Creatine and Your Brain – Mood, Brain and Athletic Support

Dear Friends: Using targeted supplements or nutraceuticals to have better health and improve one’s overall performance is an important concept for many of us in the health and wellness world.

Today we showcase one of my favorite supplements, and one I personally use regularly: creatine. This amazing molecule- its 3 amino acids combined together- has, unfortunately, had a love-hate relationship with armchair “experts” in the sports and nutrition world.

Creatine plays an important role in the production of cellular energy because it helps the body make ATP, the molecule needed by all of the body’s cells and the one that has been shown to support increased work capacity and power output of muscle while also promoting physical endurance and lean body mass gain.

Its track record for safety and efficacy for athletic performance is outstanding and well documented.

I’d like to showcase the more recent research demonstrating improvement in mood and brain- “outmuscling depression” as it were with creatine.

The excellent team at have an informative deep dive into this area in a recent newsletter– I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the key links below:

More creatine in the diet is associated with lower risk of major depression.

Women being treated for depression who add creatine to their regimen experience faster and more complete resolution of symptoms. 

Creatine supplementation reduces mental fatigue when repeatedly performing arithmetic equations.

Creatine enhances intelligence test scores and working memory performance in vegetarians.

There’s more exciting research:

Effect of creatine supplementation and sleep deprivation, with mild exercise, on cognitive and psychomotor performance, mood state, and plasma concentrations of catecholamines and cortisol.

Will Brink is an excellent resource in the academic sports nutrition world and has some more detailed resources on creatine improving depression.

Creatine And Depression: Review

Furthermore, research in creatine is being linked to:

Reduction of markers of aging

Improvement in Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome

Support in weight loss

Wend Irlbeck is a dynamic and knowledgeable nutritionist and consultant in athletic performance. Here are some of her helpful resources.

5 things You Need to Know About Creatine by Wendi Irlbeck MS, RSN, CISSA

  • Not a Steroid
  • Reduces Muscle Cramps and Injury Risk
  • Improves Athletic Performance
  • Protects the Brain
  • Very Safe

Should Young Athletes Use Creatine? by Wendi Irlbeck MS, RSN, CISSA

There is robust literature to support the beneficial effects creatine has on body composition, physical performance, injury prevention, recovery, brain health, and clinical use. Currently, there have not been any negative effects associated with the use of CM in both the adolescent and adult population. Adolescent athletes under the age of 18, and even children as young as infants, can safely consume CM. There is zero evidence to suggest CM supplementation would cause harm, dehydration, cramping, or any other outlandish claims that have been disproven by Antonio et al., 2021, and others. Not incorporating a CM supplement would be a disservice to your athletes or even yourself!

How to Use

Creatine usually and most effectively is taken as a powder. The typical dose is 5 grams daily and as needed, although many use 5-20 grams regularly with good benefit. For exercise and athletic benefit, it’s most commonly taken post-exercise with a carbohydrate and protein. For its other benefits, it can be taken at any time.

I often take it in the morning with my other cocktail of supplements for focus and brain and energy support and then a second dose if I’ve exercised.

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Yours in health-

Dr. Pappas and the Pappas Health team