Creatine Brain Fuel Supplementation

Creatine Brain Fuel Supplementation
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Vegetarians appear to get more of a cognitive boost than meat-eaters from creatine supplementation.

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The brain only takes up about 2% of body weight, but may use up 25% of the body’s energy. We 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 blood sugar—is running low. Creatine is naturally produced in our liver, kidneys, and pancreas, and transported to the brain and our muscles—the two places we need the most rapid energy deployment.

Now if you were to take a Hannibal Lecter 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 meat-eaters was similar (vegetarians in white; meat-eaters in black). So, they started out about the same place.

However, after four days of consuming a creatine supplement, memory was better in vegetarians, compared to those who consumed meat, whereas in those who were meat-eaters, 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 muscles. Maybe not this kind of calf, but at least maybe this one.

So, their body is like, “Why bother,” whereas the vegetarians are cranking the stuff out all the time. 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 supplementation.

That was actually asked more generally of the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Health Letter recently, 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Dwayne Reed, Yikrazuul, AndreasPraefcke and Sbrools via Wikimedia Commons.

The brain only takes up about 2% of body weight, but may use up 25% of the body’s energy. We 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 blood sugar—is running low. Creatine is naturally produced in our liver, kidneys, and pancreas, and transported to the brain and our muscles—the two places we need the most rapid energy deployment.

Now if you were to take a Hannibal Lecter 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 meat-eaters was similar (vegetarians in white; meat-eaters in black). So, they started out about the same place.

However, after four days of consuming a creatine supplement, memory was better in vegetarians, compared to those who consumed meat, whereas in those who were meat-eaters, 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 muscles. Maybe not this kind of calf, but at least maybe this one.

So, their body is like, “Why bother,” whereas the vegetarians are cranking the stuff out all the time. 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 supplementation.

That was actually asked more generally of the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Health Letter recently, 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Dwayne Reed, Yikrazuul, AndreasPraefcke and Sbrools via Wikimedia Commons.

Doctor's Note

For some background on creatine, see When Meat Can Be a Lifesaver. Also check out my other videos on brain health, including Constructing a Cognitive PortfolioImproving Mood Through Diet; and Reversing Cognitive Decline. Note that the contaminant study is open access, so you can download it by clicking on the link in the Sources Cited section, above.

For more context, check out my associated blog post: Probiotics and Diarrhea.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

59 responses to “Creatine Brain Fuel Supplementation

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      1. You mentioned 50% of the Creatine supplements are contaminated.. Which of the 50% were not contaminated?  Do they spell out any brand names or anything?  I have exams coming up!




        2
        1. The referenced article found 44% of the Italian market creatine monohydrate samples had creatinine (the body’s own creatine metabolic product, so harmless), and 15% with 4.5-8 mg/kg dihydro-1,3,5-triazine (4.5 mg/kg being EFSA’s limit) and > 50 mg/kg dicyandiamide (resulting from inadequate water during manufacturing recrystallization).  So it looks like 15% of the samples were contaminated with fairly low amounts of toxic manufacturing byproducts.

          I’m a bit more concerned about elevated intramuscular IGF-1 from creatine consumption (Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2008 Aug;18(4):389-98).  Probably desirable from a bodybuilder’s standpoint, but problematic given all the smoking guns linking elevated IGF-1 and cancer proliferation.




          2
          1. According to that article, found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407788/

            IGF-1 only increased when creatine was combined with heavy resistance training. This increase of IGF-1 may have been an indirect result of the creatine since it allowed the subjects to exercise harder, producing better results and greater hypertrophy. In such a case, the body uses its IGF-1 appropriately and there is no increase in risk of cancer. The body is wise enough not to produce an excess. Excess IGF-1 is a result of excess protein, “complete protein,” and zinc, all found typically in animal foods. Incidentally, the vegetarians experienced the greatest muscle gains. A clean diet definitely helps.




            2
      2. The video says not to take supplementary creatine because 50% of creatine supplements were contaminated with heavy metals or something, right? If that’s the case, instead of advising against taking creatine supplements entirely, why not simply tell them which supplements were not contaminated so they can use those?




