Creatinine: What High Levels Mean and How to Lower Creatinine Naturally

Medically Reviewed By Jared Meacham, Ph.D., RD, PMP, CSCS
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Creatinine is a waste product from metabolizing creatine, an amino acid that supplies energy to muscles. The kidneys are responsible for filtering creatinine from the blood and excreting it in urine. High creatinine levels, as tested from the blood or urine, may indicate kidney concerns or other health issues or causes. Lowering creatinine levels involves treating the underlying condition. There are also natural ways to help lower high creatinine levels.

This article explains what creatinine is, how it differs from creatine, and how you can maintain healthy creatinine levels.

What is creatinine?

Creatinine is a waste product made by your muscles. The kidneys filter creatinine from the blood and release it from the body through the urine. If there is an issue with the kidneys, creatinine can build up in the blood, causing atypical signs and symptoms.

Creatine, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring amino acid made by the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. It is also found in certain foods, such as meat and fish.

The body converts creatine into creatine phosphate. It is stored in the muscles and later used for energy. Because of this effect, creatine supplements are popular among bodybuilders and performance athletes.

What are the symptoms of high creatinine levels?

Symptoms of high creatinine levels may indicate kidney disease. Some common symptoms of high creatinine levels include:

How do you test for creatinine levels?

Doctors order blood or urine tests to check creatinine levels. The test for creatinine in the bloodstream is called a serum creatinine test, the National Kidney Foundation explains. The test for creatinine in the urine is called a creatinine clearance test.

Serum creatinine test

A blood test can check for serum creatinine. You will go to a lab, where a technician will insert a small needle into your arm and draw your blood into a small tube. The lab will then process the blood sample.

This test has minimal risk, aside from a small amount of bleeding at the needle insertion site.

The normal range for a serum creatinine test is 0.5–1.1 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) for females and 0.7-1.3 mg/dL for males.

Creatinine clearance test

A creatinine clearance test is a timed urine sample. It requires you to collect all the urine you pass within a certain period of time, usually 24 hours.

The results of the creatinine clearance test show how much creatinine has passed through your kidneys into your urine. This helps show how well your kidneys remove waste products from your urine.

The normal range for a creatinine clearance test is 90–140mL/min/1.73m2.

What does a high creatinine level mean?

High creatinine levels often indicate kidney disease or other underlying conditions. Some examples include:

Learn more about the relationship between diabetes, high creatinine levels, and kidney disease.

What else can raise creatinine levels?

Other things that can temporarily raise creatinine levels include:

  • dehydration
  • diets high in red meat
  • strenuous exercise
  • muscle injuries
  • creatine supplement, such as that found in some protein shakes
  • certain prescription medications

How can you lower creatinine levels?

The treatment for high creatinine levels depends on the condition or cause.

For bacterial kidney infections, antibiotics can help lower high creatinine levels by treating the infection. If chronic kidney disease causes high creatinine levels, dialysis treatment can help filter the waste products from the kidneys.

There are also ways to naturally lower creatinine levels. Many of these can be done at home.

Avoid creatine supplements

Creatine supplements are commonly used to help improve energy levels and performance in bodybuilders and professional athletes. As the body breaks down creatine, it forms creatinine as a waste product. Too much creatine can cause increased levels of creatinine in the blood and urine, according to 2014 research.

Watch your protein intake

Eating too much protein can cause temporarily increased levels of creatinine. Creatine is found in many protein sources, such as meat and fish, and elevated levels of creatine can also raise creatinine levels.

High protein diets are common in people looking to build muscle. If you eat a high protein diet and there is concern about high creatinine levels, consider eating non-animal sources of protein, such as beans and legumes.

Drink plenty of water

Dehydration is known to cause elevated creatinine levels. Drinking enough water can help your kidneys flush out waste products, such as creatinine, and effectively lower levels. Talk with your doctor about how much water you should drink each day.

Avoid excessive alcohol intake

Alcohol is a toxin, and too much alcohol intake can have a negative effect on kidney function. Kidneys have to work extra hard to filter out alcohol from the bloodstream. If you drink alcohol and are looking to lower creatinine levels, consider limiting your alcohol intake.

Current recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest no more than two drinks per day for males and no more than one drink per day for females.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some other frequently asked questions people have about creatinine.

Should I be concerned if my creatinine level is low?

Low creatinine levels can be a concern. According to 2016 research, low creatinine may indicate:

  • poor nutritional status, such as a diet low in protein
  • low muscle mass or muscle wasting due to aging
  • severe liver disease
  • hypervolemia, which is a significant fluid overload seen with heart and kidney conditions

What is the difference between creatine and creatinine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is stored in the muscles and converted into energy. When muscle use creatine to produce energy, the waste product is creatinine. Creatinine enters the blood, and the kidneys are responsible for filtering and excreting it through urine.

Can creatinine levels go back to normal?

Creatinine levels can go back to normal by addressing the underlying cause or treating the underlying condition. In some cases, such as chronic kidney disease, creatinine levels may continue to be elevated.

What fruits can help lower creatinine?

Most fruits can be helpful in keeping creatinine within a normal range because of their fiber content. Proper fiber intake has been shown to be helpful in maintaining normal creatinine levels in people with chronic kidney disease.

Summary

Creatinine is a waste product made by the muscles and filtered out of the body through the kidneys. High creatinine levels often mean that the kidneys are not functioning properly. This can be due to a bacterial kidney infection or chronic kidney disease.

Creatine, a substance stored in the muscles, also plays a role in creatinine levels. When the body breaks down creatine, the byproduct is creatinine. Too much creatine can cause elevated levels of creatinine in the body.

You can help keep your creatinine levels within normal range by drinking plenty of water, watching your protein intake, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption. Treatment for elevated creatinine levels will focus on treating the underlying condition.

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Medical Reviewer: Jared Meacham, Ph.D., RD, PMP, CSCS
Last Review Date: 2022 Sep 16
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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