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The role of dietary creatine

Abstract

The daily requirement of a 70-kg male for creatine is about 2 g; up to half of this may be obtained from a typical omnivorous diet, with the remainder being synthesized in the body Creatine is a carninutrient, which means that it is only available to adults via animal foodstuffs, principally skeletal muscle, or via supplements. Infants receive creatine in mother’s milk or in milk-based formulas. Vegans and infants fed on soy-based formulas receive no dietary creatine. Plasma and muscle creatine levels are usually somewhat lower in vegetarians than in omnivores. Human intake of creatine was probably much higher in Paleolithic times than today; some groups with extreme diets, such as Greenland and Alaskan Inuit, ingest much more than is currently typical. Creatine is synthesized from three amino acids: arginine, glycine and methionine (as S-adenosylmethionine). Humans can synthesize sufficient creatine for normal function unless they have an inborn error in a creatine-synthetic enzyme or a problem with the supply of substrate amino acids. Carnivorous animals, such as lions and wolves, ingest much larger amounts of creatine than humans would. The gastrointestinal tract and the liver are exposed to dietary creatine in higher concentrations before it is assimilated by other tissues. In this regard, our observations that creatine supplementation can prevent hepatic steatosis (Deminice et al. J Nutr 141:1799–1804, 2011) in a rodent model may be a function of the route of dietary assimilation. Creatine supplementation has also been reported to improve the intestinal barrier function of the rodent suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.

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Abbreviations

AGAT:

Arginine:glycine amidinotransferase

GAA:

Guanidinoacetic acid

GAMT:

Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase

HIF:

Hypoxia inducible transcription factor

SAM:

S-adenosylmethionine

SLC6A8:

Creatine transporter

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by Grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (RNL 119957) and the Research Development Corporation (5404-1433-101. We thank Dr. Jennifer R. Stevens for assistance with the figures.

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Correspondence to John T. Brosnan.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article is a review summarizing the results and conclusions of published studies on human or animal subjects. All of the work carried out in our laboratories was approved by our local Ethics Committees.

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Handling Editor: T. Wallimann and R. Harris.

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Brosnan, M.E., Brosnan, J.T. The role of dietary creatine. Amino Acids 48, 1785–1791 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-016-2188-1

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Keywords

  • Creatine synthesis
  • Creatine kinase
  • Steatohepatitis
  • Paleolithic diet
  • Intestinal barrier function