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Is it safe for teenagers to use creatine?
Again we must state a definitive, absolute - maybe! This is a very tough question to answer and is hotly debated. Let's start by looking at some facts:
The body is growing up until age 18.
When are body is in its growth phase it is very important not to do anything that could interfere with growth. It is for this reason that it makes sense to spend some time trying to determine if creatine could in any way interfere with growth.
Creatine has never been proven to interfere with growth
This is obviously a good sign. However, critics will point to this next fact -
Creatine has not been studied long enough to guarantee it does not interfere with growth.
It is true that long term studies with teenagers have not been done. In addition, for ethical reasons they probably never will be done. No one wants to pump teenagers full of creatine for a few years just to see if it harms them. So what we are left with is the old "is the glass half empty or half full" debate.
You can look at the facts and say creatine has not been linked to long term growth problems so I think it is safe for teenagers. Someone else could easily say - more research needs to be done before we can draw any conclusions. Our feeling is that if you want to be completely safe don't take creatine until you are older than 18. It is not that we have read anything that tells us that creatine is dangerous to teenagers, but if you want to error on the safe side - don't use it just in case new research comes out later.
One thing we want to mention is that it is unfair to hold creatine to a higher standard than any other food or supplement. Many parents will let their children drink can after can of soda without researching the possible dangers of caffeine. Then when it comes to creatine they want a guarantee that it is completely safe. Well, there are no guarantees in life - and it is important to understand that we take risks everyday when we eat or drink certain foods.
A very powerful argument could be made on the negative effects of sugar for teenagers. However, there is little public outcry to ban sugar sales to minors. Our point is that it is great to be a concerned parent - but creatine may not be the only thing you should be evaluating.
In the end, we feel that you have your whole life to use creatine - so why rush into it before you are 18. If you workout hard in the gym - that is the real key to building muscle mass. As you get closer to 18 it becomes a "less risky" decision if you decide to use creatine. Inversely we believe that 12 - 15 year olds are just too young to really be using any supplements. Of course, every person is different and it is best to make your decision with your doctor and parents.
If a teenager does decide to use creatine do you have any advice?
Whatever you do - do not take more than the recommended dosage. We believe it makes sense to use less than the recommended dosage. Perhaps 4 grams of powder instead of 5 grams.
If you find you have any negative side effects you should stop taking the creatine.
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