We're putting our new editing team to the test by bringing a battery of updates to one of our most popular pages: creatine. This round of research brings new information to the table in regard to creatine’s influence on cardiovascular health, including its effects on the heart, blood flow, plaque buildup and much more. What we found might surprise you.
It seems that creatine is a cardioprotective agent. This has to do with creatine suppression, since supplementing creatine does put a damper on how much creatine the body produces. And yes, this is a good thing. Creating creatine requires a fair bit of one particular molecule: S-adenosyl methionine, or SAMe. Suppressing its own synthesis appears to cause a refractory increase in whole body SAMe levels. This also preserves trimethylglycine levels in the body, so creatine supplementation appears to confer a bit of benefit in terms of increasing the bodily levels of both of these supplements.
The main topic being fleshed out is creatine’s possible reductive effect on homocysteine. While homocysteine is a biomarker for cardiovascular diseases and atherosclerosis, it may not be a causative molecule, meaning a reduction in homocysteine may be indicative of other benefits, but the reduction of homocysteine itself is not beneficial per se. Creatine does appear to reduce homocysteine levels, but it is not yet known if this means a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.
This finding, combined with creatine’s ability to increase the energy status of endothelial cells (those that line the arteries and veins), which results in less molecular adhesion, suggests that creatine is protective against plaque buildup. There is not enough evidence to claim that it’s a good intervention right now, but it is a nice side-effect of supplementation.
Surprisingly, the clear increase in triglycerides seen with trimethylglycine supplementation might not occur with creatine. We say 'might not' because the results we’ve examined have varying results, but there is the possibility that the increased usage of fatty acids in peripheral tissue (body fat and contracting muscle) seen with creatine supplementation could negate the triglyceride increase seen with TMG. TMG increases triglyceride levels because it causes an efflux of triglycerides from the liver (the fatty acids have to go somewhere),which leads us to another preliminary, but surprising benefit of creatine.