Creatine Might Improve Cognitive Functions in Vegetarians

December 7, 2010

Results of a study comparing creatine and cognitive function in vegetarians and meat-eaters.

Published science suggests that creatine can aid athletic and cognitive function in the general population and in various subgroups. But with natural dietary sources coming primarily from meat, creatine remains of particular scientific interest for vegetarians, who can only obtain creatine from dietary supplements or, at much lower levels, from plant sources.

A team of British researchers sought to evaluate the effect of creatine supplementation on cognitive function in women (vegetarian and non-vegetarian). The results are now published in the December issue of the British Journal of Nutrition.

A total of 121 young adult women (70 vegetarians and 51 omnivores) were randomized to receive 20 g of creatine (Isostar Creatine supplement; n=61) or placebo (glucose tablet; n=60) for five days in double-blind fashion. The creatine supplement was provided by Wander Limited (King’s Langley, Herts, UK).

Memory, reaction time, vigilance, and verbal fluency tests were conducted on all subjects and assessed for any differing results based on supplementation.

Creatine supplementation did not appear to directly influence vigilance or verbal fluency. Memory and reaction time did appear to be positively influenced by creatine in at least some vegetarians. After four days of consumption of creatine, vegetarians produced higher memory scores than meat-eaters on creatine. Meat-eaters actually produced lower memory scores after four days of creatine supplementation than at baseline.

“To date, the findings are too preliminary to allow the role of creatine in the brain and the impact of its supplementation on cognition to be established,” wrote the study’s author. “However, the present and previous reports that supplementation influences cognitive functioning, and the evidence that creatine supplementation influences basic brain physiology, suggest that the topic will repay further examination.”

The full study can be read at the British Journal of Nutrition.