June 24, 2024 5 min read

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    Mental health isn't something typically mentioned in the conversation about creatine. Due to a plethora of beneficial effects of creatine supplementation on body composition, lean muscle mass, and physical performance, it’s tough for its other benefits to get their well-deserved moment in the spotlight. However, these lesser-known benefits aren't marginal.

    Creatine supplementation has been linked to significant improvements in brain function, and extensive research suggests that efforts to increase brain creatine levels can result in improved mental health. 

    Our goal for this creatine guide is to bust myths surrounding this powerful supplement and introduce you to creatine’s undeniable role in cognitive health, so keep reading to discover more.

    What is Creatine? A Brief Introduction

    Creatine, a naturally occurring compound, has an amino acid composition, but it is not to be mistaken for a protein. It can be defined as an amino acid derivative playing a crucial role in cellular metabolism. A small amount of creatine is stored in brain and heart tissue, while most creatine stores are found in the muscle (around 95%).[1] Creatine synthesis involves amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine, and its production occurs in the kidneys and liver.[2]

    While creatine is naturally produced, the body can synthesize only half the required daily amount. Natural creatine synthesis only yields up to 1.5 g of creatine, while the recommended amount is 2-4 g a day. Therefore, creatine supplementation is necessary to obtain an optimal amount and ensure its multiple benefits. Creatine supplementation is recommended for optimal brain function, boosted muscle creatine levels, increased performance, and plump skin.[1]

    Let's address some common questions concerning this versatile supplement.

    Creatine and Hair Loss

    Can creatine cause baldness or hair loss?

    No scientific evidence suggests that creatine would increase testosterone or DHT levels, which would be associated with hair loss. Therefore, hair loss isn't one of the expected side effects of creatine supplementation.[2]

    Does creatine cause water retention?

    Due to increased intracellular volume, supplementing with creatine may result in short-term water retention. However, over longer periods, it does not change intra and extracellular body water levels but can increase muscle mass.[2]

    Can creatine cause renal dysfunction or kidney damage?

    Clinical trials show that as long as you stick to the recommended dose and a quality source of creatine, supplementation does not affect renal function. Generally, creatine supplementation isn't associated with significant adverse effects, even in higher doses.[2]

    Is creatine recommended for young adults?

    Since creatine is a well-researched and safe supplement with an array of scientific evidence supporting its benefits, there are no safety concerns surrounding creatine intake.[2] It is, however, highly recommended to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have any health issues or other conditions.

    The Science Behind Creatine Supplementation and Mental Health

    Creatine and Mental Health

    One of the surprising benefits of creatine that isn't as explored and discussed as its fitness-related roles is the positive impact on the human brain. Creatine supplementation, when properly administered, can elevate brain creatine levels, playing a vital role in brain metabolism and mental health.[3] Let's dig a bit deeper into the effect of creatine on mental well-being.

    Mood Disorders and Creatine

    The effects of creatine supplementation on mental health stem from its ability to increase brain creatine levels and improve overall cognitive function. A 2022 study found that creatine can alleviate the symptoms of mental health issues, such as depression and generalized anxiety disorder.[3]

    The study recognized a strong link between creatine deficiency and disrupted brain bioenergetics, resulting in mental health issues such as depressive moods. Therefore, research suggests that, by raising brain creatine levels, creatine supplementation can have a therapeutic effect in the treatment of different depression types.[3]

    Furthermore, the aforementioned study explored the relationship between generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and low creatine levels. Low creatine levels have been noted in patients diagnosed with GAD and PTSD. Adding a creatine supplement into their regime resulted in improvements in both conditions, especially in patients struggling with sleep deprivation.[3]

    Mental Fatigue and Creatine

    Mental fatigue, also known as mental exhaustion, is often the issue behind a lack of productivity and decreased cognitive performance. If disregarded, mental fatigue can be a trigger for other mental disorders, often developing into depression and anxiety. It is mainly characterized by an overload of challenging cognitive tasks, increased stress, and reduced efficiency in the completion of these tasks. Low creatine levels, however, can also be detected at the very core of this problem.[4]

    Upping creatine intake can lead to significant improvements in mental clarity, reducing the debilitating symptoms of mental fatigue.[3]

    Creatine and Cognitive Functions

    How Creatine Contributes to Cognitive and Memory Enhancement

    The effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive performance are attributed to its ability to increase the availability of energy for brain cells. Creatine has been shown to boost memory, specifically in older individuals dealing with age-related memory loss and metabolic stress - especially sleep deprivation.[5]

    Creatine, a key factor in energy metabolism, is necessary to support brain functions in energetically demanding cognitive tasks. It has been found to promote all cognitive functions, including memory, learning, logical reason, and focus.[5]

    Brain Creatine Levels and Traumatic Brain Injury

    Studies have consistently shown that higher brain creatine levels are associated with improved cognitive performance and a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Even in the event of traumatic brain injuries, such as concussion, creatine supplementation can alleviate the adverse symptoms and promote cerebral energy and blood flow. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that creatine shows great potential in neuroprotective treatments, as well as traumatic brain injury recovery.[5]

    A 2023 study on potential applications of creatine for brain health and functions[5] highlights the role of this supplement in brain injury recovery, as well as communication, self-care, sociability, and behavior following these traumatic events. It has also been shown to reduce fatigue, dizziness, and headaches following a traumatic brain injury. 

    Needless to say, by reducing the life-altering, painful symptoms of these injuries, creatine also protects the mental well-being of patients during the recovery process.[5]

    Conclusion

    Creatine is full of surprises, and its impact on mental health is one of them. Largely responsible for cellular energy levels, creatine plays a significant role in brain metabolism, supporting all important cognitive processes. Numerous studies underline the relationship between low creatine levels and mood disorders, especially depression and anxiety. 

    By optimizing creatine levels with quality creatine supplementation, we’re essentially supporting brain health and boosting mood levels. Check out our premium American-made creatine HCI - a vegan creatine form superior to creatine monohydrate thanks to its high bioavailability.

    Article References:

    1. Kreider, Richard B et al. “Bioavailability, Efficacy, Safety, and Regulatory Status of Creatine and Related Compounds: A Critical Review.” Nutrients vol. 14,5 1035. 28 Feb. 2022, doi:10.3390/nu14051035
    2. Antonio, Jose, et al. “Common Questions and Misconceptions about Creatine Supplementation: What Does the Scientific Evidence Really Show?” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 18, no. 1, 8 Feb. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7871530/.
    3. ---. “Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Brain Function and Health.” Nutrients, vol. 14, no. 5, 22 Feb. 2022, p. 921, www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/14/5/921, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14050921.
    4. Kunasegaran, Kaveena, et al. “Understanding Mental Fatigue and Its Detection: A Comparative Analysis of Assessments and Tools.” PeerJ, vol. 11, 2023, p. e15744, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37637168/, https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.15744.
    5. Candow, Darren G, et al. ““Heads Up” for Creatine Supplementation and Its Potential Applications for Brain Health and Function.” Sports Medicine, vol. 53, 27 June 2023, https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-023-01870-9.



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