It's no surprise that many teens are interested in taking creatine supplements, with all that they hear from athletes and influencers on social media.

Whether they are high school athletes who want to improve their physical performance or pack on muscle - creatine offers an array of captivating benefits.

Is this popular supplement actually safe for adolescent athletes to consume? Sit back and relax, because we’re going to answer all your questions and more in this guide!

Creatine is not recommended for those under the age of 18.

Three Teenagers Talking

This is largely due to two points: one, the lack of literature on long-term effects in teenagers, and two, the possibility for the creatine supplement to include potentially-dangerous impurities or substances.

There are a lot of misconceptions about performance-enhancing supplements like creatine. Some think they are anabolic steroids or even wonder, "Does creatine stunt growth?"

Neither of those ideas are true. Again, though, the supplement is not recommended for under-18s currently because of the first two points mentioned.

Creatine is naturally occurring in the body and is found in red meat, fish, and poultry. Teens already have creatine in their systems and experience normal growth.

However, with the lack of reliable health information, it's better to play it safe with underage teens and avoid the supplement while they're still developing and growing.

If the teenager in question is already dealing with acne or is susceptible to breakouts, they could also experience more acne breakouts than "normal" by taking creatine.

The supplement doesn't directly cause acne but can indirectly trigger clogged pores and increased oil production.

What Are The Benefits Of Creatine For Teen Athletes?

First, we should address the fact that very little research has been done on creatine supplementation in youth athletes - much less in those under the age of 15.

However, the use of creatine has been shown to improve timed performance and overall strength in swimmers.[1]

Teenager Swimming Under Water

Moreover, it can help boost sprint and skill performance, dribbling, and shooting in soccer players.[2]

A teen athlete supplementing creatine may see not only an improvement in speed, endurance, and muscle strength, but also lean body mass.

Many active adolescents want to gain muscle, and for many teenagers, creatine is just the key.

There may be an initial weight gain in young athletes as the dietary supplement draws water into the muscles, leading to some water retention.

High school athletes may already find these benefits to be great.

Now add on the fact that creatine supplementation can help reduce muscle recovery time and risk of injury, and who wouldn’t want to take it?

Why Is Creatine Intake Bad For Minors? (Side Effects)

Is use of creatine okay for a 15-year-old or a 16-year-old? The safety of creatine supplementation has yet to be researched enough to give a definitive answer.

However, we do know that creatine can come with some serious adverse effects if teen athletes do not perform the loading phase properly or if they already have issues with their liver or kidneys.

Teen athletes are still developing, and a sports nutrition position stand is even more critical at this stage of their lives.

While it's understandable why young athletes would be interested in using performance-enhancing supplements, practice and proper nutrition will be more helpful for their goals in the long run.

You must first have a solid foundation to maintain and improve exercise capacity over a sports career.

While it is legal for teen athletes to purchase and use these dietary supplements, the lack of studies on long-term use makes it just not worth it.

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against it for this reason.[3]

The efficacy of creatine supplementation also varies quite a bit, depending on the person.

If the athlete in question isn’t using a high-quality creatine supplement, their product could even be mixed with unknown substances that could cause further harm.

Now, let’s talk a bit about the more commonly-reported side effects, including but not limited to:

  • Body weight increase
  • Joint stiffness
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stomach pains
  • Worsened kidney function
  • Bloated face/potential increase in acne
  • Water retention

Of course, these side effects aren't guaranteed to happen, and most times, they don't.

Learn More - Can Creatine Cause Stomach Pain? (How To Stop It)

How Do You Explain To A Teen What Creatine Is?

Creatine is crucial for energy production and is an amino acid naturally found in the body - specifically in muscle cells and the brain.

It is also found in red meat and seafood. For example, about 1 pound of uncooked beef or salmon includes approximately 1 to 2 grams of creatine.

