Golden Thinker ® – Encyclopedia of Substances – Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine Monohydrate 200mesh
What is Creatine?

Creatine is a non-essential amino acid which is synthesised by the body. It’s primarily made in the liver, kidneys and pancreas. In the body, creatine stores high-energy phosphate groups which are called phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine is a key player in the energy production processes of mitochondria.

Mitochondria are the ‘powerhouses’ of our cells, which produce energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Creatine contributes and helps to recharge this mitochondrial-produced energy by donating phosphate molecules which aid the production process of ATP.

Essentially, creatine re-charges the fuel store for our cells.

Since creatine has such a vital role in energy production, the molecule has become a staple supplement for athletic performance. It’s one of the most researched and effective molecules for building muscle strength and improving physical endurance. Creatine has been shown to increase muscle fibre size and improve weight training performance. There are also indications that creatine may improve performance during high-intensity exercise, such as sprints.

Creatine supplements come in a variety of formats. Creatine monohydrate is considered are the ‘gold-standard’ of supplements. It’s the most highly researched form of creatine and its effects have been proven repeatedly.

However, creatine does more than help with the physical body. In fact, neuroscientists are beginning to realise that creatine may be one of the most powerful and effective cognitive enhancers available. Mental activity is one of the most energy demanding processes of the body. As such, creatine can help to fulfil those needs and optimise cognition.

Creatine is now known to be critical for mental energy and cognitive sharpness. It also acts as a powerful neuroprotectant and antioxidant.

Brain Benefits and Mode of Action
Improves Mental Energy

A variety of human studies have shown that creatine can boost mental energy. People who supplement with creatine often report that the effects can be similar to a caffeine boost. However, creatine comes without the anxiety-inducing effects that can sometimes be associated with caffeine.

A double blind, placebo-controlled study showed that adults who supplemented with 5 grams of creatine daily for 5 days were subject to less mental fatigue that controls. They found that participants had more mental energy and acuity while performing complex math tests, compared to those who didn’t take creatine.

Mode of action: Creatine appears to increase the efficiency of oxygen utilisation in neurons. More efficient use of oxygen results in less mental fatigue.

Boosts Intelligence, Attention and Cognitive Ability

Creatine boosts I.Q and attention span. Research looking at the effects of 2-week creatine vs. placebo supplementation and compared performance on a battery of mental tests. The study found that participants who were given creatine supplements performed better on all intelligence and attention tests, and showed much less mental fatigue. Overall, creatine supplements improved I.Q, attention, working-memory and problem-solving skills.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that creatine supplementation positively improves synaptic plasticity. Neurons use microscopic pieces of equipment referred to as ‘synapses’ to communicate. These synapses sprout from long branch-like processes (called dendrites) attached to the cell body, allowing them flourish into almost infinitely complex patterns and engage with numerous other neurons. With novel experiences or repetitions of activity, cells will form new synapses, strengthen existing connections, and groups of neurons will establish intricate networks which allow them to communicate easily. This is referred to a neuroplasticity. Increasing the synaptic plasticity improves memory and fosters creative and intelligent thought.

Mouse models have shown the creatine supplementation also increase the levels of a number of important synaptic proteins. These include proteins such as PSD-95 and Egr2, which are known to be important for optimal cognitive function. Subsequently, mice fed a creatine-supplemented diet perform better on learning and memory tests.

Enhances Memory

Along with a general boost in cognitive abilities, creatine appears to specifically enhance memory. One study found that levels of creatine were correlated with better working-memory. Researchers have speculated that this is because higher resting-levels of creatine allow for higher ATP production. This increase in cellular energy may allow for greater neuronal activation during memory related tasks.

Creatine also enhances the function of mitochondria. A landmark 2004 study showed that mitochondria contained within dendrites are critical for the maintenance of synapses. The researchers found that dysfunctional mitochondria can have a negative impact on synapse support, and can lead to a loss of synapses. Decay of synapses has a direct negative impact on our memories. Creatine may well be an important factor in maintaining synaptic health and memory by keeping mitochondria healthy.

Mode of action: Creatine supplementation has been shown to increase synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, which may lead to improved memory. Creatine also helps to improve mitochondrial function, which is vital for neuronal energy levels and synaptic health.

Protects and Repairs Brain Cells

Creatine has also been shown to help boost neuronal recovery after brain injury. Studies looking at patients who had previously sustained head injuries, show that supplementing with creatine reduced the incidence of fatigue, dizziness and headache.

A 2017 study showed that creatine may have therapeutic benefits for conditions such as multiple sclerosis. In these conditions, neurons lose the fatty substance called myelin which insulate axons. These myelin sheath allow electrical signals to be sent quickly between neurons, and are essential for efficient network communication. Creatine was shown to enhance survival of cells called oligodendrocytes. These cells are responsible for myelinating axons, and increasing their survival can lead to better axonal health. This is good news for those suffering with so-called ‘de-myelinating disorder’, but also may contribute to some of the cognitive benefits associated with creatine.

Mode of action: Creatine boosts the production of ATP, which can often decline after injury. By increasing ATP production, creatine can produce a powerful healing effect to damaged brain cells. Creatine also promotes the health and survival of cells which restore myelin around axons. These cells are important in repairing damage to brain tissues, and promoting their survival can enhance healing and overall brain health. Finally, since creatine has a powerful antioxidant effect, it protects neurons from damaging free radicals.

How to Use

There are a variety of forms of creatine available on the market. The best and most well-research form of creatine is creatine monohydrate. This form of creatine has been shown to provide incredible neurological benefits, while being very safe for consumption.

Since there are many forms of creatine available, it’s important to make sure you’re consuming high quality creatine monohydrate without any other additives.

Recommended Dose: 5 grams/day

We recommend a dose of 5 grams per day to see the best nootropic effects of creatine. It’s also recommended that you take creatine supplements with some form of carbohydrate in order to maximise absorption.

Creatine can take a while to build up to appropriate levels in the body. This means it may take a few weeks to feel the true effects of the supplements. If you’d like to see the benefits faster, it is safe to take up to 20grams per day for a week, then reduce back down to 5 grams afterward. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘loading’ stage, and can build up creatine levels more quickly.

Since creatine produces a stimulating effect in the brain, we recommend this supplement be taken in the morning to avoid sleep disturbance.

Since creatine is naturally produced by the body, supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated by most people. Taking above the recommended dose can cause excessive work for the liver and kidneys. If you have any liver or kidney problems, it’s recommended that you speak to a doctor before supplementing with creatine.

Side effects of creatine supplements are mild and usually only occur with too high a dose. These can include mild gas, stomach issues, increased urination, reduced appetite, water retention and mild headaches.

Classification: Energy, Cognition, Memory, Strength

We’ve classified creatine as a mental energy, memory and cognition enhancer. This is because creatine has the ability to boost mental focus and energy, while optimising brain health for better cognition and memory. Creatine also has neuroprotective effect which may help us maintain good memory and cognition throughout the aging process.

We’ve also classified creatine as a major player in physical strength. This is because there is a vast body of research which show creatine enhances our athletic performance, muscle strength and endurance.

Overall, creatine is a powerful supplement for both brain and body!

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