.
I often think that creatine gets the blame, whereas there are so many other things that could be causing your problems.
4. Try Micronized Creatine
Something else to consider is trying another form of creatine.
There are a vast array of different types of creatine supplements.
However, the most commonly used supplement is creatine monohydrate.
With that being said, there are a number of issues that can be caused by monohydrate.
Firstly, it’s not very soluble or stable in water, so you should take it immediately after dissolving it.
Additionally, insoluble creatine monohydrate can actually sit in the cells of your stomach.
And this can also be a cause of stomach irritation or diarrhea.
Plus, I’ve already mentioned that if you don’t purchase creatine from a reputable company that it may contain impurities.
A better, yet slightly more expensive, option is micronized creatine.
This is essentially monohydrate, except the molecules of creatine have been divided or cut up.
This basically means that micronized creatine has a larger surface area, but smaller molecules.
And it is this that will dramatically reduce many of the gastrointestinal problems associated with creatine monohydrate.
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So, if you really feel as though you are allergic to creatine, or that it’s causing you problems, then give the micronized variety a try.
Which Form of Creatine is Best?
5. Is it Time to Stop Taking Creatine?
Okay, I’ve stated on numerous occasions that I don’t believe that anyone should be allergic to creatine.
However, we are all different to each other, and therefore our bodies typically react in different ways to what we put in them.
There is no actual scientific evidence, or medically reported cases, of creatine causing rashes or hives.
But, there’s no hiding from the fact that some users have spoken about this on online fitness forums.
If you are someone who believes that you’re suffering an allergic reaction to creatine then perhaps it’s time for you to stop taking it.
I would suggest that you make an appointment with your Doctor, and ensure you take a bottle of creatine with you, so they can look over the ingredients.
There are certainly non-responders to creatine, as in it doesn’t produce the desired effect.
So, even though I have said that I find it hard to believe that someone is allergic to creatine, there haven’t been enough long-term studies to prove otherwise.
Better to be safe than sorry.
So, as you can see, it’s highly unlikely that someone would be allergic to creatine.
This is simply because it is naturally produced in the body.
Plus, dietary creatine is regularly consumed by those of you who eat meat and seafood.
With that being said, creatine isn’t a regulated supplement, so you never know what you’re going to get if you don’t purchase it from a reputable source.
Plus, don’t forget that you’ll need to increase your water intake with creatine supplementation, otherwise you may suffer certain side-effects.
I would also be wary of what you’re mixing creatine with, and the other food and drink that you consume throughout the day.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.