Creatine (Molecule of the Month for April 2008)
CEE, Creatine ethyl ester, Creapure
Creatine is nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in vertebrates and helps to supply energy to muscle and nerve cells. Creatine was identified in 1832 when Michel Eugène Chevreul discovered it as a component of skeletal muscle, which he later named creatine after the Greek word for flesh, Kreas. In the human body, approximately half of the daily creatine is biosynthesized from three different amino acids - arginine, glycine, and methionine. The rest is taken in by alimentary sources; mainly from fresh fish and meat. Ninety-five percent of creatine is later stored in the skeletal muscles, with the rest predominantly in the brain, heart, testes, inner ear and hair cells.
Creatine supplementation has been, and continues to be, investigated as a possible therapeutic approach for the treatment of muscular, neuromuscular, neurological and neurodegenerative diseases (arthritis, congestive heart failure, Parkinson's disease, disuse atrophy, gyrate atrophy, McArdle's disease, Huntington's disease, miscellaneous neuromuscular diseases, mitochondrial diseases, muscular dystrophy, neuroprotection, etc.).
Creatine is often taken by athletes as a supplement for those wishing to gain muscle mass (bodybuilding). There are a number of forms but the most common are creatine monohydrate - creatine complexed with a molecule of water, and Creatine ethyl ester (CEE). A number of methods for ingestion exist - as a powder mixed into a drink, or as a capsule or caplet. Once ingested, creatine is highly bioavailable, whether it is ingested as the crystalline monohydrate form, the free form in solution, or even in meat. Creatine salts will become the free form when dissolved in aqueous solution. Conventional wisdom recommends the consumption of creatine with high glycemic index carbohydrates, though research indicates that the use of high GI carbs in combination with protein is also beneficial. There is scientific evidence that taking creatine supplements can marginally increase athletic performance in high-intensity anaerobic repetitive cycling sprints, but studies in swimmers and runners have been less than promising, possibly due to the weight gain. Ingesting creatine can increase the level of phosphocreatine in the muscles up to 20%. It must be noted creatine has no significant effect on aerobic endurance, though it will increase power during aerobic exercise.
Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
2-(carbamimidoyl-methyl-amino) acetic acid
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for April 2008 )