Vegetarians appear to get more of a cognitive boost than meat-eaters from creatine supplementation.
The brain takes up only 2% of body weight but may use up 25% of the body’s energy. We each have supercomputers in our heads and they drain a lot of power. That’s where this molecule comes in, creatine. It acts as a quick reserve energy boost when your fuel supply—oxygen and glucose—is running low. Creatine is naturally produced in our liver, kidneys and pancreas, and transported to the brain and your muscles, the two places you need the most rapid energy deployment.
Now if you were to take a hannibal lector bite out of someone, would that extra creatine you eat on top of what you’re already making give your brain a boost? That study might not get past the ethics board, but this one did. The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores.
In this simplified, normalized version of the data, before the creatine supplement was consumed, the memory capacity of the vegetarians and meateaters was similar, so they started out at the same place. However, after 4 days of consuming a creatine supplement, memory was better in vegetarians compared to those who consumed meat, whereas in those who were meateaters, the consumption of the creatine supplement was associated with poorer memory compared to baseline. So, the vegetarians got a brain boost, but the meat-eaters didn’t.
This may be because meat-eaters have downregulated creatine synthesis. Their body doesn’t make a whole lot because they get it in their diet by eating muscle meat. So their body is like why bother, whereas the vegetarians are cranking the stuff out all the time, and so when they take a creatine supplement it may be like they’re getting a double dose, they’re getting what they take, in addition to what they already make.
Still too early to tell what’s really going on, but in the meanwhile, if you eat vegetarian, should you consider taking creatine supplements? Creatine, are the benefits worth the risk? This is in the context of sports supplemention. That was actually asked more generally of the editor in chief of the Harvard Health letter recetnly, to which he replied: For now, to be on the safe side, I’d advise against taking creatine, concerned that creatine supplements might contain toxic impurities. Was he just being paranoid? Nope. Levels of organic contaminants and heavy metals in creatine supplements, They tested 33 different brands on the market and found a whopping 50% of them exceeded the maximum level recommended by the European Food Safety Authority for at least one contaminant.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.
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For some background on creatine, see yesterday's video. I have 51 other videos on brain health, including Constructing a Cognitive Portfolio,Improving Mood Through Diet, and Reversing Cognitive Decline, as well as hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects. Note that the contaminant study is open access, so you can download it by clicking on the link above in the Sources Cited section.
For more context, check out my associated blog post: Probiotics and Diarrhea