School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Museum Avenue, Cardiff CF11 3AX, UK.
Introduction: Ageing is associated with decreased muscle mass, strength, power and function, and reduction in bone density and mineral content, leading to reduced independence and increased risk of falls. Creatine supplementation is reported to improve muscular strength and performance with training in younger athletes, and therefore could benefit older individuals.
Aims: This review critically appraises the current literature on whether creatine supplementation enhances muscular performance and function, body composition, bone mineral density and content in older adults without the addition of resistance training, and thus determines whether creatine supplementation can lead to an improved lifestyle for the sedentary elderly population.
Results: There is conflicting evidence regarding the usefulness of creatine supplementation in older subjects. Generally, however, creatine supplementation, without associated resistance training, seems to enhance muscular strength, power and endurance, increase lean body mass (LBM) and improve the functional capacity of the elderly. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that increased muscle mass due to creatine supplementation can result in increased local bone density. It appears that the effect of creatine supplementation is more beneficial in larger muscles and less effective in smaller muscles, however there are exceptions. The mechanism by which creatine supplementation works requires further research, however it is likely that the effects of creatine are related to creatine kinase activity, providing enhanced energy production for greater muscular contraction.
Conclusions: These data indicate that creatine supplementation without associated training in the elderly could potentially delay atrophy of muscle mass, improve endurance and strength, and increase bone strength, and thus may be a safe therapeutic strategy to help decrease loss in functional performance of everyday tasks.