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      1. How much meat is eaten. What sources of meat are eaten. How much creatine is in those source. Why is the study only 4 days long? That is not enough time for the body to regain its equilibrium. Because of this short period of time, of course you will see positive results. The body will have a positive balance of creatine. Meat eaters already have a creatine balance. Where and why does intake of a water soluble supplement such as creatine decrease cognitive function? I say water soluble because if additional creatine is ingested and the body does not use it, it is pissed out in the urine. I can continue on and on about how terrible this study is. I’m not against a vegetarian lifestyle. I actually promote many aspects of it. This particular study though is absolutely ridiculous. Extend the study out to 4 or more weeks minimal so that each test group has the ability to regain their equilibrium and you will likely see no significant difference.




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        1. I’m Vegan and I see problems with this study too. The source of any supplement or drug is important! Dr. Greger recommended Chlorella in one of his videos yet many of these are contaminated with various toxins including heavy metals. The source is key.




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  1. I take a brand of creatine monohydrate marked 100% pure powder. If 100% means what I think it does, there are no contaminants in it at all. Creatine supplementation is said to lower homocysteine as well as giving an energy boost for anerobic activities and now, helping memory. On balance, I can find more reasons to continue taking creatine than to shrink away from it.




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    1. From the bigger picture, it is key to note the initial graph in comparison between the vegetarians and omnivores concerning cognitive memory. They are almost exactly similar in value…….even with the tremendous amount of average meat(muscle) consumed by the average omnivore.

      As a low fat vegan, I am very comfortable with the knowledge that my own body can manufacture creatine……….in multiple locations and capacities, as needed—–without supplementation from actual meat or toxic pills. Too much of a “good thing”, especially from unnatural sources usually or can lead to trouble. Let’s all not forget, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Selenium and several other pill supplements as opposed to the real mccoy, from natural food sources.

      Really believe the bigger picture of cognitive function is more strongly related to atherosclerotic plaque formation in the large(carotid) and numerous small blood vessels leading into and within the brain. Hard to provide the 20 percent needed nutrients to this super computer when the inflow roads are blocked.

      However, we presently do have great medical documentation concerning cleaning out these plaque deposits and continuing to maintain our blood vessels is the research from Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn. 

      The answer is a low fat vegan diet with moderate exercise, plain and simple.
      What is good for the heart, will be good for the brain (memory). My opinion anyway.




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      1. Be careful with a “low fat” diet – fat is an extremely important part of the diet, and it also helps facilitate absorption of nutrients from your fruits and veggies. I think low (or no) animal consumption is the best way to go, but we should get nearly all our fat from whole food plant sources (like nuts, seeds, avocados, etc). I think we got to get rid of the old school terminology here – low carb, low fat, high protein, it’s all so misleading. It focuses on macro-nutrients and doesn’t take into affect the micronutrients, fiber, etc etc. Whole food (mostly) plant based high-nutrient diet? It’s a mouthful :) Dr Fuhrman calls it “nutritarian” which is simple, but not completely descriptive either. 




        1
        1. Actually, all the essential fat we need is found in greens, fruits and grains. We have no dietary need for seeds or nuts, nor is a healthy diet dependent upon these foods. Monounsaturated fats are produced in the liver while we must acquire omega 6 and 3 through food. Men need only 1.1 grams of omega 3, women need 1.6 grams of omega 3. If we eat low fat whole plant foods our dietary fat needs are met.

          Here is Jeff Novick’s chart on omega 3 supply in the diet, you will find that the best nut choices are flax and walnuts, as well as chia which is not listed.
          http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/s720x720/379704_10150908714835462_619810461_21435944_1609211412_n.jpg

          In addition, if one were to eat a lot of peanuts or almonds throughout the day, we would throw our omega 6: omega3 ratio off. We should strive to keep the ratio at 4:1 or under. Peanuts have a ratio of 4400: 1 Almonds have a ratio of 1800: 1Eating these foods on a constant basis will not allow the omega 3 to synthesize efficiently, omega 6 is already significantly more abundant then omega 3.




