Table of Contents:
Top Health Benefits of Creatine Monohydrate
If you work out, you already use creatine.
And if don't, you're going to start today.
See, when it comes to performance boosting supplements, you’d be hard-pressed better than creatine.
Aside from carbs, creatine is the most widely used performance-booster in the world.
Creatine is a staple in every gym enthusiast's supplement stack for a few key reasons.
Reason 1: It’s dirt cheap.
One serving is cheaper than a cup of coffee. One serving mixes great in a cup of coffee. It’s one of the most affordable supplements you’ll come across at a modest handful of pennies per day.
Reason 2: The stuff works.
Thousands of studies show that creatine can increase strength, performance, and increase muscle mass.
Reason 3: No side effects.
Creatine is one of the safest sports supplements on earth.
In fact, Wallimann and colleagues think we should all be taking 3 grams of creatine per day for our whole life to promote general health .
So, creatine’s performance-boosting benefits are pretty much gospel at this point, but what else can it do?
The health benefits are plentiful.
Whether you're a weight-lifting YOLO or a health-conscious optimizer, creatine deserves a spot in your stack.
What Is Creatine and What Does It Do?
Creatine was first identified in 1982.
It’s a naturally-occurring substance that’s created in the liver; you can get it from foods like red meat, eggs, and seafood.
The body uses creatine in areas that have high energy demands (like the brain or muscle tissue). Creatine is used to increase energy production -- allowing them to work harder.
Supplementing with creatine provides your body with more of this valuable substance that can be used to generate more energy.
It’s simple, yet effective (a rarity in the sports supplement industry, no?).
Let's get to the health benefits.
1: Creatine is Neuroprotective and Cognitive-Enhancing
One of the most exciting discoveries about creatine was its effect on brain health.
Studies have shown that taking creatine can increase brain creatine content up to 15% .
Over a decade of research shows that supplementing creatine can enhance cognition, delay mental fatigue and increase oxygen flow to the brain .
For this reason, it's often considered the best "beginner's" nootropic.
Creatine is used by muscle cells (myocytes) to increase energy output, but it also works the same way in neurons (brain cells).
Imagine being forced to perform repeated, mental, mathematical calculations with the intention of reaching mental exhaustion.
This test is called the ‘Uchida Kraepelin’ test, and studies have shown that subjects taking creatine did much better on the test and showed significantly less mental fatigue compared to placebo .
In a separate study, subjects given 5 grams of creatine per day for six weeks demonstrated significant improvements in working memory and intelligence when compared to placebo .
Lastly, a study looking at adolescents who suffered from traumatic brain injury found significant improvements in symptoms after 6 months of taking creatine.
The number of subjects who reported dizziness was cut in half during the course of the trial, and the frequency of mental fatigue and headaches was decreased from a staggering 90% to approximately 10% .
We know that creatine is a cheap and effective form of insurance to help offset neurodegeneration. We also know it can enhance cognitive function at seemingly any age.
2: Creatine For A Healthy Pregnancy
Since creatine has been shown to improve brain and heart health, recent research has shown an interest in creatine use during pregnancy.
Early research shows that creatine can be useful to help promote healthy neural development and help recover from complications resulting from inadequate oxygen supply.
During pregnancy, there is an increased demand for and use of creatine since the fetus has to rely on the mother’s creatine stores.
Maternal creatine supplementation has been shown to improve successful birth rates and organ function in animals, and human studies have shown that supplementing with creatine during pregnancy can have positive effects on fetal growth, neural development, and health .
This is still a new area of research, but it’s clear that maternal creatine requirements increase during pregnancy, and supplementing is an easy way to increase maternal creatine stores in the body.
3: Creatine Can Improve Your Mood
A recent review published in the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that one of the potential health benefits of creatine is its ability to improve mood .
Improvements in mood have been seen in studies using 5 g of creatine per day over the course of 8 weeks.
Studies have also shown that creatine can improve depressive symptoms, but the exact mechanisms aren’t yet understood.
One of the leading explanations is that creatine acts on neurotransmitter balance and function in the brain.
Creatine has been shown to influence dopamine signaling and activity in the brain, but it has also been shown to impact inhibitory neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin.
Cell culture studies have also shown that creatine can increase the density of GABA receptors in brain cells and increase the amount of GABA that’s transferred to brain cells .
One pilot study measuring male subjects noted a significant increase in mood after creatine supplementation , and similar studies using female subjects found similar mood-boosting effects with creatine supplementation.
Interestingly, based on the available research, females seem to be more responsive to creatine’s effect on mood than males.
Though the exact mechanisms aren’t fully understood, it’s clear that creatine interacts with neurotransmitter metabolism in the brain and may improve mood in certain populations.
4: Creatine Supplementation is Associated with Healthy Aging (at any age)
A recent study from 2017 looked at over 1,000 different creatine studies and found that supplementation can improve various indicators of health status as we age .
Creatine supplementation has been shown to help:
Lower cholesterol and triglycerides
Reduce fat accumulation in the liver
Reduce homocysteine levels (a key marker of inflammation)
Increase antioxidant function and status
Normalize blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
Support healthy cell division
Minimize bone loss
Improve cognitive function
Help improve mood
Improve heart function
We recently published article on the top 5 supplements to replace your multivitamin, and is it any wonder why creatine made the list?