Learn More - What Foods Have Creatine? (Where To Find The Best Sources)

From a sports nutrition position standpoint, it's ideal to first meet your nutritional requirements through a dialed-in diet before resorting to workout supplements.

Pure creatine is also essential for making adenosine triphosphate, or “ATP,” which is required for all types of exercise and muscle movement.[4]

Creatine supplementation improves the rate at which “energy” is regenerated, helping more specifically with high-intensity exercise.

However, creatine powder or creatine monohydrate is a nutritional supplement for adult athletes/bodybuilders, which can help increase lean muscle mass, muscle strength, and overall athletic performance.

In addition, many creatine users see an increase in exercise performance and body composition after a month.

Creatine in Grilled Fish and Meat

How Should A Teenager Take Creatine? (Dosage Instructions)

The use of creatine under the age of 18 is not prohibited. Creatine isn’t on a banned substances list for athletes - even high school athletes.

While many sports medicine experts don’t recommend it at this age, if the athlete in question is going to do it anyway, it’s important to do so safely.

So, how much creatine should youth athletes take?

A teen under the age of 18 should consume no more than 3 to 5 grams of creatine per day if they don’t have issues with high blood pressure, diabetes, or other conditions that could be affected negatively through creatine use.

Learn More - How Much Creatine Should I Take? | Garage Gym Pro

We do not recommend creatine loading for youth athletes.

After a few weeks to a month of creatine use of this quantity, athletes will already start to see the results they’d get from creatine loading, anyway. 

Make sure the teen is drinking enough water, as they’ll likely be training hard. Not to mention, creatine does put you at a greater risk of dehydration.

What Alternatives Are Available For Teens Instead Of Taking Creatine?

  • A Healthy Diet
    As we mentioned earlier in this guide, for a teen athlete, the best tool possible is proper nutrition through a balanced diet. A nutritional supplement is going to make little difference if this is lacking. When a teen takes in the right amount of carbs, fats, protein, and calories for their goals, their cognitive performance and anaerobic performance will be much more likely to improve.
  • Amino Acids
    In addition, amino acids could be a great sports medicine supplement, as they're essential for building muscle. They offer many benefits of creatine, such as reduced recovery time and increased muscle growth, without the potential risks.
  • Protein Powder
    Whey protein powder is also safe, can offer athletes a physical advantage, and helps build muscle.[5There are many healthy adults who take it, but the young athlete can also consume it without worrying about side effects.

Creatine For Teens Common FAQs

What kind of creatine supplement should you buy for teen athletes?

If you are planning on purchasing a creatine supplement for your teen, please make sure to get a high-quality supplement. Look at reviews, and try to get a pure creatine monohydrate that has been rated well over time. This can make all the difference in results as well as minimize negative effects.

Can you buy creatine under 18?

So, how old do you have to be to buy creatine? There are actually no legal restrictions on the sale of creatine supplements. That means a child can go into health food stores or supplement stores and purchase it without a parent or guardian's permission.

What age is creatine supplementation generally safe?

Creatine use is generally safe for people 18 and older. On some performance-enhancing supplement creatine products, you may see that labels warn against people under 18 using them. We always recommend speaking with your physician or a registered sports nutritionist before starting any supplement.

Conclusion

Now that you have a good understanding of whether or not creatine is safe for kids to consume, you'll be able to make a solid, educated decision on whether or not your child takes it.

If you do, start with a smaller dose and let their physician know that they're taking it.

References: 

  1. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsnem/7/4/article-p330.xml
  2. https://europepmc.org/article/med/15129933
  3. https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/108/2/421/63924/Creatine-Use-Among-Young-Athletes?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  4. https://www.britannica.com/science/adenosine-triphosphate
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/833.html
Miloš Lepotic

Miloš Lepotic

Meet Miloš, a certified sports nutritionist and self-taught supplement expert whose pharmacological background and nearly a decade of gym experience make him the perfect guide for optimizing your health and athletic performance through supplement reviews and practical advice rooted in factual, science-backed information.