19th August 06:00
OT--Creatine may improve wkg. memory, intelligence (diet)
Creatine May Improve Working Memory and Intelligence
By Laurie Barclay, MD
Aug. 15, 2003 — Supplementation with 5 g creatine daily improved
working memory and intelligence, both tasks which require speed of
processing, according to the results of a double-blind,
placebo-controlled trial published in the Oct. 22 issue of the
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences.
"The level of creatine supplementation chosen was 5 g per day as this
is a level that has previously been shown to increase brain creatine
levels. This level is comparable to that taken to boost sports
fitness," lead author Caroline Rae, from the University of Sydney in
Australia, says in a news release. "Vegetarians or vegans were chosen
for the study as carnivores and omnivores obtain a variable level of
creatine depending on the amount and type of meat they eat — although
to reach the level of supplementation in this experiment would involve
eating around 2 kg of meat a day!"
Previous studies, as well as anecdotal reports, suggest that creatine
supplementation can increase sports performance and could potentially
be useful in treating neurological, neuromuscular and atherosclerotic
disease. Brain creatine levels have been shown to correlate with
improved recognition memory and with reduced mental fatigue.
"We know that creatine plays a pivotal role in maintaining energy
levels in the brain," says Dr. Rae. "So it was a reasonable hypothesis
that supplementing a diet with creatine could assist brain function."
In a cross-over design trial, 45 young adult vegetarians were
randomized to receive creatine supplementation, 5 g daily, or placebo
for six weeks, followed by a six week washout period and then six
weeks of the alternate treatment.
Creatine supplementation had a positive effect (P < .0001) compared
with placebo on both working memory, as measured with the backward
digit span test, and on intelligence, as measured with Ravens Advanced
"The results were clear with both our experimental groups and in both
test scenarios: creatine supplementation gave a significant measurable
boost to brain power," Dr. Rae says. "These findings underline a
dynamic and significant role of brain energy capacity in influencing
brain performance. Increasing the energy available for computation
increases the power of the brain and this is reflected directly in
improved general ability."
Long-term supplementation with creatine may have potential adverse
effects on glucose homeostasis, as well as on body odor. "To be frank
taking the supplement can make you a considerably less 'fragrant'
person," says Dr. Rae. "However, creatine supplementation may be of
use to those requiring boosted mental performance in the short term —
for example, university students."
The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council supported
SOURCE: Proc Royal Soc. 2003
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD
Laurie Barclay, MD Writer for Medscape Medical News