Creatine Improves Cognition in Vegetarians

Breaking news…from 2003!

I recently became aware of the following and updated the VeganHealth.org page on creatine with it:

A 2003 study of 27 lacto-ovo vegetarian and 18 vegan college students found that supplementing with 5 g of creatine per day for six weeks increased their mental capacity (1). You can get a free copy of this study at the link below under References.

There was no omnivore group so it is not clear if the supplementation would have also worked for omnivores. But in other studies on omnivores:

– Six weeks of creatine supplementation of .03 g/kg body weight per day did not improve cognitive function in a group of young adult omnivores, but the amount of creatine was only about 1 to 1.5 g/day (2).

– In elderly omnivores, four doses of 5 g of creatine per day for one or two weeks increased their cognitive function in some but not all measurements (3).

References

1. Rae C, Digney AL, McEwan SR, Bates TC. Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Oct 22;270(1529):2147-50.

2. Rawson ES, Lieberman HR, Walsh TM, Zuber SM, Harhart JM, Matthews TC. Creatine supplementation does not improve cognitive function in young adults. Physiol Behav. 2008 Sep 3;95(1-2):130-4. Epub 2008 May 15.

3. McMorris T, Mielcarz G, Harris RC, Swain JP, Howard A.Creatine supplementation and cognitive performance in elderly individuals. Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn. 2007 Sep;14(5):517-28. (Abstract)

11 Responses to “Creatine Improves Cognition in Vegetarians”

  1. Anna Drummond Says:

    Is a particular creatine better than another? Like a particular brand? Thanks!

  2. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Anna,

    Not to my knowledge.

  3. Joel Says:

    I can vouch. You have to stay with it consistently for about a week before you start noticing a certain clarity (most retaining more details in my short term memory and much easier recall in the same.) It’s a clarity I didn’t have when I was an omni so I’m willing to bet that if they had supplemented they would have found something there as well. Full disclosure, I’m also taking a lot more (like 10-15g/day on average) than the study group. I’m thinking now I might be wasting creatine.

  4. Gretchen Says:

    Any notes on whether any of these folks had ADHD? Or ADHD folks out there who’ve tried this and found it helpful?

  5. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Gretchen,

    The paper didn’t mention any of them having ADHD.

  6. Gordon Kelley Says:

    As a vegan, I’m constantly reading vitamin bottles in an attempt to discern whether the supplement is animal sourced. I looked at several creatinine bottles the other day at the grocery store, none indicated the source.

    Do you know if, in general, it is safe to assume that creatinine is vegan? I know, I need to start ordering my vitamins from an all-vegan online source, but in the meantime…..

  7. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Gordon,

    To my knowledge, all creatine sold as a supplement is vegan.

  8. Dima Says:

    Jack, can we say that vegetarians become less cognitive over time with depletion of brain creatine?

  9. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Dima,

    That seems like a jump. There is no evidence from the studies cited above that any sort of decline happens over time.

  10. William Says:

    I tried creatine in as little as 2 grams per day, and I felt great while taking it. What I discovered, quite by accident, is that it elevated my blood pressure into the danger range. My BP went from110/70 to 150/95. It did so for the same reason that salt elevates blood pressure — by causing the body to retain water.

    It doesn’t do this for everybody, of course, but an older person whose kidneys aren’t as efficient as a younger person’s, it has that potential, so people should monitor their blood pressure while on it.

    I wouldn’t think of taking a loading phase of 20 grams. That much, which is 10 times the amount that I had taken, could well have given me a stroke or a heart attack.

  11. Calvin Hague Says:

    Creatine is produced in the human body from the essential amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. These essential amino acids are found in all whole plant foods. Vegan food in particular is known for being low in methionine, so my hypothesis is that creatine levels would be lower as a result of the naturally low levels of methionine in vegan protein. If a vegan wants to get as much creatine as meat eaters, they’d need to simply increase their protein intake so that the intake of methionine increases. This should increase creatine production in the body, but this can have unwanted side-effects due to the controversy about methionine and cancer, which is covered in the two videos below by Dr Michael Gregor:

    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/methionine-restriction-as-a-life-extension-strategy/
    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/starving-cancer-with-methionine-restriction/

    this may affect how much creatine is synthesized endogenously. However, if vegans increased their methionine intake, this may have

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