Creatinine is the chemical waste product of an amino acid called creatine that is produced and stored by the liver. Creatinine levels are usually an indication of normal muscle metabolism. It usually enters your blood after it is broken down. Your kidneys then remove it from your bloodstream before creatinine finally exits your body through urine. This entire process is responsible for maintaining normal creatinine levels in your body.
The normal levels of creatinine usually vary for different body sizes and muscle mass. The normal range of creatinine level for men is within 0.6 and 1.2 mg/dl, whereas for women, it is between 0.5 and 1.1 mg/dl (1). Any levels lower or higher than this could be an indication of deteriorating muscles.
Low creatinine levels could be an indication of loss of muscle mass that can occur due to various reasons. To know more about what could trigger this loss and how you can restore your creatinine levels to normal, continue reading.
Let us now take a look at the signs and symptoms of low creatinine levels.
Table Of Contents
Symptoms And Causes Of Low Creatinine
The signs and symptoms of low creatinine levels are usually associated with an underlying medical condition. They include:
- Muscle diseases like muscular dystrophy that can lead to symptoms like muscle weakness, stiffened muscles, pain, and reduced movement.
- Liver diseases or poor functioning of the liver can also interfere with the production of creatine, thereby causing low creatinine levels. This may lead to symptoms like jaundice, abdominal swelling and pain, swelling, and pale/tar-colored/bloody stool.
- Low creatinine levels can also be caused due to loss of water from your body (dehydration). This could either be due to an excess of water intake, pregnancy, or even due to certain medications.
As you already know, the breakdown of muscle tissues produces creatinine. Therefore, low levels of this chemical waste (creatinine) could be an indication of low muscle mass – a risk factor for low creatinine levels.
To determine your creatinine levels, your doctor or healthcare provider may use multiple diagnostic tests.
One of the options to determine your creatinine levels is a serum creatinine test that can help measure the creatinine levels in your bloodstream.
Another option is a creatinine urine test that will test your urine to determine your creatinine levels.
Once the diagnostic test reveals your creatinine levels, your doctor will suggest a treatment plan. Low creatinine levels may need further diagnostic tests to rule out a muscular disease (if any). A muscle biopsy or a muscle enzyme test may be conducted to look for muscle damage.
Once the cause of your low creatinine levels is determined, your doctor will discuss the treatment options available to treat your condition.
If you are found to have an underlying muscle disease, your treatment will be focused on combating the condition and alleviating its symptoms. Some of the options to treat muscle diseases include taking corticosteroids that can help in strengthening your muscles or therapy to improve the quality of your remaining life (3).
Low creatinine levels that occur due to pregnancy are usually normalized after delivery.
If your low creatinine levels are not due to an underlying muscle disease, medical intervention may not be necessary.
Other Treatment Options
If the low creatinine levels are not a result of muscle disease, your doctor may recommend a few ways that can help in increasing and strengthening your muscle mass to normalize your creatinine levels without medications.
They may ask you to increase your level of physical activity or do strength training exercises regularly to increase your muscle mass.
You can also try:
If your doctor doubts that your low muscle mass is a result of malnutrition or extreme weight loss or dieting, you may be asked to modify your diet to rebuild the lost muscles. Listed below are some diet tips that can help increase your creatinine levels by increasing your muscle mass.
Diet For Low Creatinine Levels
Start by eating 5-6 small but healthy meals daily. Your diet must consist of protein-rich foods like lean meat, seafood, milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, and soy. Vegetarians are more likely to be protein-deficient that non-vegetarians. Hence, they should consume alternative sources of protein to make up for it. Avoid alcohol as it can accelerate muscle loss (4).
You can also practice some muscle-building exercises to improve your muscle mass.
Note: You may take supplements (like creatine monohydrate) to improve creatinine levels in your body. Good creatinine levels help enhance athletic performance, keep your muscles and bones healthy as your age, and improve brain health.
Exercises To Improve Low Muscle Mass
Some exercises that can help improve muscle mass are (5):
- Lifting weights
- Military press
- Seated dumbbell press
- Bench press
- Leg raises
- Weighted abdominal crunches
While some of these exercises, like squats and lunges, can be done right at home, you may need to go to a gym to do the others.
Here are some tips that can help prevent muscle loss.
- Follow a healthy diet that contains important nutrients, like vitamin D.
- Workout regularly.
- Get sufficient sleep.
- Don’t cut down on your carbohydrate intake.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Drink enough water to prevent dehydration.
Low creatinine levels are usually easy to restore, especially when they are not caused by an underlying medical issue. The tips and exercises discussed will help improve your muscle mass in the long run. However, it is best to stick to the treatment plan provided by your doctor if your low creatinine levels are due to an underlying muscular disease.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
What is the creatinine level for kidney failure?
The normal serum creatinine levels are supposed to be 0.5-1.1 mg/dl in women, and 0.6-1.2 mg/dl in men. Creatinine levels higher than this could be an indication of kidney damage.
Is a creatinine level of 1.2 bad?
A serum creatinine level of 1.2 mg/dl is clinically insignificant.
What is the best thing to drink for your kidneys?
Water is one of the best drinks for promoting the health of your kidneys. Other drinks include fruit juices like cranberry juice and lemon juice that can help in detoxifying your kidneys and preventing the formation of kidney stones.
What does low creatinine indicate?
Low levels of creatinine may indicate muscle loss or an underlying medical condition like muscular dystrophy.
- Hosten, Adrian O. “BUN and Creatinine.” Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd Edition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1990.
- Yildiz, Abdulmecit, and Fatih Tufan. “Lower creatinine as a marker of malnutrition and lower muscle mass in hemodialysis patients.” Clinical Interventions in aging 10 1593.
- Hanada, Masatoshi et al. “Effect of long-term treatment with corticosteroids on skeletal muscle strength, functional exercise capacity and health status in patients with interstitial lung disease.” Respirology (Carlton, Vic.) 21,6 (2016): 1088-93.
- Vargas, Roberto, and Charles H Lang. “Alcohol accelerates loss of muscle and impairs recovery of muscle mass resulting from disuse atrophy.” Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research 32,1 (2008): 128-37.
- Tipton, Kevin D, and Arny A Ferrando. “Improving muscle mass: response of muscle metabolism to exercise, nutrition and anabolic agents.” Essays in Biochemistry 44 (2008): 85-98.
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