|A recent study in which creatine was found to boost muscle strength in
those afflicted with muscle-wasting diseases such as muscular
dystrophy may also be good news for the elderly. One of the most
debilitating symptoms of aging is a loss of muscle strength, and
consequently, independence. An inability to climb stairs or to walk even
a short distance without resting can make independent living
impossible. One cause of this muscle degeneration is a reduced level of
creatine in aging muscles- the same characteristic found in younger
patients with neuromuscular diseases such as muscular dystrophy,
according to Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, MD, Ph.D.
Dr. Tarnopolsky recently led a study at McMaster University Medical
Center in Hamilton, Ontario, which found positive results on 81 patients
with neuromuscular diseases after a 10-day regimen of creatine in
powder form. Results of the study were published in the March 10 issue
of the journal Neurology, a publication of the American Academy of
Neurology, of St. Paul, Minnesota.
In the study, the patients were tested at the beginning and end of the
10-day period to measure strength gains. On average, the patients
exhibited improvements of 10 to 15% in hand, foot and leg strength.
Along with the muscle strength, these patients also experienced weight
gains and an increase in lean muscle mass.
Creatine is actually a combination of two amino acids, and is produced
mostly in the liver. It is also found in lean red meat and fish. Once in
the body, creatine is carried in the blood to skeletal muscles, the heart,
and the brain. Dr. Tarnopolsky describes creatine's function as giving
one a bridge between one energy source and another, allowing for
higher energy output over a longer period of time.
While there is certainly more research to be done, the McMaster
University study offers much hope for those whose natural levels of
creatine have been depleted, either through age or disease.
(Tarnopolsky M, et al. Creatine monohydrate increases strength in
patients with neuromuscular disease. Neurology. 1999 Mar: