Creatine and Cognition Function

Creatine and Cognition Function

Athletes frequently use creatine to boost athletic performance by enhancing the energy supply to their muscle tissues. But, did you know that creatine also impacts the brain? 

Creatine is a crucial component of the brain and it is believed to benefit cognition by enhancing neuroprotection and energy supply.

In this article, we will discuss the impact of creatine administration on cognitive function.

Creatine’s link to cognitive function

The presence of creatine kinase isoforms in numerous brain regions, such as the cerebellum, pontine reticular formation, hippocampus, red nucleus, choroid plexus, and cerebral cortex, suggests the significance of creatine in brain function (1). The best-known function of creatine is its quick energy delivery through the addition of creatine phosphate (PCr) to adenosine diphosphate (ADP), which leads to the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In this way, creatine helps to maintain the cellular energy level. However, because muscles contain the majority of the body's creatine, the brain—a metabolically active organ—accounts for about 20% of total energy consumption. Therefore, creatine is important for energy in your brain tissue.

Disorders like learning delays, seizures and autism have all been reported as symptoms of creatine deficiency syndromes, which entail creatine depletion at the brain level. These syndromes may be partially reversed using creatine supplementation (2, 3). On the other hand, it has been suggested that creatine can lower levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which may have significant detrimental effects on cell structure. As a result, it is credited with having antioxidant effects or results that, to a certain extent, can be very beneficial for individuals with neurodegenerative diseases.

Furthermore, mental training has been found to increase brain creatine levels, implying an increase in resting energy storage (2). Higher levels of resting creatine have been shown to improve cognitive performance in tasks including recognition memory. These findings point to a possible link between cognition and creatine.

Because cognitive function (CF), neurodegenerative diseases, contusions, brain injuries, and some conditions in which the oxygen supply is affected (i.e., hypoxia) present a reduction in PCr concentrations and changes in the demand for ATP, the utilization of creatine supplementation (SCr) protocols may be advantageous in these conditions. There has been evidence of a decrease in headaches, vertigo, and fatigue in patients with brain injuries (2, 4).

Numerous mental abilities, such as learning, reasoning, thinking, remembering, making decisions, solving problems, and paying attention, are referred to as cognitive function (CF). As we age and develop neurodegenerative diseases, cognitive function declines (4). In this instance, CF can benefit from SCr protocols due to the benefits of creatine in partially treating neurodegenerative diseases.

What does research say about creatine supplementation and cognition?

Creatine supplementation appears to improve short-term memory and reasoning/intelligence. Multiple electronic databases were searched for randomized clinical trials (RCTs) investigating the cognitive effects of creatine supplementation in healthy subjects. In general, there is scientific proof that creatine supplementation may enhance short-term memory and reasoning/intelligence (5). The impact on long-term memory, executive function, spatial memory, and attention is unclear. The findings point to a potential benefit for the elderly and stressed individuals. 

Another study that looked at the effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive performance in the elderly found that it could be beneficial. To establish a baseline level, subjects were divided into two groups and tested on forward and backward number recall, random number generation, long-term memory, and spatial recall tasks. The first received 5 g of placebo 4 times a day for one week. They followed this with the same dose of creatine for the following week. Group 2 received a placebo for the two weeks. At the end of each week, subjects were retested. Creatine supplementation had a significant effect on all tasks apart from backward number recall (6). The conclusion from the study was that creatine supplementation improved cognition in the elderly. While the subjects were elderly individuals, it is safe to say that creatine may improve cognitive function among individuals of different ages.

Why is there a difference in improvement between some cognitive tasks and others?

Creatine levels may rise to a certain level as the task becomes much more difficult. When the level of difficulty exceeds this limit, creatine supplementation will no longer be beneficial. Creatine dosing is another factor that may explain the varying responses in each task (daily dose x treatment duration). Oral creatine consumption has been shown to increase brain creatine concentration (7). However, tissue accumulation is not solely determined by daily dosing and the duration of supplementation.

The basal level of creatine is a major determinant of creatine buildup in the brain following supplementation. The ability of creatine supplementation to increase brain creatine levels is inversely associated with baseline brain levels. Similar to creatine uptake in skeletal muscle, creatine uptake in the brain may be influenced by insulin levels or the latest meal. Furthermore, because this nutrient is mostly present in meat and fish, general dietary habits may influence the response to exogenous creatine.

In summary, the findings demonstrate that creatine concentration and performance in different cognitive tasks are influenced by factors such as insulin levels, basal creatine levels, previous meals, and general dietary habits, in addition to dosing.


Creatine supplementation has been shown to be safe and is commonly used by athletes to improve performance, particularly strength athletes and bodybuilders.

The evidence on the potential advantages of creatine for anaerobic performance, such as weightlifting, football, and sprinting, is clear.

Furthermore, creatine is an essential substance for the brain that may help various brain regions with neuroprotection and energy supply. Research suggests that taking creatine orally may improve performance on intelligence and memory tasks.

Creatine + Hydrate, by Cerus Performance, contains 5 grams of creatine monohydrate as well as electrolytes in the form of sodium, potassium, magenesium and coconut water powder. 



Reading next

Need Better Focus?
The Power of Persistence

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.