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What Is Creatine?

Creatine is made up of the three amino acids: arginine, glycine and methionine. Our body produces creatine (it is made in the liver) and we also can get creatine from our diet. At any given time the average person has about 120 grams of creatine stored in their body.

Creatine is an essential, natural substance required for energy metabolism, muscular movement and human existence. Creatine is as essential to life as protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Creatine deficiencies have been associated with certain physical-muscular disorders that can be fatal in humans and animals.

The human body synthesizes creatine from 3 amino acids: glycine, arginine, and methionine.

These amino acids are components of protein. In humans, the enzymes involved in the synthesis of creatine are located in the liver, pancreas and kidneys. Creatine can be produced in any of these organs and then transported into the muscle via the bloodstream. Approximately 95% of the total creatine pool is stored in skeletal muscle tissue. The remaining 5% can be found in the heart, brain and testes. As stated earlier, it is estimated that a 70 kg (154 lbs.) male will have a total creatine pool of approximately 140 grams in his body. The total creatine pool in humans refers to the combined amount of creatine in its free form and phosphocreatine form. In skeletal muscle tissue, phosphocreatine accounts for two-thirds of the total creatine pool, with free form creatine making up the balance. In the absence of exogenous (from the diet) creatine, the rate of creatine excreted in the form of creatinine has been estimated to be around 1.6% per day in humans. Thus, with a bodyweight of 70kg (154 lbs.) and a total creatine pool of 140 grams, a human will lose approximately 2 grams of creatine per day from normal everyday activity. This turnover of creatine will increase with greater physical activity and must be replaced by the diet or the body's own natural production. Dietary creatine is found mostly in meat, fish and other animal products. Plants contain only trace amounts. The average daily diet of meats and vegetables contains an estimated creatine level of 1 gram. As only some of the daily requirement of creatine can be attained from diet, the body must synthesize the rest. A vegetarian's daily requirement for creatine can only be achieved by endogenous (from within the body) synthesis via the enzyme GAMT. The effect of aging on the level of free form creatine and phosphocreatine has been studied by Moller and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Interestingly, there were no differences in the total creatine levels between a group of elderly (aged 52 to 79) and young (aged 18 to 36). But the study did reveal that the younger participants had higher phosphocreatine levels than did the older group. Such differences can be attributed to the greater level of activity in the younger group.

Creatine provides energy for your muscles

In your body you have an energy containing compound called ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate). What is important to know about ATP is that the body can very quickly get energy from a ATP reaction. You have other sources of energy such as carbohydrates and fat - but they take longer to convert into a useable energy source. When you are doing an intense quick burst activity such as lifting a weight or sprinting, your muscles use ATP for a quick burst of energy.

In order for ATP to release its energy it must give up a phosphate molecule and become ADP (adenosine di-phosphate). Unfortunately, we do not have an endless supply of ATP. In fact, your muscles only contain enough ATP to last about 10-15 seconds at maximum exertion.

Here is where the creatine comes in to play. When creatine enters the muscles it bonds with a phosphate and becomes creatine phosphate (CP). CP is able to react with the ADP in your body and turn "useless" ADP back into the "super useful" energy source - ATP. More ATP in your body means more fuel for your muscles.

This is the process by which creatine provides more energy for your muscles.

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