Creatine Consumption and it’s Impact on Brain Health​

Creatine supplementation for brain health and function is a topic that is becoming more widely studied, however, there are minimal studies regarding this topic as the focus has been on creatine and musculoskeletal effects. 

The brain utilizes creatine in similar ways, however a knowledge gap remains. Creatine’s primary goal is to facilitate energy provision during times of accelerated ATP resynthesis, and while there is only a small percentage of creatine in the brain (<5%), it is essential for energy production because the brain is metabolically active (Dolan et al, 2019). The brain is reliant on a constant energy supply, as it is responsible for 20% of basal metabolism (Dolan et al, 2019). 

The brain being responsible for basal metabolism means that there is a high, permanent need for high energy compounds such as creatine (Candow et al, 2023). Due to this, creatine plays a critical role in the optimal functioning of the brain as it maintains the intracellular levels of ATP during times of high energy demands on the brain (Candow et al, 2023). It was found that creatine supplementation can help facilitate a more constant regeneration of ATP in the brain during times of accelerated ATP turnover (complex brain activities), or in disrupted ATP turnover (such as hypoxia, sleep deprivation, and various neurological conditions), due to the decrease of creatine in the brain (Roschel et al, 2021). Creatine can be synthesized in the liver and transported to the brain through the blood brain barrier, via the creatine transporter (CT1) (Roschel et al, 2021). There are two different sources that creatine can be sourced from; dietary sources or endogenous production from the liver and brain cells (Roschel et al, 2021). Creatine supplementation can increase brain creatine stores, which can have a positive effect on cognition and memory (Candow et al, 2023). 

Following a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI), there is an ATP demand alteration due to reduced blood flow to the brain (Roschel et al, 2021), and a decrease in the concentration of creatine found in the brain. It was found that creatine supplementation following an mTBI may reduce the severity, and enhance the recovery from an mTBI (Roschel et al, 2021), by offsetting the negative changes in energy status. It has also been shown that there may be a decrease headaches, dizziness, and fatigue following an mTBI with creatine supplementation (Roschel et al, 2021). Creatine supplementation may also benefit mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. It was found that creatine supplementation may decrease depressive behaviours (Forbes et al, 2022), however these studies were mostly conducted on female participants. Creatine supplementation was found to have little effect on generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD, although there are limited studies in this area (Forbes et al, 2022). Furthermore, creatine supplementation did not show any significant effects on neurological diseases, while some studies showed that there was an increase in physical performance and reduced muscle fatigue following amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and a decrease in the loss of dopaminergic neurons following Parkinson’s disease (Forbes et al, 2022). 

There have not been enough studies to show the amount of creatine that is needed for creatine to increase in the brain, however, it can be assumed that a higher amount of creatine would need to be taken for a long period of time (Forbes et al, 2021), when compared to creatine supplementation requirements for the muscles. The effects of creatine supplementation for brain function are limited due to the amount of studies that have been done on this topic, however, there are promising effects in the benefits of creatine supplementation for brain health and function.



1) Candow, D. G., Forbes, S. C., Ostojic, S. M., Prokopidis, K., Stock, M. S., Harmon, K. K., & Faulkner, P. (2023). “heads up” for creatine supplementation and its potential applications for Brain Health and function. Sports Medicine.

2) Dolan, E., Gualano, B., & Rawson, E. S. (2018). Beyond muscle: The effects of creatine supplementation on brain creatine, cognitive processing, and Traumatic Brain Injury. European Journal of Sport Science, 19(1), 1–14.

3) Forbes, S. C., Cordingley, D. M., Cornish, S. M., Gualano, B., Roschel, H., Ostojic, S. M., Rawson, E. S., Roy, B. D., Prokopidis, K., Giannos, P., & Candow, D. G. (2022). Effects of creatine supplementation on Brain Function and Health. Nutrients, 14(5), 921. nu14050921

4) Roschel, H., Gualano, B., Ostojic, S. M., & Rawson, E. S. (2021). Creatine supplementation and Brain Health. Nutrients, 13(2), 586.

This blog post was written by Concussion Care Kelowna Kinesiologist Rhianne McWilliam. (BHK, BCAK, CATT)