Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Renal Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Creatine supplements are intended to improve performance, but there are indications that it can overwhelm liver and kidney functions, reduce the quality of life, and increase mortality. Therefore, this is the first systematic review and meta-analysis study that aimed to investigate creatine supplements and their possible renal function side effects. After evaluating 290 non-duplicated studies, 15 were included in the qualitative analysis and 6 in the quantitative analysis. The results of the meta-analysis suggest that creatine supplementation did not significantly alter serum creatinine levels (standardized mean difference 5 0.48, 95% confidence interval 0.24-0.73, P 5 .001, I 2 5 22%), and did not alter plasma urea values (standardized mean difference 5 1.10, 95% confidence interval 0.34-1.85, P 5 .004, I 2 5 28%). The findings indicate that creatine supplementation does not induce renal damage in the studied amounts and durations.

The objective of this systematic review and metaanalysis is to analyze the studies that verified the effects of creatine supplementation on renal function. We conclude that most of the studies did not demonstrate renal damage with creatine supplementation; therefore, we are of the opinion that creatine supplements are safe for young adults and patients with chronic renal diseases. We suggest that further studies are needed that analyze the effects of creatine supplements in elderly patients with chronic renal failure and/or individuals with other pathologies. In addition, we emphasize the importance of more studies about quality control standards for dietary supplements.

Practical Application

The findings indicate that creatine supplementation does not induce renal damage. Thus, the creatine supplementation is relevant to clinicians in renal nutrition and/or working with population interested as athletes of strength and bodybuilding.