Creatine is one of the most widely used sports supplements on the market, even though some individuals are non-responders, you can understand why its me is so widespread. Probably the most noticeable difference is the fact that a daily dose typically leads to more water being drawn into muscles, which makes them physically larger without changing one’s diet or exercise routine. And hordes of research has also shown it can have a pretty remarkable effect on power output and muscular endurance.
At no more the list of advantages, we quite often begin to see the words “cognitive benefits” and “neurological improvements” as well, but many don’t quite understand the precise effect creatine supplementation might have. Could it be really a good way to enhance your brain? Therefore, what does it really do?
The Case for Creatine and Neurodegenerative Disorders
Nearly 95 percent of creatine is stored in the muscle, but some is stored in the liver, testes, kidneys, and brain, where it acts as a neurotransmitter and an ATP storage molecule.
“A lot of brain-related diseases, like Parkinson’s, have impaired brain-energy ?metabolism where decreased creatine transport is implicated. Therefore it stands to reason that creatine supplementation may alleviate symptoms associated with energy dysregulation,” says says Trevor Kashey, PhD, a nutrition scientist and consultant. “But I’m not entirely convinced this is the way it plays in actual life.”
After we’re toddlers, creatine provides extensive difficulty crossing the blood brain barrier, meaning that it’s hard to know if eating creatine will actually lead to meaningful increases in cerebral creatine stores. In addition, many of the tests used to determine cognitive improvements are susceptible to the placebo effect – for the topic and also the study authors.
“Many tests accustomed to determine efficacy ?are indirect measurements dependent on skills: it’s like saying when we give test subjects creatine and crossword puzzle scores improve, creatine is an efficient treatment for neurological disease,” says Kashey. “But it’s difficult to say because placebo is such a confounding factor in neurodegenerative disorders. I am not in love with the proposed mechanisms at this time.”
And the thing is that when you start taking a look at top quality scientific research, the data agrees. Many studies, including randomized controlled trials, have found no significant effect between consuming creatine and improving neurodegenerative conditions, injury to the brain, or even memory.1 2 3 4 5
“If you review the conclusion of a recent meta analysis, where they pooled results from randomized controlled trials, creatine doesn’t really do anything,” says Kashey, talking about a 2017 BMC Neurology article called “The effectiveness of creatine treatment for Parkinson’s disease: an up-to-date meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.”
Creatine is an antioxidant, and if you believe that oxidative stress can contribute to these kinds of diseases then supplementing might have some effect, but perhaps to not the amount that some people suggest.
So There’s Zero Effect On the mind?
Well, there’s not much evidence that it can treat neurodegenerative diseases.
But, there’s this as creatine deficiency, or even more precisely, between those who are and aren’t “saturated” with creatine. And people who are unsaturated might have somewhat impaired cognition in certain respects. Kashey doesn’t check this out as taking creatine resulting in “better” cognition, rather it can provide you with to baseline. (He notes that although a Vitamin C deficiency can cause your teeth to drop out from scurvy, eating lots of Ascorbic acid won’t grow you additional teeth.)
As you might have guessed, what this means is creatine has got the most potential benefit among individuals who never or very rarely eat meat. Which means vegetarians and vegans, even though it can also be useful one of the elderly, who tend to consume much less protein. The data supporting this hypothesis isn’t as convincing as the evidence for its use within sports, but you will find nonetheless several studies which have found vegetarians taking creatine can experience improved memory plus they may respond better within their athletic endeavors than meat eaters.6 7 8
The Non Gym Benefits
Finally, even if creatine might not be as useful at treating cognitively impaired patients as we may have thought, still it has uses in clinical settings. Cardiac and skeletal muscle creatine levels are lower in patients with congestive heart failure, there have been solid, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies which have shown creatine supplementing can bring about a substantial improvement in heart muscle strength and exercise capacity.9
Which is to say that despite a few flawed studies, creatine can still have a wide range of advantages for non-gym rats, even just in old age.
- Writing Group for NET-PD. Effect of Creatine Monohydrate on Clinical Progression in Patients With Parkinson Disease: A Randomized Medical trial. JAMA. 2015;313(6):584-593.
- Malek, A. et al. Results of creatine supplementation on learning, memory retrieval, and apoptosis within an experimental animal model of Alzheimer disease. Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2015; 29: 273.
- Erdman J, et al. (eds) Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel. National Academies Press (US); 2011.
- Kley, et al. Creatine for treating muscle disorders. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jan 24;(1):CD004760.
- Mo, JJ et al. The effectiveness of creatine treatment for Parkinson’s disease: an up-to-date meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Neurol. 2017 Jun 2;17(1):105.
- Rawson ES. Utilization of creatine within the elderly and evidence for effects on cognitive function in young and old. Amino Acids. 2011 May;40(5):1349-62.
- Benton D, et al. The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores. Br J Nutr. 2011 Apr;105(7):1100-5.
- Solis MY, et al. Effect of age, diet, and tissue type on PCr response to creatine supplementation. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Aug 1;123(2):407-414.
- Kuethe F, et al. Creatine supplementation improves muscle strength in patients with congestive heart failure. Pharmazie. 2006 Mar;61(3):218-22.