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Research undertaken by scientists at the University of Sydney and Macquarie University in Australia has shown that taking creatine, a compound found in muscle tissue, as a dietary supplement can give a significant boost to both working memory and general intelligence. The work, to be published in a forthcoming Proceedings B, a learned journal published by the Royal Society, monitored the effect of creatine supplementation on 45 young adult vegetarian subjects in a double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment.

"The level of creatine supplementation chosen was 5g per day as this is a level that has previously been shown to increase brain creatine levels. This level is comparable to that taken to boost sports fitness," explains Dr. Caroline Rae who led the research. "Vegetarians or vegans were chosen for the study as carnivores and omnivores obtain a variable level of creatine depending on the amount and type of meat they eat - although to reach the level of supplementation in this experiment would involve eating around 2 kg of meat a day!"

Creatine power

Athletes and fitness fanatics have known that creatine supplementation can increase sports performance and the compound - a close relative of the amino acids - has also been trialed successfully in the treatment of neurological, neuromuscular and atherosclerotic disease. "We know that creatine plays a pivotal role in maintaining energy levels in the brain," says Dr. Rae. "So it was a reasonable hypothesis that supplementing a diet with creatine could assist brain function."

The experiment tested this hypothesis by giving the one group of subjects a creatine supplement and a second group a placebo for six weeks, followed by a six week period with no intake and a final six week period when the control and placebo group were swapped. Intelligence and memory were tested at four points: the start of the trial; the end of the first six week period; and the start and endpoint of the final
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Contact: Tim Reynolds
tim.reynolds@belgacom.net
32-2640-3226
Royal Society
13-Aug-2003


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