How Creatine May Impact Brain Function & Cognitive Performance
Creatine, which is found naturally in animal sources of protein, is an increasingly popular dietary supplement for athletes and those looking to improve their physical performance. But in addition to beefing up your muscles, creatine might also benefit your brain and cognitive performance.
Creatine can help the brain power up in a few different ways. It affects ATP production—the main source of energy for cells—in both muscles and the brain. It’s also a precursor molecule for molecules like phosphocreatine, which provides additional energy stores needed to fuel cellular processes. All of this may provide extra energy to help your brain function more efficiently.
Effects on Cognitive Performance
In addition to potential effects on ATP production, creatine is believed to have neuroprotective and neuromodulatory effects that can protect brain health and lead to improved cognitive performance. Research in humans, animals, and cell cultures has shown that creatine may help with short-term memory, mental agility, and verbal fluency.
In one study, young healthy adults were given either 20 grams of creatine or a placebo for five days. Compared to the placebo group, the group that received creatine displayed improved performance on a word recall test.
In another study, creatine and aerobic exercise were both found to benefit elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment. Those who received creatine supplementation and engaged in regular exercise saw improvements in cognitive functioning, and the effects were even greater than those of exercise alone.
Potential Benefits to Brain Health
Several studies have also suggested that creatine may have benefits for brain health, particularly in conditions associated with oxidative stress. In one study, supplementation with creatine was found to improve symptoms of depression in both men and women.
In addition, cell cultures and animal studies have suggested that creatine may also have neuroprotective benefits by providing a steady supply of energy and reducing inflammation. This might help protect your brain against neurodegenerative diseases, though more research is needed to confirm these effects in humans.
Creatine might also be beneficial for athletes and people with ADHD, though further study is needed.
Final Thoughts on Creatine & Brain Function
Creatine has been scientifically proven to improve physical performance, and evidence suggests it might also improve cognitive functioning and provide neuroprotective benefits.
If you’re looking for a natural way to give your brain an extra boost, creatine supplementation might be worth trying. However, before adding any supplements to your routine, it’s important to talk to your doctor to make sure it won’t interact with any medications or supplements you’re already taking.