Creatine supplementation in the aging population: effects on skeletal muscle, bone and brain

Abstract

This narrative review aims to summarize the recent findings on the adjuvant application of creatine supplementation in the management of age-related deficits in skeletal muscle, bone and brain metabolism in older individuals. Most studies suggest that creatine supplementation can improve lean mass and muscle function in older populations. Importantly, creatine in conjunction with resistance training can result in greater adaptations in skeletal muscle than training alone. The beneficial effect of creatine upon lean mass and muscle function appears to be applicable to older individuals regardless of sex, fitness or health status, although studies with very old (>90 years old) and severely frail individuals remain scarce. Furthermore, there is evidence that creatine may affect the bone remodeling process; however, the effects of creatine on bone accretion are inconsistent. Additional human clinical trials are needed using larger sample sizes, longer durations of resistance training (>52 weeks), and further evaluation of bone mineral, bone geometry and microarchitecture properties. Finally, a number of studies suggest that creatine supplementation improves cognitive processing under resting and various stressed conditions. However, few data are available on older adults, and the findings are discordant. Future studies should focus on older adults and possibly frail elders or those who have already experienced an age-associated cognitive decline.

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Acknowledgments

Bruno Gualano is financially supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP), Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa e Tecnologia (CNPq) e Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES).

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Correspondence to Bruno Gualano.

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Bruno Gualano, Eric Rawson, and Darren G. Candow received financial support from Alzchem (Germany) for attending the scientific conference “Creatine in Health, Sport and Medicine 2015”. Bruno Gualano has also received a research grant from Alzchem for studies involving creatine supplementation. At the time this manuscript was prepared, Eric S. Rawson was a member of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute Expert Panel.

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Handling Editor: T. Wallimann and R. Harris.

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Gualano, B., Rawson, E.S., Candow, D.G. et al. Creatine supplementation in the aging population: effects on skeletal muscle, bone and brain. Amino Acids 48, 1793–1805 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-016-2239-7

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Keywords

  • Dietary supplement
  • Exercise
  • Bone, skeletal muscle, brain
  • Elderly