Creatine’s Contaminants

June 3, 2002


1- Featured Article:
Does creatine contain contaminants?

2- Anthony’s Training Tip:
To Gain More, Eat More After Your Workouts!

Some creatine producers cut corners during chemical synthesis in order to maximize profits – a fact, that is evidenced by the increased incidence of certain impurities in cheaper brands of creatine. In this issue of the Creatine Newsletter we discuss the possible contaminants present in lower quality brands of creatine.

Also this month Anthony Ellis teaches us how to time our meals in order to create the optimal muscle-building environment for muscle growth.
Learn more about Anthony Ellis and his muscle-building program.

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This Month’s Featured Article:

Does creatine contain contaminants?

Creatine monohydrate is produced commercially by mixing sodium sarcosine and cyanamide in a warm water bath. Although this may sound simple, it isn’t. If sufficient care isn’t taken certain impurities, or contaminants, may be produced. These contaminants are particularly evident for cheaper brands of creatine.

One common contaminant of cheaper brands of creatine is Dicyandiamide (DCD), a derivative of cyanamide. DCD is produced if creatine synthesis is not taken to completion. In the presence of strong acid DCD converts into hydrogen cyanide, which is of obvious concern to any creatine user, since hydrogen cyanide is toxic. The potential danger is that stomach acid might similarly produce hydrogen cyanide from DCD in creatine brands containing large amounts of this contaminant.

The presence of DCD gives creatine a bitter taste. This is why pure creatine is sometimes descriptively referred to as “sweet”. Sweetness, however, should not be used as a measure of purity since many cheaper creatine mixtures also contain sugars making them sweet tasting.

Dihydrotriazine: Dihydrotriazine (DHT) is another possible contaminant of poorer grades of creatine. DHT belongs to a class of compounds collectively known as triazines; some triazines are toxic while others are not. Similarly, DHT is produced from incomplete chemical synthesis of creatine. The consequences of elevated levels of DHT in the body are unclear and further scientific research is required in this respect.

Note: This is not the DHT (dihydrotestosterone) that is produced from testosterone and gives rise to secondary sexual characteristics in males at puberty.

Creatinine: Elevated levels of creatinine (CRN) are also found in cheaper brands of creatine. CRN is the natural degradation product of creatine produced in the body or in creatine that has surpassed its expiration date. Although harmless, CRN possess no physical benefit.

Sodium: Finally, sodium may also be present in elevated quantities if creatine synthesis is not terminated properly. Sodium in large doses can lead to excess water retention and hypertension.

Acceptable levels: The level of impurities in creatine products are often given in parts per million (ppm). Acceptable levels of most contaminants are in the range of 50-100 ppm; obviously, even less is better. On the other hand, some cheaper brands of creatine contain contaminants in the range of 3000-4000 ppm (!!), which poses a real threat when consuming large doses of creatine as recommended by some sources.

It is thus important that you purchase only quality creatine products. Full descriptions of creatine’s possible contaminants as well as the best producers of high quality creatine internationally are discussed in Creatine: A practical guide. Alternatively, visit our side effects page for a somewhat less detailed discussion about potential impurities and contaminants sometimes present in commercially available creatine products.

Conclusions: Caution is advised, especially during the loading phase when greater amounts of creatine are being consumed on a daily basis. A person loading with a poorer quality creatine product could potentially be taking in grams of contaminants per week. Cheaper brands of creatine literally dilute the actual amount of “real creatine” with contaminants making them a huge waste of money and potentially dangerous.

Anthony’s Training Tips:
To Gain More, Eat More After Your Workouts!

For those trying to gain mass, your post workout meal, should be the most important meal of your day. First you must eat to prevent muscle breakdown during this period. After exercise, your body has an accelerated metabolic rate. If you do not eat during this time, it can result in muscle tissue breakdown. Second, research has shown that protein synthesis doubles following exercise and remains elevated for up to 24 hours. Your body is ready to build more protein for muscle growth, you simply need to provide the amino acids.

Finally, following your workout, you must be sure to ingest plenty of carbohydrates. After exercise, your body has depleted its glycogen stores. It has been shown that high-glycemic carbohydrates like maltodextrin and dextrose are the preferred source to replenish the body’s energy stores. These stores must be replenished to stop muscle breakdown and help begin muscle repair.

Get more muscle building tips from Anthony at Muscle Building Coach.

Still have questions about creatine? You'll probably find the answers in my ebook!

Creatine: a practical guide will teach you how to use creatine safely and effectively for greatest muscle growth. You'll learn: how to design your own personalized dosing protocol, what to eat (and what not to eat) and other methods to make the greatest muscle gains, at the lowest price. Also, find out whether expensive creatine formulations are really worth the money!

All for less than the cost of your monthly creatine!

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