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Is creatine safe for teens?

Even if you’re not a body builder, you’ve probably heard of creatine -- and those who use it, swear by it. But no one should put supplements into their body without weighing the risks and benefits.

We recently received this question from a concerned viewer:

Dear Dr. Manny,
My 17-year-old son is interested in taking creatine. Is it safe?
Thanks,
Linda

Creatine is a combination of amino acids produced naturally in the body by the liver, kidneys and pancreas. It can also be found in the protein-rich foods we eat, like meat and fish.

It reduces muscle fatigue by transporting extra energy to the body’s cells, and causes water weight gain – which can make muscles appear larger.

“Creatine supplementation has not been adequately studied in those under 18 years old,” said Elizabeth DeRobertis, a registered dietician and nutritionist. “So for that reason, it is not recommended that your son try creatine.

Once he turns 18, DeRobertis added, it’s important that he know a few things:

1. Creatine has been found to be effective in short-duration, high-intensity exercises, like sprinting.

2. He should be involved in competitive athletics if he does decide to try creatine, and he should let his coach know, his health care professional know, and of course, his parents know.

3. It’s also important that he drink enough water during the day, because creatine may contribute to dehydration – so he should drink at least 64 ounces of water every day.

4. He should not combine creatine with any other supplement, especially those containing caffeine or ephedra.

As always, it’s important to talk to your doctor before making any diet or lifestyle changes.

Do you have a question for Dr. Manny? Send it to DrManny@foxnews.com.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's Senior Managing Editor for Health News. Prior to this position, Alvarez was a FNC medical contributor.
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