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  2. If you took creatine supplements regularly, wouldn’t your body stop producing it just like if you were regularly eating meat? And if so, I wonder how long it would take to adjust – maybe you could save the creative supplements for those special days when you need the athletic performance boost.  ???




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    1. The instructions for use on almost all powdered drink creatine supplements call for a loading period where the subject is supposed to take double the daily dose for 5 days before backing off to the normal maintenance dose. So it appears at least according to the supplement dealers that not having a consistent amount present in the body doesn’t allow for the full benefit. Whether this is actually the scientifically correct method of supplementing with this or just a way for the supplement companies to make their purchased product disappear faster I couldn’t tell you. I will say that when I used to take it my brain/mind seemed to go into a little overdrive where I seemed to be extra alert and able to focus a little more than normal.




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  3. The contaminant study doesn’t appear to be open access; at least for me, I have to register and pay $36 to view it.




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  4. I noticed my creatine claims to test each batch using state of the art HPLC. It lists the levels of organic contaminants and heavy metals.  It claims it is the purest on the market.  It’s called Creapure and it’s by Integrated Supplements: http://www.integratedsupplements.com/intsup/intsup0008.creatineind?p_pid_c=
    I’m assuming it’s valid.  It acknowledges that contaminants are often present in creatine products.




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    1. And who does the testing? The manufacturer? lol. I try to look for supplements that have been verified by the USP (independently lab that tests for purity & potency) when I’m buying dietary supplements. Unfortunately I haven’t found BCAAs or creatine that meet that criteria yet.




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    1. (I know this is three years too late, but for anyone else reading…)
      In my opinion, you’re already running at max capacity, at least naturally.
      Although contamination is in 50% of products, if you need a brain boost for a couple of days (and you’re a vegetarian or vegan) take the supplements 4 days before. Then after the test, stop the supplements due to health concerns. Also, if you continued taking the supplements your body would most likely adjust and lower your own supply of creatine.




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  5. Hello, I am a plant-based athlete/body builder, personal trainer and dancer and my brother (who is also a plant based athlete) sent me a supplement over from Austria called “Tribulus Terrestris”. He adds it to his shakes/smoothies and he swears by it. I just wanted to ask for your input on whether this is a good option for females as well?




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    1. Yes, it stimulates the body to produce lutenizing hormone which causes a cascade of other hormones as appropriate for either sex. However, it’s possible that frequent continual usage will result in the body adapting to Tribulus- or any exogenous supplement, resulting in its effect decreasing, perhaps to the null point. For this reason I rotate between one of seven adaptations and one of seven sex stu




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    1. Recently, I read an article that indicates that it’s safe for the kidneys, which was their main point of concern: http://www.jissn.com/content/10/1/26 I would recommend using a brand such as NOW which is tested in their lab with very sophisticated mass spectrometers to assure that it’s 100% pure. You can call them up and talk to customer service to get info on their quality control- that’s what I did. If pea or rice protein is also pure, there shouldn’t be any problem- but why not eat the whole food pea or brown rice instead? It’s cheaper and has more fiber and micronutrients.




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    1. Getting enough protein is not really an issue unless you are not eating enough calories to begin with, which is essentially starving oneself, or you are consuming a strict fruitarian diet. Other then that, not getting enough protein is a non issue.




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  6. I took creatine for awhile and felt great while I was on it. My
    strength also increased noticeably at the gym. Wow! I was riding high
    on that stuff! What could be better? However, since I have a
    blood-pressure monitor and take my blood pressure frequently just out of
    habit and curiosity, I took it while on creatine, and what did I
    find?

    Holy Sepulcher! It had jumped from 110/70 to 150/95.
    At first I thought there must be something wrong with the monitor, but I
    kept getting the same high numbers no matter how often I took it. I
    called Kaiser and talked to the advice nurse, who told me that I should
    stop taking the creatine, because it causes your body to retain water
    and could drive up your blood pressure. I did stop, and after a couple
    of days, my blood pressure returned to normal. By the way, I was only
    taking 2 grams per day. Body builders take 20 grams per day in the
    loading phase, and for maintenance, they take 5 grams per day.




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  7. Results of this study overstated (misrepresented).
    Graphs used in Dr. G’s chart misleading.

    I read actual study:

    1. Placebo arm for veggie & meat eater before & after.
    2. Creatine arm for veggie & meat eater before & after.

    The baseline “before” levels were different between placebo & treatment arms. (the comparison being made was within group before/after)

    The “before’ in Dr. G’s graph actually the “after” in placebo group.
    The “after” in Dr. G’s graph is the “after” in creatine supplemented group.

    Dr. G jiggered study graphs to give appearance vegetarian performance actually improved following creatine supplementation (it did not).

    The only statistically significant difference [ based on study authors analysis] was word recall better in veggie group after creatine supplementation than meat eater group after supplementation.

    No group [ veggie, meat eater placebo or creatine arm] did better in word recall at the end of study than at baseline!
    Trend downward in all cases.

    Veggie group supplemented with creatine just did LESS WORSE.
    This finding in itself note worthy.
    Maybe due to effects (brain drain) of continual bombardment with memory/recall tests in which one is not actively learning and cannot really learn.

    (Standardized K-12 curricula anyone?).

    Perhaps the barrage of tests should be repeated with black coffee, black tea, green tea, M&Ms and placebo control arms.




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  8. And what about your video “Heterocyclic Amines in Eggs, Cheese, and Creatine”? I am taking creatine supplements at the moment…




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  9. Ummm… thanks for nothing? Now I want something that I didn’t previously know existed and that I just found out is likely bad for me! What a mind *uck!




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  10. Creatine Supplementation for Vegetarians (and all older athletes)

    Can a vegetarian diet lead to underperformance in endurance sports? That
    is, even if protein requirements are met (on a vegetarian diet) is
    the athlete still at risk for under performance compared with those
    who eat meat (omnivores)?

    This
    article suggests that may be the case, at least in older athletes,
    and got me started on this search of the medical literature.
    “Consumption
    of a meat-containing diet contributed to greater gains in fat-free
    mass and skeletal muscle mass with RT (resistance training) in older
    men than did an LOV (lacto-ovo vegetarian) diet.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10584048

    There
    are several possibilities for this observation – 1) a subtle deficit
    of basic dietary elements such as carbohydrates and protein or 2) a
    nutritional component found in a meat based diet but lacking in a
    vegetarian diet. This paper raises the possibility that it is a lack
    of creatine that is the performance risk factor for vegetarians. We
    know that vegetarians often need to supplement micronutrients such as
    iron, zinc,
    vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), vitamin D and calcium (either by using
    supplements or altering their dietary intake). But now we add the
    potential of a creatine deficiency (which cannot be met on a meat
    free diet). “Creatine
    supplementation provides ergogenic responses in both vegetarian and
    non-vegetarian athletes, with limited data supporting greater
    ergogenic effects on lean body mass accretion and work performance
    for vegetarians” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16573356

    Creatine is found mostly in meat, fish and other animal products and this does
    impact vegetarians. “… the levels of muscle creatine are known
    to be lower in vegetarians.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21118604

    and

    “A vegetarian diet is correlated with a lower muscle creatine.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15673098

    Not only can creatine levels be low in the muscles of vegetarians, it has
    found to be lower than in omnivores in the brain as well. And it has
    been suggested that a lower level may impair mental as well putting
    vegetarians at small risk. ”…in vegetarians rather than in those
    who consume meat, creatine supplementation resulted in better
    memory.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21118604

    The creatine deficit occurs fairly quickly, in less than a month, when
    switching to a vegetarian diet. “..The
    results demonstrated that consuming a LOV diet for 21 days was an
    effective procedure to decrease muscle creatine concentration (p
    <.01) in individuals who normally consume meat and fish in their
    diet.“
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12432177

    So the question is whether creatine supplementation makes sense for
    vegetarian athletes? Is it possible to take supplements (assuming
    that the creatinine supplement, probably derived from animal sources,
    is acceptable to vegetarians). Interestingly, vegetarians as a group,
    respond more dramatically and in a relatively short period of time
    to such supplementation. Just 5 days of creatine supplementation
    increase tissue levels. “The results indicate that VEG have a
    lower muscle TCr content and an increased capacity to load Cr into
    muscle following CrS. ”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15673098

    The increased responsivness to creatine supplements is confirmed in this
    study. “Vegetarians
    who took Cr had a greater increase in TCr, PCr, lean tissue, and
    total work performance than nonvegetarians who took Cr (P<0.05).
    The change in muscle TCr was significantly correlated with initial
    muscle TCr, and the change in lean tissue mass and exercise
    performance. These findings confirm an ergogenic effect of Cr during
    resistance training and suggest that subjects with initially low
    levels of intramuscular Cr (vegetarians) are more responsive to
    supplementation.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14600563

    So we know that tissue creatine levels are lower in vegetarians, that
    this may be a reason for a decrease in performance, and supplements
    can fairly quickly reverse this deficit. Are supplements safe?

    “Creatine is a relatively safe supplement with few adverse effects reported.
    The most common adverse effect is transient water retention in the
    early stages of supplementation. When combined with other supplements
    or taken at higher than recommended doses for several months, there
    have been cases of liver and renal complications with creatine.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23851411

    What dosages have be used in these studies?

    First, the formulation – “Creatine monohydrate is the most studied; other
    forms such as creatine ethyl ester have not shown added benefits.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23851411

    “0.3g·kg·d for 5 to 7 days, followed by maintenance dosing at 0.03
    g·kg·d….However loading doses are not necessary to increase the
    intramuscular stores of creatine”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23851411

    “0.1
    g/kg of body weight” per day
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22817979

    There are many articles on the benefits of creatine supplementation in
    power lifters and for other anaerobic activities such as sprints.
    This is the only study I could find that addressed aerobic endurance
    performance… and as in many of these studies, the subjects were a
    younger population. Remember that the initial article specifically
    qualified the statement to “older
    men”, who may be more susceptible to the creatine deficit
    of a vegetarian diet. “Cr supplementation did not result in any
    improvement in upper-body maximal strength and in endurance running
    performance.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11828245

    So let's switch the focus for a minute to the older, non vegetarian
    athlete. Interestingly the younger meat eating athlete does not
    appear to be as sensitive to creatine supplementation as the older
    athlete. Perhaps it is the fact that a minor change in performance is
    hard to demonstrate statistically and only becomes evident when
    accentuated by the age factor.

    Article after article supports the idea that creatine supplementation is
    beneficial for the older athlete looking to improve performance:

    1) “Supplementing
    with creatine, a high-energy compound found in red meat and seafood,
    during resistance training has a beneficial effect on aging muscle.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21373890

    2) “creatine supplementation to be a safe, inexpensive and effective
    nutritional intervention, particularly when consumed in conjunction
    with a resistance training regime, for slowing the rate of muscle
    wasting that is associated with
    aging.”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20034396

    3) “These data indicate that creatine supplementation without associated
    training in the elderly could potentially delay atrophy of muscle
    mass, improve endurance and strength, and increase bone strength, and
    thus may be a safe therapeutic strategy to help decrease loss in
    functional performance of everyday tasks. Generally, however,
    creatine supplementation, without associated resistance training,
    seems to enhance muscular strength, power and endurance, increase
    lean body mass (LBM) and improve the functional capacity of the
    elderly.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24304199

    4) “Creatine is an inexpensive and safe dietary supplement that has both
    peripheral and central effects. The benefits afforded to older adults
    through creatine ingestion are substantial, can improve quality of
    life, and ultimately may reduce the disease burden associated with
    sarcopenia and cognitive dysfunction.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21394604

