Having a child and being a mother is a big responsibility. Being conscious of how you eat and train, is important to determine what is in the best interest and for the health of your child. One of the questions we get asked at Swolverine by mothers and expecting mothers, is, “is creatine safe to consume during pregnancy and breastfeeding?” In this article, we will investigating the current scientific literature to determine, if supplementing creatine during pregnancy and breastfeeding is safe.
Creatine is most often associated with improving athletic performance, via the phosphagen system facilitating the production of adenosine-triphosphate (ATP).
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Phosphocreatine is produced from amino acids and is naturally synthesized by the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. The body also receives dietary creatine through the consumption of protein. Creatine is known for its role in the intracellular storage of metabolic energy. At a molecular level, creatine is an essential part for healthy biological development. During pregnancy, nutrients including creatine are transferred from the mother to the baby through the placenta.
A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients investigated the Risk of Adverse Outcomes in Females Taking Oral Creatine Monohydrate. In the review, six hundred and fifty-six studies were identified where creatine supplementation was the primary intervention; fifty-eight were female only studies (9%). Twenty-nine studies monitored for adverse outcomes, with 951 participants. There were no deaths or serious adverse outcomes reported. There were no significant differences in total adverse events, gastrointestinal events, or weight gain. In conclusion, mortality and serious adverse events are not associated with creatine monohydrate supplementation in females (R).
This review concludes that women are safe to consume creatine as a supplement, with no adverse effects. However, can mothers supplement creatine while pregnant or breastfeeding? Let’s find out.
Unfortunately, there is very little research on creatine supplementation and human pregnancy. However, researchers suspect that creatine supplementation could be beneficial during pregnancy due to its many purported therapeutic benefits and preliminary animal studies.
Pregnancy is a heightened state of metabolic activity that requires additional nutritional requirements. Fetal tissues and the brain are vulnerable to oxidative stress, especially if infection is present or inflammatory processes are triggered.
Animal studies have shown that creatine supplementation protects the fetal brain, diaphragm, and kidney against hypoxic insult at term (R). Creatine has not been investigated in human pregnancy but the positive results from these animal experiments suggest that creatine supplementation in the 2nd or 3rd trimester of human pregnancy could provide benefit to all pregnant women against the risk of antenatally or perinatally acquired brain injury, in much the same way that folate is now used to prevent neural tube defects in early pregnancy.
Researchers also suggest that the ‘pleiotropic’ properties, (when single gene affects two or more characters) of creatine will have benefits for many fetal tissues where vasoconstriction, oxidative stress, or glutamate toxicity may arise, in addition to its main function of maintaining mitochondrial function and ATP turnover.
Although there is no much in the way of research on creatine supplementation during pregnancy or when breastfeeding, preliminary research suggests that creatine may have positive benefits on child development. Women can get an adequate amount of creatine through dietary sources, therefore, more research is needed to determine whether additional supplementation would be beneficial or not.
Creatine has well established neuroprotective effects, that can improve cognitive function. Researchers believe that the benefits of creatine during pregnancy may extend beyond the brain, and prevent damage to other organs. During pregnancy, hypoxia, inflammation, and oxidative stress are reasonably common events that lead to compromise several organ systems. The use of creatine as a prophylactic therapy, is likely to be investigated in future studies (R).
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