Supplements these days are getting pretty complex. Some, if not most, you may not know how they’re produced. I didn’t either, so I did some research. How is creatine made?
Creatine is created in the liver by combining 3 amino acids together (glycine, arginine, and methionine). Supplemental creatine is synthesized in a lab by combining sarcosine, cyanamide, and other chemical catalysts.
Of course, it gets more complicated than that. The creation of creatine is a much longer process than can be explained in two sentences. That’s why, down below, I’ll break down each of these processes into easy-to-understand concepts because they’re very different from each other.
How Creatine Is Made as a Supplement
As I mentioned before, the processes for creating creatine are very different when we’re talking about how it’s made in the body, and how it’s made for supplements.
When we’re talking about supplemental creatine, it’s made in a large facility or laboratory. The process starts by taking sarcosine (N-methylglycine), an amino acid, and cyanamide, which is commonly used in the creation of pharmaceuticals and supplements.
After this step, the creatine has been created, along with some other chemical byproducts. The next step is to purify the crude creatine.
Next, the raw or crude creatine is purified by recrystallization. This sounds confusing, but don’t worry, it’s really not.
First, the creatine is diluted into a solution at a high temperature, which leaves behind and filters out any other elements that may still be around from the first step.
Then, the solution is cooled back down, and the creatine recrystallizes in a more pure form.
See, not so bad, right?
How Creatine Is Made in the Body
In your body, creatine is made in the liver. Here, three amino acids (glycine, arginine, and methionine) are combined to create creatine phosphate.
After the creatine is produced, it’s stored in your muscles, where it’s ready to be used. In your muscle cells, you have creatine reserves. These reserves are constantly used up by exercise or day to day activity, and filled up by either this process, your diet, or supplementing with creatine.
Your body does a good job of keeping these reserves filled up, but it doesn’t do the best job possible. While your body produces enough creatine to keep you running efficiently, it doesn’t totally fill them.
This is where creatine supplements come in.
When you take creatine, you’re simply helping your body out to fill up your reserves to the max. Whatever’s leftover simply leaves your body.
This helps to get the maximum benefits possible from creatine and pick up the slack that your natural creatine or your diet can’t fill. Especially if you’re a vegan/vegetarian, you’re not getting enough creatine from your diet and supplementing can help you out.
I actually wrote another article on why vegan lifters need to take creatine, so check out that one next if that applies to you!
Next, I’ll get more into how your diet affects how much creatine you’re actually getting.
Creatine in Your Diet
You get creatine through your diet by eating meat. Animals produce creatine naturally just like we do, so when you eat meat, you’re getting creatine from them.
Just like humans, when animals create creatine themselves, it’s stored in their muscle cells. This muscle then becomes the meat that we eat, thereby transferring its creatine to you!
Unfortunately for vegans, creatine only really comes from meat. There are no substantial sources of dietary creatine other than meat.
This being said, even when we are talking about meat, not every animal is the same. Some types of meat have substantially more creatine than others. If you’re interested in which ones I wrote another article on the top 8 natural sources of creatine.
Where Creatine Supplements Come From
Most creatine supplements are made in the USA, Germany, or China. However, they are not all made the same.
Chinese creatine is notorious for lower production quality. This is for two reasons; cheaper production, and more lax manufacturing laws.
Germany, on the other hand, has a reputation for making probably the best creatines overall. Manufacturing guidelines and regulations in Germany are very strict, and ensure that everything is clean and of high quality.
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This usually leaves the USA somewhere in the middle, although each individual company is different.
This comes at an expense though. German creatine may be the best, but it’s also the most expensive. In my opinion, it’s worth it to pay a little more to make sure that you’re getting a high-quality supplement.
Especially when we’re talking about supplements that you’re putting into your body, it’s always worth it to pay a few more dollars here and there.
Making Creatine Is Expensive
Personally, I’ve explored the idea of starting a line of creatine, but I didn’t want to do some private labeling thing where the supplements you sell are identical to 20 other companies on the market. If I was gonna do it, I wanted to do it right.
However, the facilities needed to produce creatine are expensive! I don’t have an exact cost to give you, but just take a look at the factories needed to make it. Down below, I’ll include a video tour of a creatine manufacturing facility in Germany.
Because creatine requires large facilities to produce, the price is often high. However, it’s still possible to find good quality creatine for a good price. If you’re looking for a new brand of creatine, I searched the entire market to find the best ones out there. Check that out too if you’re interested!
Now, here’s the tour of a German creatine facility from Creapure, one of the top creatine companies. It’s pretty short, and really gives you a good idea of what goes into the making of creatine.
Creatine Is Made From Amino Acids (Usually)
Creatine is an amino acid derivative. So are protein, BCAA’s, and many of the other supplements that you may take. This just means that they are made from amino acids, with the exception of BCAA’s, which are actually just the amino acids themselves.
When creatine is made in your body, the compounds used to create it, glycine, arginine, and methionine, are all amino acids.
Earlier, I mentioned that you can only get creatine in your diet through eating meat. While this is true, you can also increase your body’s ability to produce creatine by eating foods with these amino acids in them.
This means that even if you don’t eat meat, and for some reason don’t want to take creatine supplements, you can still increase your creatine levels, naturally!