Evidence-Based Nutrient Recommendations

Creatine and Cognitive Function in Vegetarians

Compiled by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, FADA

A study published in 2017 from Brazil examined the effect of creatine supplementation on brain creatine.

Researchers gave 14 self-described vegetarian adults (4 vegans, 9 lacto-ovo vegetarians, 1 ovo vegetarian) and 17 omnivorous adults 0.3 g/kg of creatine for 7 days. Prior to receiving the creatine, the subjects had received a placebo for 7 days.

The vegetarians had a much lower dietary intake of creatine than the omnivores—0.01 vs 1.73 g, respectively—but brain and muscle creatine content was no different between these groups prior to supplementation.

Brain creatine was not affected by supplementation in either group although the vegetarians had a significant increase in muscle creatine compared to the omnivores. The authors conclude:

The findings herein presented also cast doubt on the ability of creatine supplementation to effectively increase brain creatine/PCr [phosphorylcreatine] content in healthy individuals, regardless of their … dietary patterns. At least, it is safe to conclude that the supplementation protocol employed in this study, which is able to promote muscle creatine/PCr loading, failed to produce any increase in brain PCr, indicating that higher-dose and/or longer-duration protocols must be developed to optimize brain creatine/PCr accumulation.

These results support other studies that suggest that, in healthy individuals, brain creatine content is relatively stable and not markedly impacted by supplementation at the level used in this study.

More information on creatine.

Solis MY, Artioli GG, Otaduy MCG, Leite CDC, Arruda W, Veiga RR, Gualano B. Effect of age, diet, and tissue type on PCr response to creatine supplementation. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Aug 1;123(2):407-414.

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