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Bone Building with Creatine | Muscle & Body Magazine

This sports supplement may help prevent osteoporosis.

Is creatine part of your supplement regimen? For decades, bodybuilders and other athletes have used this nitrogenous organic acid, made up of the three amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine, to supply their muscles with energy to stimulate growth. But researchers continue to discover other benefits of creatine supplementation. Recently, a study found that creatine also has the potential to improve aging bone health.

In my book “Lean & Hard: The Body You’ve Always Wanted in Just 24 Workouts” (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007), I talk about creatine absorption into the muscle cells. This results in what’s called “cell volumization” (enlargement). When billions of individual muscle cells become larger, the entire muscle increases in size and strength. When the remaining creatine monohydrate binds to phosphate molecules, it results in a form known as phosphocreatine, which eventually produces the chemical ATP, which provides the energy for muscle contraction. The more phosphocreatine stored in your muscles, the more potential you have to produce more ATP, the kind of energy you need to support your high-intensity workout.

Preventing Bone Loss

Sounds great for workouts, but how does creatine factor into our bone composition? Well, as we age, so do our bones. We see a reduction in bone mass by 0.5% each year after the age of 40, according to the faculty of Kinesiology & Health Studies at the University of Regina in Canada. Because of this reduction, we become more prone to osteoporosis, “a skeletal disorder characterized by low bone mass and strength.” To make matters worse, our muscle mass and strength decreases with aging as well, causing a negative effect on our agility and balance over time. This, of course, is why accidental falls and stabilization problems are common among older adults. According to the Advisory Council of Osteoporosis Society of Canada, osteoporosis “is a major health concern with direct and indirect health costs in the billions of dollars.”

Currently, physical activity is the only strategy proven to increase bone mass and bone strength outside of pharmacologic therapy. However, even if you are a dedicated athlete who trains correctly and diligently every day, humans are still likely to experience bone loss with age.

Not all hope is lost, though. New evidence suggests that nutrition could be a leading factor outside of physical activity to reduce the signs of bone reduction. More importantly, creatine monohydrate — once thought of as merely a muscle-building tool — has been suggested “to increase the metabolic activity of osteoblast-like cells involved in bone formation and decreasing cross-linked N-telopeptides of Type I collagen, an indicator of osteoclast mediated bone resorption,” according to The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. This suggests that creatine monohydrate can create denser, stronger bones.

Published reports investigating the potential effects of creatine supplementation found that when adding 0.1 g of creatine monohydrate per 1 kg (2.2 lb) of body weight per day during resistance training in healthy older male adults, there was a decrease in bone resorption — the reduction of the volume and size of the bone — by 30% as compared to only a 6% reduction in a placebo group.

The Workout/Creatine Formula

So, what exactly were these men doing resistancewise in order to see better results? Below you will find an example of the resistance training conducted during the study. The routines are based on eight machine-based, whole-body exercises. Subjects performed 3 sets of 10 repetitions to muscle fatigue with one to two minutes rest in between sets for three days a week, for a total of 10 weeks.

• Leg press

• Chest press

• Lat pulldown

• Shoulder press

• Leg extension/curl

• Biceps curl

• Calf press

The increase found in bone mineral content from supplementing with creatine correlated with the increase in lean muscle mass. This discovery suggests that “the increase in muscle from creatine supplementation may have enhanced muscle pull and strain on the bone, resulting in bone accretion,” according to the study authors.

Another recent study found that six to eight months of intense, consistent training was needed in order to detect measurable changes in the bone, and other published findings suggest that, “while resistance training typically results in an 8% increase in muscle strength, the addition of creatine to resistance training further augments these gains by an additional 12%.”

The Journal of Nutrition states, “since muscle mass is a strong predictor of bone mass with aging, the increase in muscle from creatine supplementation and resistance training may also have a favorable effect on the bone.”

It is important to remember that there is limited research thus far on just how greatly creatine affects bone biology, but the researchers suggest that there is “potential for creatine to increase the metabolic activity of osteoblast-like cells involved in bone formation.”

My book “Lean & Hard” showed that it’s important to use a creatine product that is categorized as pharmaceutical grade. The majority of studies conducted on creatine have evaluated pharmacological-grade creatine monohydrate in oral or intravenous phosphocreatine formulations or in powder form.

Even though creatine has been proven to enhance muscle performance — and now the possibility of combating bone deterioration — I strongly recommend that you seek medical consultation before taking creatine products to make sure that the supplements match to your health history.

via Bone Building with Creatine | Muscle & Body Magazine.