What causes low creatinine levels?

Serum creatinine is a laboratory test that is performed as part of routine blood work and to facilitate diagnosis of kidney disease, not supplement used to gain muscle. Low creatinine levels are a sign of reduced muscle mass, which may be caused by disease, debilitation or ageing.

Facts About Low Creatinine

Creatinine is a breakdown product of creatine phosphate, which is used in the contraction of skeletal muscle. The production of creatine is dependent on muscle mass; therefore, baseline creatine and creatinine levels are higher in larger, more muscular people than in smaller people or those without much muscle.

Low Creatinine Levels and Kidney Health

Creatinine is excreted by the kidneys and its level in the blood is considered an indicator of kidney health. With normal kidney function, the blood creatinine level should be constant from day to day. Very minor increases can occur after a high-protein meal.

Causes of Abnormal Creatinine Levels

Increased blood creatinine is usually because of problems with kidney function. Increased breakdown of or injury to muscle will also raise the creatinine level, as will increases in muscle mass. Decreased blood creatinine is caused by decreased muscle mass.

Diseases Linked to Low Creatinine Levels

Low creatinine can be a sign of certain diseases which cause decreased muscle mass, including myasthenia gravis and muscular dystrophy. These patients will present with weakness, muscle wasting, and other symptoms in addition to the abnormal blood levels.

Debilitation and Low Creatinine Levels

Muscles atrophy when they are not used, and as the muscle mass decreases, creatinine levels will fall. This can happen with a debilitated patient, especially someone who has lost muscle tone from being bedridden or hospitalised.

Age and Low Creatinine

Elderly people may have a lower creatinine level, as the muscle mass tends to decrease with age. Young children also have a normal creatinine level that is lower than that of adults.

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About the Author

Stephanie Draus is a naturopathic doctor and assistant professor of clinical sciences at National University of Health Sciences. She has practiced in Chicago as a health consultant since 2005. She is a graduate of the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon.