Meta-analysis: Creatine supplementation improves memory in healthy adults

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© comotion design / Getty Images
© comotion design / Getty Images

Related tags Creatine supplementation Cognitive function Memory Brain health

Creatine supplementation increases creatine content in the brain and improves memory performance in healthy individuals, particularly in older adults, according to a new meta-analysis.

The research, published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Life Sciences Institute, contributes to a growing body of literature on the neurobehavioral and physiological effects of creatine supplementation.

“The brain requires a high amount of energy for cellular processes, such as neurotransmitter exocytosis and synaptic functioning,” ​the authors explained, noting the well-documented role of creatine in brain bioenergetics.

“Creatine, an organic acid obtained from the diet (primarily from red meat and seafood) or synthesized endogenously in the liver, the kidneys, and the brain, is an important molecule for energy production.” 


The team of researchers from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada identified 23 eligible randomized control trails (RCTs) through a thorough search of the Web of Science, Cochrane Library and Scopus databases from inception through September 2021. 

Trials including participants with self-reported comorbidities or any specific dietary restrictions, such as vegetarians, were then excluded to generate a total of 10 studies for systematic review. Eight were conducted in young adults and two in older adults.

Of these, eight qualified for meta-analysis, with a total of 225 participants (74 males and 151 females; 122 in creatine group, 118 in placebo group). 

Key findings

The meta-analysis concluded that creatine supplementation improved measures of memory compared with placebo, with ‘more robust’ ​effects ​in older adults (66-76 years) as compared to their younger counterparts (11-31 years). ​The researchers suggest that brain creatine content may decline during aging and therefore older adults may be more responsive to creatine supplementation. 

“These data support contentions that creatine supplementation has benefits beyond improving physical performance but can be an important nutrient to support health and cognitive function as we age,” ​Richard Kreider, Executive Director of the Human Clinical Research Facility & Director of the Exercise & Sport Nutrition Lab at Texas A&M University, told NutraIngredients-USA.

A creatine dose of 2.2 to 20 g/d, duration of intervention (5 days to 24 weeks), sex or geographical origin did not influence the findings of the meta-analysis.

Further studies

The researchers noted a lack of homogeneity in outcomes of memory performance, limitations in terms of the assessment of baseline levels of serum or brain creatine, and a need for common assessment tools. 

To advance research in the area, they call for an “urgently warranted” ​and “rigorous, large, long- term randomized clinical trial”​ and additional studies in cohorts of healthy older adults and patients with neurological and neurodegenerative diseases with compromised brain creatine levels and memory.

Kreider, who also co-authored a critical review of creatine monohydrate in a special issue on creatine for health and clinical disease in the journal Nutrients,​ advises “studies assessing the effects of creatine monohydrate and its precursor guanidinoacetic acid (GAA) supplementation on brain energy availability and cognitive function and slowing mild cognitive impairment as we age.”​  

Source: Nutrition Reviews 


“Effects of creatine supplementation on memory in healthy individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”

Authors: Konstantinos Prokopidis et al.

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