Previous studies have suggested the role of creatine. a pre-protein compound found primarily in animal meats, in cognitive performance. Typically, vegetarians have lower muscle creatine. David Benton from the University of Swansea in Wales, United Kingdom, and colleagues gave 121 young women, both vegetarians and omnivores, either a daily creatine supplement—creatine monohydrate, 20 grams—or a placebo, for five days. The team conducted standardized cognitive tests on all subjects, both before and after the study.
Memory improved by about 40 percent in the vegetarians taking the creatine supplements, compared with the placebo. Additionally, creatine supplements reduced the variability of the women’s responses to a choice reaction-time task in both vegetarians and omnivores.
The researchers suggest that creatine in the form of phosphocreatine, a compound that acts as a reservoir of high-energy phosphate, plays a role in neurotransmission and thus may be the mechanism underlying the cognitive performance improvement.
Benton, D., and Donohoe, R. (2010). The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores. Brit J Nutr, doi:10.1017/S0007114510004733.
—Dr. Bob Goldman
Editor’s note: For the latest information and research on health and aging, subscribe to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine e-zine free at WorldHealth.net.