We’ve all heard about Creatine in the fitness arena, but what exactly do we know about it’s anti-aging benefits? In a nutshell, creatine works to help generate energy. It has been shown to increase strength and muscle mass in young adults in literally dozens of studies at this point.
However, there has always been little data examining its effects on older adults until more recently. One of the greatest threats to an aging adult's ability to stay healthy and functional is the steady loss of lean body-mass (muscle and bone in particular) as they age.
The medical term for the loss of muscle is sarcopenia, and it's starting to get the recognition it deserves by the medical and scientific community. The decline in muscle mass (sarcopenia) with aging may be related to a decline in mitochondrial function. Without these high energy compounds, which every cell in our body depends to function, the cell and the entire organism (us!) dies. Enter, Creatine. Creatine supplementation not only helps us sustain lean muscle mass as we age, but has numerous physiological effects, which have the potential to substantially reduce morbidity and mortality. Creatine appears to reduce mental fatigue in scenarios such as demanding mental activity and sleep deprivation. It may also improve working memory, though likely only for people with below-average creatine levels, such as vegetarians and older adults.
Creatine is not only produced in the body from amino acids, but is derived from foods we eat like meat and fish. Athletes commonly take it as a powder or in capsules. There are many different forms of creatine available on the market, but creatine monohydrate is the cheapest and most effective. Another option is micronized creatine monohydrate, which dissolves in water more easily and can be a bit more practical to consume.
There are several lines of evidence to suggest creatine supplementation improves insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance appears to be a central metabolic aberration contributing to unhealthy aging and reduced lifespan.
Oxidative stress is another fundamental mechanism of biological aging. Antioxidants defuse free radicals and reduce the damage they inflict upon biological systems. Creatine has been found in several studies to possess antioxidant properties.
Another “anti-aging” effect of creatine supplementation is to increase intracellular water content. Aging is associated with loss of intracellular water. Phosphocreatine has also been found to reduce leakage of cytoplasmic contents, such as intracellular enzymes. This may be attributed, in part, to phosphocreatine's ability to stabilize cellular membranes and prevent tissue damage.
Few supplements produce a noticeable change in health as rapidly as creatine monohydrate. Typically, results are experienced within a few days. Weight training enhances the muscle and strength building effects of creatine supplementation. Weight training and creatine supplementation should be a cornerstone of every "Anti-Aging" program. The wide-ranging and powerful anti-senescent properties of creatine make it a fundamental nutritional supplement to promote healthy aging.