Does Creatine Improve Cognition?

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Does creatine improve cognition?

Check out this answer from Consensus:

The evidence suggests that creatine supplementation can enhance certain aspects of cognitive function, particularly in vegetarians, females, and older adults. It also shows promise in combatting mental fatigue and maintaining cognitive performance under conditions of oxygen deprivation and sleep deprivation. However, the effects on other cognitive domains remain inconsistent, and further research is needed to establish optimal supplementation protocols and understand the underlying mechanisms.

Creatine, a compound commonly associated with muscle energy metabolism, has garnered attention for its potential cognitive benefits. This article explores the effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function, drawing on findings from various research studies.

Effects on Cognitive Function in Different Dietary Groups

Research has shown that creatine supplementation may have varying effects on cognitive function depending on dietary habits. A study examining vegetarians and meat-eaters found that vegetarians who supplemented with creatine scored significantly higher on visual memory tests compared to those who consumed more than 10 servings of meat per week. This suggests that creatine may enhance cognition in vegetarians but not in regular meat consumers.

Gender Differences in Cognitive Response

Another study investigated the cognitive effects of creatine in healthy male and female subjects. While no significant changes were observed in overall cognitive measures between the creatine and placebo groups, females in the creatine group scored higher on visual memory tests compared to males. This indicates a potential gender difference in cognitive response to creatine supplementation.

Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses provide a broader perspective on the cognitive effects of creatine. One review highlighted that creatine supplementation might improve short-term memory and intelligence/reasoning in healthy individuals. However, the effects on other cognitive domains such as long-term memory, spatial memory, and executive function were inconsistent. The review also noted that vegetarians responded better to creatine in memory tasks compared to meat-eaters.

A meta-analysis further supported these findings, showing that creatine supplementation improved memory performance, particularly in older adults. The analysis emphasized the need for more research to determine the optimal creatine protocol for enhancing brain creatine levels and cognitive function.

Combatting Mental Fatigue

Creatine’s role in combatting mental fatigue has also been explored. One study found that creatine supplementation improved physical strength endurance and cognitive performance during tasks that induced mental fatigue. However, it did not significantly counteract the mental fatigue-induced impairments in short sport-specific psychomotor or cognitive performance.

Neuroprotective Effects During Oxygen Deprivation

Creatine’s neuroprotective properties have been demonstrated in conditions of oxygen deprivation. A study showed that creatine supplementation increased corticomotor excitability and prevented declines in attention during acute oxygen deprivation. This suggests that creatine may help maintain cognitive function when cellular energy provision is compromised.

Effects on Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation negatively impacts cognitive and psychomotor performance. Research indicates that creatine supplementation can mitigate these effects, improving mood state and performance in tasks that heavily stress the prefrontal cortex after 24 hours of sleep deprivation.



Does creatine improve cognition?

Philip Dean has answered Uncertain

An expert from University of Surrey in Neuroimaging, Stroke, Neuroscience

There are mixed results from animal and human research in this area, with mixed supplements given (some containing other substances than creatine e.g. in sports supplements with sugars/proteins added), at mixed doses (much higher in animals) over mixed periods (high dose/short time; low dose/long time) in different populations (e.g. vegan/vegetarian) with mixed output variables (cognitive tasks, neuroimaging). Whether oral creatine supplementation increases creatine in the brain is still not certain. Whilst some studies seem to infer that oral creatine supplementation can increase creatine in the brain, these are not usually done at the same time as cognitive tests or other neuroimaging. It becomes trickier still when looking at Phosphocreatine vs Creatine in the brain, and when accounting for the osmotic properties of creatine (water retention) which can effect data collected. Any relationship between cognition and creatine might be caused by increases in the body, other substances in the supplement or placebo effects. Properly powered and controlled studies are needed to understand potential mechanisms.


Does creatine improve cognition?

Xuansong Mao has answered Likely

An expert from Virginia Tech in Sports Science, Exercise Physiology

Based on the clinical research and animal studies, creatine (Cr) supplementation has been demonstrated to improve cognitive function in numerous domains (e.g., short-term memory, spatial memory). Although Cr supplementation seems to be a promising approach for improving some cognitive domains, it is very unknown as to how Cr boost cognitive processing in the brain. We all know that Cr is an energy buffer to react with excessive ATP for energy storage and contributes to form ATP formation when energy demand increases, this area of research still remains to be confirmed. Other possibilities could be that Cr supplementation improves cognitive function through activating certain molecular pathways, resulting in increased synaptogenesis in the brain. For a more thorough understanding of Cr and cognitive function, there are more needed to be done.


Does creatine improve cognition?

Beny Lafer has answered Uncertain

An expert from University of Sao Paulo in Psychiatry

A few small studies suggest a potential benefit of Creatine on cognition but this needs to be further tested in large and controlled studies


Does creatine improve cognition?

Bruno Gualano has answered Uncertain

An expert from University of Sao Paulo in Exercise Physiology

It is not clear yet the ideal doses to increase brain creatine, nor is it known the most benefited population from increased brain creatine in terms of cognition improvement (eg, depressed individuals vs healthy ones; vegan vs. omnivores; ‘resting’ vs. sleep deprived individuals).


Does creatine improve cognition?

Caroline Rae has answered Likely

An expert from Neuroscience Research Australia in Neurobiology, Neuropsychology, Neuroimaging, Biochemistry

I can say that appropriate supplementation with creatine has been shown to improve some cognitive tasks, such as those involving short term memory and fast processing. We showed this in vegetarians in 2003 but this result has now been reproduced by others in omnivores. It has also been suggested that older people may benefit more.


Does creatine improve cognition?

Justin Roberts has answered Likely

An expert from Anglia Ruskin University in Exercise Physiology, Sports Science

Around 5% of the body’s creatine is stored in other tissues including our brain. Taking creatine has been shown to significantly improve cognitive function and decision-making, particularly in vegetarians. Around 8 grams of creatine taken daily for five days has been shown to reduce mental fatigue associated with task repetition, and higher doses (20 grams) may improve brain-muscle-related fatigue.

This answer was adapted from an original article that was originally published on

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