The brain, although it represents only about 2% of the total body mass, is an extremely energetic organ, consuming approximately 20% of the total energy at rest. Neurons, in turn, require a constant supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for various cellular processes, including the maintenance of ionic gradients, neurotransmitter exocytosis, and sinapotic functioning. Now, understand once and for all the relationship creatine and brain: what does literature bring?
In this circumstance, it makes sense to think about creatine supplementation for periods of increased metabolic demand, such as sleep deprivation, mental health problems or neurological diseases, since it is a nitrogenous organic compound derived from reactions involving the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine, important for atp resynthesizing.
Through a reversible reaction catalyzed by creatine kinase, phosphorylcreatine (PCr) combines with adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to resynthesize ATP. In this context, PCr functions as a high-energy molecule capable of resynthesizing ATP significantly faster when compared to oxidative phosphorylation and glycolytic processes.
Thus, the vast majority of creatine is stored in the human body being synthesized in the kidneys and liver, however, its synthesis can also occur in an endogenous way in the brain or through its ability to cross the blood brain barrier and accumulate in this organ. However, it is necessary to consider that the uptake of cerebral creatine is limited to other tissues such as skeletal muscle, due to the low permeability to pass this substance, which makes it necessary for the total intake to be higher or for a longer period of time to produce significant effects on cognitive performance.
Creatine and brain
The importance of this supplementation for cognitive function comes mainly from a context in which there are individuals with creatine deficiency syndrome, known to deplete brain stocks. This is characterized by mental and developmental disorders such as learning delays and seizures, and these symptoms are reversed, at least in part, with supplementation.
Thus, it is possible to find in the literature studies that demonstrate improvements in memory with the dosage of 20 g/day for 7 days, and these effects is also observed in vegetarian individuals, ensuring the efficacy of this type of supplementation in this population, which normally have low creatine stocks because they do not eat meat. Although there are few studies, it is also possible to observe improvement in cognitive function in individuals undergoing sleep deprivation when compared to the placebo group, since in these brain bioenergetics is altered.
Neurodegenerative Diseases and Creatine
It is known that the molecule of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and creatine kinase (CK) are indispensable to obtain central nervous system homeotase (CNS), so it is assumed that increasing the content of cerebral creatine is potentially beneficial for different clinical conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases. These are commonly characterized as conditions that involve a progressive and irreversible loss of neuronal function, thus hindering the ability to perform cognitive and/or motor tasks.
Thus, according to the understanding of the possible effects of creatine on strength, muscle mass and functionality, supplementation should be considered as an auxiliary therapy in order to minimize physical deficiencies related to diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
In addition, oxidative stress, energy depletion and mitochondrial damage are common characteristics in neurodegenerative diseases, in which creatine can intervene by eliminating reactive oxygen species and increasing energy production.
Clinical Practice on creatine and brain
Finally, it is established that creatine supplementation may have favorable effects on skeletal muscle mass measurements and cognitive performance. Being that, when one thinks of its numerous therapeutic applicability, it is necessary to prescribe it to be indispensable for any public. Therefore, do not let the patient leave his office without the indication of this supplementation extremely beneficial to the man.
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Creatine supplementation: from muscle to brain, from heart to intestine, from sport to health
Forbes SC, Cordingley DM, Cornish SM, Gualano B, Roschel H, Ostojic SM, Rawson ES, Roy BD, Prokopidis K, Giannos P, Candow DG. Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Brain Function and Health. Nutrients. 2022 Feb 22;14(5):921. doi: 10.3390/nu14050921. PMID: 35267907; PMCID: PMC8912287.