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Creatine makes bones stronger

Creatine [see structural formula below] is a miracle supplement. It not only strengthens your muscles; there are animals studies which show that creatine extends life; it makes you more alert – and it makes the skeleton stronger too. This last aspect was uncovered by researchers at McMaster University in Canada when they did experiments on young rats.


Creatine makes bones stronger
When bones grow and get stronger, the concentration of the enzyme creatine kinase increases. This is the enzyme that attaches phosphate groups to creatine, thereby providing creatine with energy. When the cell requires energy in the form of phosphate groups, it cuts the phosphate groups loose from the creatine molecule. So putting two and two together, you'll have realised that the Canadians suspected that creatine makes bones stronger.

To check whether this suspicion was founded, the Canadians devised an experiment with 32 male rats aged 5 weeks. Half of the rats were given feed containing 2 percent creatine powder for 8 weeks long. The other half were given ordinary feed. At the end of the eight weeks the Canadians examined the rats' bones.

The rats' thighbone [femur; the picture shows a human thigh bone] had become more compact, and the same had happened to the lower back vertebrae [lumbar]. The researchers also examined separately the weakest part of the thighbone, the end that’s attached to the hip bone [distal femur].

Creatine makes bones stronger

The researchers then measured the strength of the bones. They killed the lab animals, removed the thighbones and put them in a machine that subjected them to a gradually increasing amount of force. The Canadians then measured the amount of Newtons [unit of force] at which the bones broke. They observed that 12 percent more force was needed to break the bones of the rats that had been fed creatine than to break the bones of the rats in the control group.

Creatine makes bones stronger

The researchers think that creatine could help children whose bones break easily due to a medical defect. It may also help elderly people suffering from osteoporosis. "Creatine supplementation has the potential to beneficially affect bone in young, growing rats", the Canadians conclude, "and, therefore, may represent a novel intervention for disorders that adversely affect bone mineral density."

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 May; 39(5): 816-20.

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