Causes of low creatinine levels and high creatinine levels

Updated at: Feb 07, 2017
Causes of low creatinine levels and high creatinine levels

Creatinine level in the kidneys is a direct measure of kidneys performance. Learn about the reasons for having low or high creatinine levels.

Meenakshi Chaudhary
Kidney DiseasesWritten by: Meenakshi ChaudharyPublished at: May 02, 2016

Creatinine, a waste product of creatine, is produced by normal muscle metabolism. It has also been reported that consumption of meat may also produce a small amount of this waste product in your body.  However, this waste product gets easily filtered out of the blood through kidneys and remains typically stable in the body and bloodstream over time. It leaves the body through urine. However, chances are high that it may start accumulating in your blood if your kidneys are not functioning properly.


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Doctors often conduct tests on creatinine levels in order to evaluate functioning of kidneys. Normal creatinine bloods levels for men are about 0.6 to 1.2 milligrams/deciliters and for women are 0.5 to 1.1 mg/dL.

Here are some of the reasons why creatinine levels may be low


Low muscle mass

For normal functioning kidneys, creatinine levels in the body directly reflect the amount of muscle in the body.  One of the most common causes of low creatinine level is having low muscle mass.

For instance, creatinine levels tend to decrease with age mainly due to loss of muscle mass, especially in those who don’t exercise. When the intake or absorption of calories from the food gets reduced, our body needs an alternate source to meet the requirement of insufficient calories. This results in breakdown of fat and protein present in the muscle tissue which offers that much need energy with low calorie intake or absorption.

Prolonged starvation or illnesses that reduce absorption of nutrients are responsible for causing significant loss of muscle mass and a low creatinine level.


Eating habits

What you eat has a great impact on your creatinine levels. The risk of low creatinine level is more in people who eat vegetarian diet. Animal protein from meat and fish contributes to the blood creatinine level whereas plant based foods do not, because of which the creatinine levels of vegetarians are lower than non vegetarians.



During pregnancy the kidneys are more efficient at clearing creatinine and other waste products from the blood, thereby, may result in low blood creatinine levels.


Less common causes of low creatinine levels

Apart from aforementioned causes there are some other less common causes of low creatinine levels which include liver disease, excess intake of water and certain medications.


Reasons why creatinine levels may be high

Temporary elevated levels of creatinine may occur, regardless of kidney function, due to certain supplements or medications, dehydration, consuming large amounts of meat or protein, kidney infections, abnormal muscle breakdown and urinary tract obstruction.


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