Creatine Supplementation May Enhance Brain Function

Creatine is a substance produced in the kidneys and liver and is primarily stored in muscle cells, where it is used to produce energy. Oral creatine supplementation has been shown to increase the amount of creatine in muscles. While it is no secret that creatine has been found to enhance endurance and strength not many people know that it may also improve brain function. This article will discuss the effects of creatine supplementation on brain function and go over how it may produce these benefits.

The brain produces creatine

Although creatine is largely synthesized in the kidneys and liver, the brain is capable of making creatine through a two-step chemical reaction1. While the brain is able to store creatine, it appears that oral creatine supplementation does little to increase creatine stores in the brain. Subjects given 5 grams of creatine a day for six weeks only saw an 11% increase in brain creatine levels and subjects given 20 grams a day for seven days saw an 8% increase in creatine levels.

How creatine works in the brain

The brain is a greedy organ. Although accounting for only 2% of our body mass the brain uses about 20% of our resting metabolic rate. Creatine helps the brain meet its energy needs by increasing the production rates of mitochondrial ATP (ATP stores energy and is broken down to release and supply the brain and rest of our body with energy). Creatine also acts as an anti-oxidant in the brain, preventing cellular damage caused by free radicals.

Creatine may enhance brain function

Researchers studied the role of creatine in mental fatigue by giving subjects 8 grams of creatine daily for five days and measuring fatigue caused by repeatedly performing simple mathematical calculations2.  It was found that subjects taking creatine showed less decline in performance compared to the placebo group, possibly caused by increasing energy metabolism in the brain.

A study which gave vegan and vegetarian subjects 5 grams of creatine a day for six weeks found that those in the creatine group performed better on the working memory test (backward digit span) and an intelligence test- both of which measured speed of processing4.

One theory about how creatine enhances brain function deals with the speed with which creatine helps produce ATP. Using creatine, the brain is able to create ATP up to 70x faster than other ATP producing pathways3. Researchers believe this may be of particular value when the brain experiences a heavy work load and may see a temporary decrease in fuel, which creatine supplementation may help offset, giving those that take creatine enhanced brain function compared to others.


Creatine is a substance found mostly in muscles but we also have a small amount in the brain. While creatine supplementation has been thoroughly researched in its ability to improve physical fitness, the effect on enhancing brain function is not as well studied. The majority of studies that have looked at the effect of creatine on brain function have found that creatine may enhance brain function, while a few found no effect. Creatine may enhance brain function through its role at increasing the speed of ATP production (energy production), allowing the brain to use ATP for energy at a faster rate than is normally seen through other traditional ATP producing pathways.


  1.  Rae, C. D., & Bröer, S. (2015). Creatine as a booster for human brain function. How might it work?. Neurochemistry international, 89, 249-259.
  2.  Watanabe, A., Kato, N., & Kato, T. (2002). Effects of creatine on mental fatigue and cerebral hemoglobin oxygenation. Neuroscience research, 42(4), 279-285.
  3.  Rae, C., Digney, A. L., McEwan, S. R., & Bates, T. C. (2003). Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double–blind, placebo–controlled, cross–over trial. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 270(1529), 2147-2150.

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By | 2018-07-04T15:02:03+00:00 October 23rd, 2017|Articles, Mental Health, Nutrition, Supplements|

About the Author:

Robert recently graduated from Montclair State University with a BS in Nutrition and Food Science. Robert enjoys researching various nutrition/wellness topics and has his own blog at: In his free time, Robert likes to read science fiction, watch horror movies and keep in shape by jogging and using workout DVD's like T25. To learn more about Rob, visit his website

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