Can Creatine Cause High Liver Enzymes?

Enzymes are specialized proteins in your body that support life by vastly increasing the speed of a wide range of basic chemical reactions. Your liver contains three prominent enzymes that can appear in elevated amounts in your bloodstream when your liver cells are damaged. Creatine, a substance naturally produced in your body and used in supplement form to improve athletic performance, does not appear to trigger liver enzyme elevation. Consult your doctor before using supplemental creatine.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Creatine Basics

Your body makes its internal creatine supply in your liver, as well as in your pancreas gland and kidneys. After creatine is created, it gets converted into another substance called phosphocreatine, or creatine phosphate, and sent to your muscles for storage. When you engage in sprinting, weightlifting or any other exercise that requires high levels of exertion for short periods of time, your body converts creatine phosphate into a major energy source called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Supplemental forms of creatine work in essentially the same way, and are available in products that include:

  • tablets
  • energy bars
  • powders
  • tablets
  • drink mixes
  • liquids

Liver Enzyme Basics

The liver enzymes that doctors first look for in your bloodstream when assessing your liver function are alanine aminotransferase, or ALT; aspartate aminotransferase, or AST; and alkaline phosphatase, or ALP. Doctors use GGT levels to help determine the underlying causes of ALP elevations. LDH levels can rise if you have liver damage or damage in other tissues in your body.

Enzyme Elevation Causes

In most cases, enzyme elevations are not caused by serious, ongoing alterations in your liver function.

Creatine's Effects

Creatine supplements are meant for people age 19 or older, and have not been studied in adolescents or children, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC 3. A 2002 study published in the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” examined the effects of creatine supplementation on ALT, AST and ALP in college football players 4. The authors of the study reported no change in the levels of any of these enzymes. ; February 2003'). Still, the UMMC identifies liver dysfunction as a potential consequence of prolonged creatine use. Before you use creatine, ask your doctor about its potential liver-related effects.