    And as a bonus, it may help the aging brain as well. ”…subjects
    consumed either a placebo or 20 g of creatine supplement for 5 days.
    Creatine supplementation did not influence measures of verbal fluency
    and vigilance. However, in vegetarians rather than in those who
    consume meat, creatine supplementation resulted in better memory.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21118604

    Again this beneficial effect may be age accentuated as “…creatine
    supplementation does not improve cognitive function in young adults.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18579168

    I think we have plenty of evidence that creatine is part of the
    problem. Are there any other factors (in addition to a relative
    creatine deficiency) that might the contribute to a performance
    deficit in the older meat eating athlete? Daily
    protein requirements (RDA), whether from plant or meats, do increase
    as we age and may compound the problem of athletic performance for this group.
    “These results suggest that the RDA for protein may not be adequate to
    completely meet the metabolic and physiological needs of virtually
    all older people. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11382798

    And

    “…the
    recommended dietary allowance of 0.8 g protein x kg(-1) x d(-1) might
    not be sufficient.”
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18187436

    So what are my conclusions after this investigation?

    1) If you are in that older age group (65 – 70) creatine
    supplementation makes sense – for cognitive as well as muscle
    strength. I plan to give it a try for a month although I'm not sure
    how I will eliminate a placebo effect as I try to decide if it is
    helpful. Based on the data, even if I am doubtful I will probably
    continue it if I don't experience any negatives.

    2) If you are a vegetarian, or an “almost vegetarian”, the age limit
    where a benefit can be demonstrated decreases. What age? There is no
    data. But as it is a safe supplement I'd give it to any performance
    athlete who is a vegetarian.

    3) Will this help endurance performance (as opposed to resistance or
    anaerobic activities) in vegetarians or the older athlete? It may not
    increase your time to exhaustion in aerobic activities, but if it
    leads to an increase in muscle mass, strength and the watts of power
    you can generate should increase as well, which can't help but
    improve your performance up to that point of exhaustion.

    RJR

    Cycling Performance Tips: http://www.cptips.com
    CPTIPS "blog" on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cycling-Performance-Tips/108078485907369




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  11. Most creatine supplements are made in China. What is about the German Creatine (Creapure®)? It is brand quality (99.99%). I would appreciate it very much, if you could say something about it. ;-)




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  12. This should probably get updated, production quality has gone up over the years. And, it can be beneficial to supplement if it’s tested pure right? This website rates purity, safety, label accuracy, etc. Seems like the brand I buy is pretty safe and appears I’m only getting positive results from it.
    https://labdoor.com/rankings/creatine




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  13. That’s probably why people cycle creatine. So, based on the study, if vegans take a creatine supplement they get more of the benefits in the short term due to how the body regulates creatine. Which means that you’d only want to take it sparingly to preserve its potency. Which means that you’d want to take it for studying or before a test. We can postulate that the exercise benefits from creatine are increased because of this mechanism which means that you’d want to only take it on maybe 1 day of the week maximum. The logical approach would be to take it on the day where you are training the biggest muscles to stimulate the most muscle growth possible which would probably be your legs. That might not be worth the risk until we find out that creatine supplements are safe though. Is there any update on creatine? Is it a better purity? I might consider taking it if it it’s safe.




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    1. Hi Kevin,
      I’ve taken creatine on and off for over 20 years, since it first became widely available as a supplement (currently I use Creapure from Germany due to concerns about contamination from other sources such as China, etc). Since creatine generally needs a “loading” phase over a period of at least several days to show benefits, taking it once a week or right before an exam probably wouldn’t work. For instance, in the study above they loaded the subjects with creatine (20 grams/day over a 4 day period) before testing memory function. In theory, it would seem to make sense to cycle creatine, but I’ve never seen a research study showing any harm from continuous supplementation (1 year or more) or any need to cycle it (and I’ve done my best to stay current with creatine supplementation research over the past 20 years). This review
      from 2016 (full text available through sci-hub.io if you are so inclined) has glowing things to say about creatine’s safety record and potential benefits, and this is really the giste of what I’ve read over the years — issues like cramping, kidney damage, toxic metabolites have all been debunked and it really does improve anaerobic performance and increase muscle size.




