Is Creatine Bad For Teens? (Is It Safe?)

October 8, 2023

Even though creatine is one of the most researched, effective, and safe performance-enhancing supplements, the outdated perception that it is bad for teens still prevents many parents and young athletes from adding creatine to their nutrition toolkit when improving their performance.

Research, underscored by a consensus statement from the International Society for Sports Nutrition[1], affirms that creatine is considered safe for teenagers engaged in rigorous training regimens and maintaining well-balanced diets when consumed in suitable dosages.

Although there is comparatively less research on supplement use in young athletes than for adult athletes, enough data exists to offer guidance when determining whether teens should use creatine.

Is Creatine Bad For Teens?

An extensive collection of data supports the safety and effectiveness of creatine supplementation in adult athletes. However, numerous misconceptions and unsubstantiated concerns exist about using creatine in teens [2].

The notion that young athletes should avoid creatine is rooted in warning labels on products advising against usage by individuals under 18.

This is based on a mistaken belief that there is evidence of potential harm to younger populations. These warnings are primarily a legal precaution due to limited studies on teen athletes rather than conclusive evidence of creatine’s potential risks [2].

Numerous adult studies have shown that creatine is safe for athletes [3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. In addition, many studies have been done on the safety of creatine use in teens and children in clinical settings [8, 9, 10, 11], and similar safety profiles likely exist for teenage athletes [2].

Additionally, many people tend to confuse or associate creatine with anabolic steroids [12], which is false because creatine does not affect the body’s hormones.

How Young Is Too Young To Take Creatine?

Is Creatine Safe For Teens

Because there is very little research, specifically intervention studies, done on various ages of children and young athletes using creatine, there is no concrete set of guidelines on when children can start using creatine.

However, when looking at research done in clinical or hospital patients, creatine has been effectively and safely used from infancy and throughout a wide range of ages under 18 years old [8, 9, 10, 11].

However, it is important to have a good food-first approach to sports nutrition in young athletes and ensure that their overall diet has enough energy, macronutrients, micronutrients, hydration, and proper nutrient timing before using a supplement like creatine [14].

Supplements are there to enhance an already good diet, and teenage years offer a fantastic opportunity to build performance-enhancing nutritional habits that will lead to long-term benefits to health and performance.

Are There Any Side Effects When Teens Take Creatine?

Although there are no studies looking at the side effects of teenage athletes taking creatine, similar side effects to those seen in adults can likely be expected [2].

Various studies have looked at the side effects of creatine in adult athletes, renal function, muscle and liver enzymes, markers of catabolism, electrolytes, blood lipids, red cell status, lymphocytes, urine volume, dehydration, and weight gain, and the only side effect found was increased weight due to increased muscle mass, which is beneficial because it indicates strength improvements [2, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19].

On the contrary, athletes using creatine experienced less cramping, heat illness/dehydration, muscle tightness, or injuries [20].


Using creatine supplements in young athletes is safe and can be an excellent alternative to banned substances such as anabolic steroids.

This applies specifically to teenage athletes engaged in dedicated training, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, demonstrating a sound understanding of how to use creatine, and adhering to recommended dosage guidelines [1].

Warning labels on creatine products advising against use by individuals under 18 years old, though possibly meant to protect manufacturers from legal issues, seem unnecessary considering the scientific evidence demonstrating creatine’s safety – even in children and adolescents.


