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Today creatine is perhaps the most popular sports supplement in the world of performance nutrition. And for good reason. According to Dr. Richard Kreider, a researcher at Texas A&M and one of the world’s foremost authorities on creatine monohydrate, “About 80% of studies show that creatine supplementation results in statistically significant improvements in exercise performance – with none of the studies showing any adverse effects.”
It’s impressive, research-backed results like these, in Dr. Kreider’s estimation, that have creatine well on its way to becoming the most widely used natural performance-enhancing substance in the history of modern man. So all’s well that ends well, right? Well, yes and no.
All the manufacturers battling for shares of this burgeoning market have driven prices down, but some distributors, according to industry experts, will do almost anything to increase profit ability – even if it means purchasing and then selling on the American market cheap, low-grade creatine imported from the People’s Republic of China. Chinese creatine which, according to recent High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) purity tests, may contain impurities at such ridiculously high levels that it could potentially pose a health risk to unsuspecting consumers.
On a positive note, reputable industry leaders such as TeamANR have refused to compromise quality for profit and won’t have anything to do with these Chinese creatine manufacturers. Instead, we do business only with manufacturers who regularly test their product for impurities and adhere to the strictest of manufacturing practices, including stringent quality control.
Unfortunately for consumers, however, other distributors – those seemingly driven only by the “bottom line” – aren’t so honorable. And because it’s not required that companies print on product labels exactly where and how their creatine was manufactured, differentiating the wheat from the chaff – the quality from the crud, if you will – can be a tall order indeed.
But in an effort to expose the real story of this increasingly popular industry-wide practice, we’re revealing the truth behind these questionable Chinese creatine manufacturing methods and exactly what impurities have been found in these imported products. Equally important, we’ll share how you can make sure you’re getting pure, high-quality creatine monohydrate and nothing else.
Chinese Creatine: Is It Created Equal?
“Off-white, almost yellowish, emanating a sulfuric smell that stunk to high heaven.” That’s how Ed Holstein, vice president of Pfanstheil Laboratories, describes the rude awakening his senses experienced recently upon opening a large batch of Chinese-manufactured creatine monohydrate.
In spite of these occurrences, Holstein says many companies offering discounted creatine at retailers like Walmart and even GNC are buying up and distributing this cheap creatine in order to offer cheaper prices than the creatine products sold by reputable companies that are buying quality creatine produced domestically and in Germany. The companies currently selling products containing Chinese creatine defend their actions by suggesting that Chinese manufactures have “cleaned up their act,” so to speak.
In fact, one distributor, quoted in a report issued recently by the U.S. International Trade Commission, went so far as to claim, “U.S. producers are upset because quality differences between U.S. and Chinese creatine no longer exist.”
However, recent clinical tests conducted on this imported product tell a different story. According to High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) tests – considered by scientists to be the gold standard for screening creatine for quality and purity – some batches of Chinese creatine are consistently showing significant amounts of four impurities: thiourea, dihydrotriazine, dicyandiamide, and creatinine. Some of which may potentially pose a health risk to some unsuspecting consumers.
A recent HPLC test performed on one batch of creatine produced in Nanjing, China, revealed levels of dicyandiamide registering at 18,000 ppm. A white crystalline compound used primarily in fertilizers and detergents, dicyandiamide does not appear to be particularly toxic, according to toxicological tests performed on laboratory animals. Nevertheless, it is of no benefit in creatine products.
Creatinine is a by-product of creatine production and is generally found at levels not exceeding 50 ppm in most high-quality creatine products. While most likely not harmful, some batches of Chinese creatine have tested at unusually high levels for creatinine. One batch from Jiangsu, China, recently tested for impurities had levels of creatinine registering 1,500 ppm. Ingested creatinine is waste for the body and is excreted by the kidneys.
Becoming Quality Conscious
Despite the fact that some supplement companies continue to sell cheap Chinese creatine to unsuspecting consumers, the good news is there are still plenty of other companies like TeamANR that refuse to compromise quality for profit. We've made it a point to avoid Chinese creatine at all costs and buy, albeit at a higher price, creatine only from U.S. and German manufacturers – manufacturers that adhere to strict processing practices and that have a proven track record of turning out quality creatine free of impurities.
Make no mistake, high-quality creatine monohydrate is still the best thing going in the world of performance nutrition. According to Dr. Kreider, more than 200 clinical studies lasting anywhere from three days to three years have been done on creatine, with none reporting any adverse effects.
Dr. Paul Greenhaff, a widely respected researcher at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and one of the world’s leading experts on creatine supplementation, says, “The majority of scientific evidence supports the assertion that creatine is indeed a safe and effective supplement.” If there is one thing the experts agree on, it’s that creatine monohydrate is a clinically effective and medically safe performance-nutrition supplement – provided that it’s pure, high-quality creatine monohydrate and nothing else.