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      1. Thanks for your reply, I appreciate it! Would that mean I could take it in the weeks or months leading up to a test and reap the benefits? I don’t like taking supplements if I don’t need to, but I’m willing to make an exception if it’s for my education.




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        1. If you’re going to try it for cognitive benefits for a specific test, I’d do a 4 day loading phase (4 heaping teaspoons daily of CM, spread evenly throughout the day WITH high-glycemic carbs AND some sodium to enhance absorption, or just get a pre-made loading drink which contains both). How much this might benefit performance compared to, say a strong cup of coffee, or if the 2 are additive (or even subtractive?) is anyone’s guess. Just for the record, I’d expect that a good night’s sleep, regular exercise and a whole food plant based diet would have far more powerful an effect than any supplement! :)




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    1. Kamojett,
      This article was writer by someone who only knows very basic supplement info. So D3 suppliments are much better than d2 that is correct but lichen a moss that grows on trees actually makes D3 and I also believe some mushrooms do as well. There are a few company’s that now have vegan D3 suppliments such as My Kind by Garden of Life. Creatine as the article says is not essential and your body makes it. For sports performance it is the number one suppliment for size and strength. So if you wanted to take creatine suppliments they would also be vegan (little secret he doesn’t share meat eaters need to suppliment with it as well to get performance benefits). Carnosine is not important and from all the research Dr. Gregor shows, a plant based diet has way more evidence for life extension. Lastly DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid. Normally found in fish oil as both EPA and DHA but can be also supplemented with by using vegan DHA suppliment from alge. A lot of brands use the trademark life’s DHA brand. I work at a Vitamin Shoppe and sell all of these products. Always check on brands and see if they get third party testing done. The Vitamin Shoppe does and also was ranked number 1 in both Vitamin store and Vitamin store brand by consumer labs. That’s why I enjoy working there.




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  14. I’ve been vegan for about 3 months and my blood test results show low creatine level. Shoul I supplement with creatine short term?




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    1. Hi Paul,
      I am one of the volunteer dietitians at this site. Creatine is found in meat or fish and science says that there are no vegetarian sources. Therefore, vegetarians have to get enough of the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine which are used in production of creatine.
      Foods rich in arginine are peanuts, walnuts, coconuts, soybeans, chickpeas, and oats.

      Foods rich in glycine are raw seaweed or spirulina, raw watercress, spinach, soy protein isolate, and sesame seeds. Brazil nuts, oats, and sunflower seeds are great sources of methionine. It is important to note that vegetarians who get enough of these amino acids through diet still have less stored creatine than non-vegetarians. I refer you to this below website written by a Registered Dietitian for more information.

      Vegetarians & Low Creatinine Levels
      I hope these informations of any use to you.




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  15. Paul,

    Just a quick two cents…..Overall I would monitor your levels and experiment with some additional protein sources, per Springs’s suggestions and by increase your nuts/seed/legumes and other products.

    As a note don’t think in terms of a single test result. I would not encourage you to focus on isolated amino acids. I’d also take some additional times to evaluate how you feel and discuss with your physician the rest of how your blood chemistry has improved or otherwise changed.

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger




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  16. I read some sites and sources claiming the body can only produce up to 1 gram a day. And the body needs 2 grams a day. The following source claims this:
    ´´Creatine is produced endogenously at an amount of about 1 g/d. Synthesis predominately occurs in the liver, kidneys, and to a lesser extent in the pancreas. The remainder of the creatine available to the body is obtained through the diet at about 1 g/d for an omnivorous diet. 95% of the bodies creatine stores are found in the skeletal muscle and the remaining 5% is distributed in the brain, liver, kidney, and testes [1]. As creatine is predominately present in the diet from meats, vegetarians have lower resting creatine concentrations [2]´´ -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407788/

    As creatine is found only in meat, this would mean vegetarians and vegans have to supplement with at least 1 gram a day. More for athletes who want to gain some benefits of it.