  1. Kreider, R. B., Kalman, D. S., Antonio, J., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Wildman, R., Collins, R., Candow, D. G., Kleiner, S. M., Almada, A. L., & Lopez, H. L. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. *Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14*, 18.
  2. Jagim, A. R., Stecker, R. A., Harty, P. S., Erickson, J. L., & Kerksick, C. M. (2018). Safety of Creatine Supplementation in Active Adolescents and Youth: A Brief Review. *Frontiers in Nutrition, 5*, 115.
  3. Kreider, R. B., et al. (2003). Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. *Molecular Cell Biochemistry, 244*(1–2), 95–104.
  4. Jager, R., et al. (2011). Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. *Amino Acids, 40*(5), 1369–1383.
  5. Cancela, P., et al. (2008). Creatine supplementation does not affect clinical health markers in football players. *British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42*(9), 731–735.
  6. Dalbo, V. J., et al. (2008). Putting to rest the myth of creatine supplementation leading to muscle cramps and dehydration. *British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42*(7), 567–573.
  7. Groeneveld, G. J., et al. (2005). Few adverse effects of long-term creatine supplementation in a placebo-controlled trial. *International Journal of Sports Medicine, 26*(4), 307–313.
  8. Braissant, O., Henry, H., Beard, E., & Uldry, J. (2011). Creatine deficiency syndromes and the importance of creatine synthesis in the brain. *Amino Acids, 40*, 1315–1324.
  9. Battini, R., Alessandri, M. G., Leuzzi, V., Moro, F., Tosetti, M., Bianchi, M. C., et al. (2006). Arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) deficiency in a newborn: early treatment can prevent phenotypic expression of the disease. *Journal of Pediatrics, 148*(6), 828–830.
  10. Stockler-Ipsiroglu, S., van Karnebeek, C., Longo, N., Korenke, G. C., Mercimek-Mahmutoglu, S., Marquart, I., et al. (2014). Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT) deficiency: outcomes in 48 individuals and recommendations for diagnosis, treatment and monitoring. *Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, 111*, 16–25.
  11. Tarnopolsky, M. A., Mahoney, D. J., Vajsar, J., Rodriguez, C., Doherty, T. J., Roy, B. D., et al. (2004). Creatine monohydrate enhances strength and body composition in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. *Neurology, 62*, 1771–1777.
  12. Greydanus, D. E., & Patel, D. R. (2010). Sports doping in the adolescent: the Faustian conundrum of Hors de Combat. *Pediatric Clinics of North America, 57*, 729–750.
  13. Ranby, K. W., Aiken, L. S., MacKinnon, D. P., Elliot, D. L., Moe, E. L., McGinnis, W., et al. (2009). A Mediation analysis of the ATHENA intervention for female athletes: prevention of athletic-enhancing substance use and unhealthy weight loss behaviors. *Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34*, 1069–1083.
  14. Desbrow, B., McCormack, J., Burke, L. M., Cox, G. R., Fallon, K., Hislop, M., Logan, R., Marino, N., Sawyer, S. M., Shaw, G., Star, A., Vidgen, H., & Leveritt, M. (2014). Sports Dietitians Australia position statement: sports nutrition for the adolescent athlete. *International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 24*(5), 570–584.
  15. Kreider, R. B., et al. (1998). Effects of creatine supplementation on body composition, strength, and sprint performance. *Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 30*(1), 73–82.
  16. Volek, J. S., et al. (2004). The effects of creatine supplementation on muscular performance and body composition responses to short-term resistance training overreaching. *European Journal of Applied Physiology, 91*(5–6), 628–637.
  17. Kreider, R. B., et al. (2003). Long-term creatine supplementation does not significantly affect clinical markers of health in athletes. *Molecular Cell Biochemistry, 244*(1–2), 95–104.
  18. Cancela, P., et al. (2008). Creatine supplementation does not affect clinical health markers in football players. *British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42*(9), 731–735.
  19. Schroder, H., Terrados, N., & Tramullas, A. (2005). Risk assessment of the potential side effects of long-term creatine supplementation in team sport athletes. *European Journal of Nutrition, 44*(4), 255–261.
  20. Greenwood, M., et al. (2003). Creatine supplementation during college football training does not increase the incidence of cramping or injury. *Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 244*(1–2), 83–88.
About the Author

Hanli is a Registered Dietitian with a special interest in sports nutrition. She has a Master's degree and is currently a PhD candidate focusing on adolescent athlete nutrition. She has published research in the Obesity Reviews journal and is a research coordinator at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa.

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