Study: Creatine Supplementation Linked to Memory Boost in Older Adults

A recent study suggests that creatine supplementation could enhance memory, particularly among older adults. This finding indicates the potential for creatine to be a valuable tool in supporting cognitive health as we age.

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Study: Creatine Supplementation Linked to Memory Boost in Older Adults
3 Min Read March 11th, 2024

Has your memory started to feel less sharp than it once was? It's normal for memory to slow down a bit with aging, but are there ways to enhance it?

The number of people living with dementia is on the rise. According to the Alzheimer's Association, an estimated 6.2 million Americans currently have Alzheimer's dementia, the most common form. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a stepping stone on the path to dementia, affecting an estimated one in five adults aged 65 and older. This translates to millions more people experiencing memory problems that are more severe than typical age-related decline but not yet reaching the level of dementia.

This growing population raises concerns as both MCI and dementia can significantly impact a person's daily life and independence. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for managing symptoms and improving the quality of life for those with MCI and dementia while also providing support for their caregivers.

A new meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrition Reviews suggests that creatine supplementation may improve memory function, particularly in older adults. This research could lead to treatment to delay memory issues in older adults.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in the body and in certain foods like red meat and fish. It plays a vital role in cellular energy production, specifically in the regeneration of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell's primary energy molecule. Supplementation can increase the body's creatine stores, which is why it's commonly used by athletes to enhance physical performance.

The study's authors, led by Konstantinos Prokopidis, were interested in exploring the potential cognitive benefits of creatine due to the brain's high energy demands. They conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis, analyzing data from eight published randomized controlled trials that examined the effects of creatine supplements on memory function in healthy adults.

The analysis revealed that creatine supplementation improved memory compared to a placebo. This effect was especially pronounced in older adults (aged 66-76) compared to younger participants (aged 11-31). 

Interestingly, the researchers found no significant differences in the effects based on gender, duration of supplementation (5 days to 24 weeks), creatine dosage (2.2 to 20 grams per day), or geographical location of the study participants.

Older Adults Showed Improvement

The study authors concluded that older adults showed the most benefit.

"This systematic review and meta-analysis revealed that creatine monohydrate supplementation has a beneficial effect on memory performance in healthy individuals. Subgroup analysis showed the effects of creatine were more robust in older adults."

It's important to note that the study authors also acknowledged limitations in the research they analyzed. Many of the included experiments were rated as moderate quality, and the studies used various memory assessment tools, potentially affecting the accuracy of the combined findings.

Those with Kidney Problems May Want to Avoid

While the research suggests a potential benefit of creatine supplementation for memory, particularly in older adults. However, there are older adults who have abnormal creatine levels and kidney disease, making treatment for them problematic. 

Those with abnormal creatine levels and kidney issues should generally avoid taking creatine supplements. Here's a breakdown of the risks:

  • Increased strain on kidneys: The kidneys naturally break down and filter creatine. In individuals with pre-existing kidney problems, additional creatine from supplements may overburden the kidneys and worsen their function.
  • Misinterpretation of lab results: Creatine supplementation can raise blood creatine levels, which can mask underlying issues with creatine metabolism or kidney function. This can lead to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of kidney problems.

Growing Risk Means Planning and More Research

The research is very preliminary; additional high-quality studies using standardized memory assessments are needed to confirm these findings. However, with an aging population, increased cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer's and other dementia, and growing numbers of people who require long-term care and supervision, research and individual planning are still essential. 

Planning for long-term care and finding quality options for caregivers for older adults already needing care are essential for family planning. 

The LTC NEWS Caregiver Directory can help you find quality caregivers and facilities at no cost from the 80,000+ providers within the directory.

For those in their 40s through 60s, Long-Term Care Insurance should be considered part of their retirement plan to fund the rising cost of care services. 

Aging is a natural part of life; proactive planning can make navigating it smoother. Relying on future cures or treatments isn't wise, as research can often take decades to yield results.

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About the Author

Linda is a former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in so she “can keep her mind active and engaged”.

LTC News Contributor Linda Maxwell

Linda Maxwell

Contributor since December 11th, 2017

Editor's Note

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