    Tip; I´m a vegan who supplemented creatine earlier, and it actually DID make my hair thinner, as it is probably claimed to do be raising dihydrotestosterone levels. It only went back immediately after I supplemented with Saw Palmetto, which is known to lower dihydrotestosterone levels. I began supplementing months after I stopped creatine, without me seeing my hair become thicker again. I take about 450-900mg of it daily. It might also be me raising my vegetable intake, especially lycopene from tomatoes. My protein and fat intake during this time was already really high, so a deficiency in this would have been impossible. I did take huge amount of creatine though; 10g at maintenance for two months. I don´t remember my loading phase, I think it was somewhere between 10-20g for 5 days or a week. My suggestion is to take creatine 1-5g a day at maintenance, supplied with Saw Palmetto to prevent raising your DHT levels.




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    1. And another a tip on creatine on some research I did: Creatine causes several effects in vegans and vegetarians and not in omnivores as their creatine synthesis isn´t downregulated by animal creatine intake. Some sources recommend cycling creatine.

      By same biological processes, I found two sources concluding a 2-6 week supplementation, followed by a 2-week ´rest´ is the best cycle plan for long-term creatine supplementation:
      https://books.google.nl/books?id=ojXjBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA52&lpg=PA52&dq=creatine+synthesis+downregulate+4-6+weeks+2+weeks&source=bl&ots=eSYWhZSLI1&sig=VZqIf-r6sRBDn54C16R4fBEisGc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjD8Jvlir_XAhUB2xoKHWYtCa8Q6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=creatine%20synthesis%20downregulate%204-6%20weeks%202%20weeks&f=false page 54, upper left corner.
      http://sjss-sportsacademy.edu.rs/archive/details/full/muscle-metabolism-and-fatigue-during-sprint-exercise-effects-of-creatine-supplementation-11.html

      Now I wonder if other amino acids will also need cycling because of eventual downregulation by our own bodies. I suggest only cycling creatine if you are taking doses higher than 1g a day for if you would like to gain any athletic benefit of it.

      And to those claiming supplementing creatine isn´t ´natural´: I do know a lot of vegans critize supplements for not being ´natural´, even though the b12, omega´s, iodine and vitamin D they take in aren´t either. They are all synthesized by micro-organisms in labs or special human-made designated environments and areas, just like some other supplements like amino acids (creatine, carnitine, inositol etc.).
      I would also like to make clear the fruits you consume like banana´s and watermelons aren´t ´natural´ either. They are heavily bred throughout the ages. And your varied diet isn´t natural either. Sweet potatoes, rice, maize, dates, ginger, turmeric, cloves, quinoa, wheat, nuts, peanuts, watermelons, bananas, berries, brocolli, brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, pine nuts all come from entirely parts on Earth. There is no way our ancestors had all these varied plants at their disposal. In fact, I think this whole ´what is natural and what isn´t´, is even detrimental to our health. It also seems to be an ´appeal to nature´ fallacy. Personally, I think there should be no shame in supplementing what is needed for our body. Especially since ALL whole-food plant-based eaters should already be supplementing with some substances.




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      1. Yet something else I would like to mention; I came across a very interesting site about glycine supplementation and how amino acid deprivation (except for glycine) uses up methionine stores, which is good from a longevity standpoint: http://www.longecity.org/forum/topic/78902-glycine-should-we-be-taking-it.
        (Users are our own Darryl who roams Nutritionfacts.org as well and Phoenicis).

        This is following on my source about how humans can only synthesize up to 1 gram of Creatine a day, when we need at least 2 grams. So should vegans still be taking at least 1 gram a day, or is it better to just supplement glycine instead? Or both 1 gram of creatine and 5-8,5g of glycine a day (as Darryl concluded)?

        Or as Phoenicis concluded: ´´Creatine on the other hand may now need to be reconsidered. Tang, X et al. (2015) seem to show that if creatine biosynthesis is not active, then MR cannot work. So should we be cutting out creatine supplementation and instead be using glycine? Further studies are warranted.´´




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