Possible causes of low creatinine levels are low muscle mass, liver problems, dietary factors, and pregnancy. If creatine levels are low, it could indicate that the liver or muscles are not working as they should.
When the body uses a compound called creatine for energy, the process creates creatinine as a waste product.
Low creatinine levels often result from muscle loss, pregnancy, illness, or malnutrition. by contrast, high creatinine levels may indicate an issue with kidney function.
This article discusses what creatinine levels mean, and what can lead to abnormal results.
Creatine, a substance found in muscle tissue, has gained popularity as a dietary supplement due to evidence that it may improve short-term intense athletic performance.
When creatine breaks down as it is used for energy, creatinine is created as a waste product.
They are also dependent on blood volume. Someone who is dehydrated, for example, will have a higher creatinine than someone with a normal blood volume.
Low creatinine levels could indicate a problem with the muscles or liver but may be due to something less serious, such as reduced muscle mass in older adults, drinking too much water (psychogenic polydipsia), or pregnancy.
Creatinine is always present in the bloodstream, where the kidneys remove it from the body through the urine.
The test uses a timed urine sample, which means that all the urine someone passes in a set time period, such as 24 hours, is collected and tested to show how much creatinine has been removed from the body by the kidneys.
There are four key causes of low creatinine:
- low muscle mass
- liver problems
- pregnancy or illness
Low muscle mass
Creatinine levels are often linked with muscle mass or the amount of muscle in the body, which can decrease with age or illness.
Low levels may indicate a loss of muscle density, which can happen naturally with age.
The liver makes creatine – meaning that reduced liver function
Although the body produces creatine independently, it can also
Creatine is mostly found in meat, so those who follow a vegetarian or low protein diet may have lower levels than meat eaters. In these instances, supplementation
A prolonged period of not eating or having an illness that prevents someone from eating could be another cause of low creatinine levels.
Pregnancy is often a cause of low creatinine levels, which should return to normal after a woman has given birth.
Symptoms of low creatinine will vary depending on the underlying condition but can include:
- Low muscle mass: Lack of strength, difficulty exercising, a thin or frail body.
- Liver disease: Inflamed liver, which may cause pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, fatigue, or nausea.
- Diet-related: Feeling faint or dizzy, losing weight.
Typically, symptoms are unlikely to point clearly to low creatinine levels and could indicate other health problems.
A medical professional may test creatinine levels as part of an evaluation if needed.
High creatinine levels usually mean that there is too much creatine in the body or that creatinine is not being filtered and removed from the body properly.
High levels may indicate a kidney problem, as these organs remove waste products from the body to keep the blood clean.
Creatinine levels often rise during intense exercise, as more creatine is burned for energy, or because someone may eat a high protein diet.
Learn more about high creatinine levels here.
Low creatinine levels may indicate various different conditions, so a doctor will use test results alongside other checks to work out what the underlying issue could be.
In cases of low creatinine levels due to liver disease, treatment may involve medication or lifestyle changes. These changes could include eating a more healthful diet and giving up alcohol.
If someone has a muscle disease, treatment may include physical therapy, medication, or surgery to support them to remain mobile.
How to increase creatinine levels
Exercising, eating large amounts of cooked meats, and taking creatine supplements can all increase creatinine levels, providing a person has normal liver function.
Below are frequently asked questions about creatinine levels.
Should I worry if my creatinine is low?
Low creatinine levels can indicate liver or a loss of muscle mass. Illnesses and pregnancy can also reduce serum creatinine levels. Some studies also associate vegetarian and vegan diets with reductions in muscle mass and creatinine levels.
What level of creatinine is concerning?
A person’s age, sex, race, and overall health can affect what is a ‘normal’ creatinine level for them. However, 0.63 – 1.16 mg/dL for men and 0.48-0.93 mg/dL for women is a typical range.
How do you stop low creatinine?
Increasing creatinine intake through diet or supplements and exercising more are natural ways to increase creatinine levels.