In the last health alert, I showed you how statins can destroy your brain. In this issue, I want to tell you about a nutrient that can protect your brain, make it sharper, and even boost your memory.

It's the nutrient creatine. Creatine is well known for its ability to enhance muscle performance. But now it shows promise for brain function as well.

Researchers recently assigned a group of 32 elderly patients to receive creatine (5 gm daily for a week) or placebo. Creatine improved their cognitive performance in several tests. These included random number generation, forward number recall, spatial recall, and long-term memory tasks. Only one function tested did not improve - backward number recall.

You might wonder why a muscle-building supplement would help build your brain. Creatine is required in the production of ATP, your cells' energy supply. And if it can improve ATP in muscle, it will do similarly in other cells. Cognitive loss in many is simply a loss of energy in critical brain cells.

Additionally, creatine may participate in the removal of toxic glutamate from your neurons. The latter is an excitotoxin, which can literally stimulate neurons to death.

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Creatine is very safe for use in the short term. For the longer-term use, there are fears that supplementing creatine will cause your body to naturally produce less, much like taking hormones does. What literature is available suggests that this does not happen with creatine. But let your integrative doctor know if you intend to use it for the long term. That's one way we can find out if problems arise.

Ref: Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn, 2007; 14(5)

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