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    The Surprising Benefits of Creatine for Brain Health

      |  Sep 13, 2023

    If you have a friend who’s idea of a great day starts at the gym, or if you’re a fitness enthusiast yourself, you’re probably familiar with the laundry list of supplements and treatments that fellow gym goers use to improve their performance. One of the most popular of those supplements is creatine, well loved for its ability to boost energy and improve exercise performance. But creatine isn’t just for building biceps; it can also have positive effects on your brain.

    What is creatine?

    Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in your body’s muscles and brain. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which helps build muscles and repair damaged tissues. Without taking creatine supplements, most people get half of their daily creatine from eating seafood and red meat, and drinking animal milk, while the rest is produced naturally by the body’s liver, kidney, and pancreas.

    As a supplement, creatine is commonly used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to enhance exercise performance. It typically comes in powdered form, and is mixed with water or other beverages. 

    How does it work?

    Creatine works by increasing your body’s production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that provides energy to cells. Commonly referred to as the body’s energy currency, added ATP can improve exercise performance and endurance, contributing to increased muscle strength and lean body mass. 

    Creatine is especially useful for athletes or fitness enthusiasts who have intense training regimens, as it reduces recovery time and can even prevent injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

    How does creatine impact cognitive health?

    While creatine is most commonly used as a supplement for exercise, it also has benefits for your brain. 95% of the body’s naturally created creatine goes to your muscles, while the other 5% is used in your brain. Similarly to your muscles, the brain uses energy from ATPs to function. And similar to exercise, your brain uses more ATP when completing a difficult task. 

    More research is still needed to fully characterize the cognitive effects of creatine supplementation, but it’s proposed that by increasing cellular energy in the brain, creatine supports brain cell metabolism and neurotransmission. Several studies have indicated that increasing your body’s levels of creatine through supplements can improve brain function, and provide relief from symptoms like brain fog, poor concentration, memory deficits, and mental fatigue. 

    If you’re experiencing symptoms of diminished mental clarity or fatigue, creatine supplements can help. Add a creatine monohydrate into your daily routine by mixing 5 grams into a glass of water or smoothie. If you have kidney dysfunction, it’s important to consult a doctor before taking creatine. Some studies also show that creatine may be less effective for AFAB people, but more research is still needed.

    Additional ways to improve cognitive function

    Reduced mental clarity and abilities are common side effects of aging, but you don’t have to suffer from less brain power just because you’re getting older. Alongside creatine supplements, there are a variety of treatments available to help improve cognitive function.

    NAD+ Injections have a multitude of benefits, from improving mental clarity to increasing overall longevity. NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a molecule that’s essential to a variety of cellular processes, and can decline naturally as you age. The brain is a very energy intensive organ, and utilizes a significant amount of NAD. There are no formal research studies demonstrating the effect of NAD+ injections or IVs on cognitive function, but there is a substantial amount of expert experience attesting to this impact. Injections are quick, and most people start seeing results after 4 - 8 treatments. NAD+ is also available through IV Therapy. While this method takes longer (3 hours compared to 15 minutes), patients typically see results on a faster timeline as IV therapy allows for better absorption rates.

    Neurofeedback therapy, once only available to athletes and executives, is now readily available to the public to improve cognitive function. Using a headset and a set of tasks, like playing a game or watching a video, you’ll receive feedback on your brain’s performance and, over time, learn how to control your brain waves for better cognitive function. Neurofeedback therapy typically takes 2-3 months to start producing results. 

    If you’re experiencing symptoms of declined cognitive function but aren’t sure what treatment is right for you, start with our Aging Wellness Assessment. This holistic assessment includes a cognitive test, a bone density scan, and a blood draw that measures 55 biomarkers that impact the aging process. You’ll work 1:1 with a licensed clinician to review the results of your assessment and determine what treatments or supplements are best for your individual health. Unsure where to start? Book a free consultation today.