Dietary creatine and cognitive function in U.S. adults aged 60 years and over

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2021 Dec;33(12):3269-3274. doi: 10.1007/s40520-021-01857-4. Epub 2021 Apr 17.


Objectives: Recent clinical trials suggested a potential benefit of dietary creatine on cognitive function for aging individuals. However, the association between creatine consumption from food and cognitive function in the older adults remained undetermined at the populational level. The present study quantified the amount of creatine consumed through a regular diet among U.S. adults aged 60 years and over, and evaluated the link between dietary creatine and cognitive function using data from the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Methods: NHANES 2001-2002 round included a total of 1340 older adults (51.8% women; age 71.4 ± 7.8 years) who provided valid dietary information and cognitive testing measures. Dietary intake information was obtained from the NHANES Dietary Data component through a 24-h in-person dietary recall interview. Cognitive function was assessed using the WAIS III Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSS) conducted during the household interview.

Results: A bivariate model revealed a significant positive correlation between DSS scores and creatine intake across the whole sample (τb = 0.043; P = 0.02). The partial models demonstrated a significant correlation between creatine consumption and DSS score when adjusted for sociodemographic variables (r = 0.062; P = 0.039), and nutritional variables (r = 0.055; P = 0.049). The participants who consumed more than 0.95 g of creatine per day (3rd and 4th quartiles of creatine intake) were found to have higher scores on the cognitive functioning test as compared to their peers with lower creatine intake (1st and 2nd quartiles) (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that creatine from food might be protective against reduced cognitive performance in the older population. Further research is highly warranted to investigate the role of dietary creatine amount in cognitive function in the older adults.

Keywords: Aging; Cognitive function; Creatine; Cross-sectional; Diet; Meat.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition*
  • Creatine*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • United States


  • Creatine