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



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).


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.


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).


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.

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Correspondence to Sergej M. Ostojic.

Ethics declarations

The study procedures were structured in line with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Conflict of Interest

S.M.O. serves as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board on creatine in health and medicine (AlzChem LLC). S.M.O. owns patent “Sports Supplements Based on Liquid Creatine” at European Patent Office (WO2019150323 A1), and active patent application “Synergistic Creatine” at UK Intellectual Property Office (GB2012773.4). S.M.O. has served as a speaker at Abbott Nutrition, a consultant of Allied Beverages Adriatic and IMLEK, and an advisory board member for the University of Novi Sad School of Medicine, and has received research funding related to creatine from the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development, Provincial Secretariat for Higher Education and Scientific Research, AlzChem GmbH, KW Pfannenschmidt GmbH, and ThermoLife International LLC. S.M.O. is an employee of the University of Novi Sad and does not own stocks and shares in any organization. D.K. and V.S. declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The ethical approval to conduct the NHANES 2001–2002 was granted by the NHANES Institutional Review Board (Protocol #98-12).

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The study procedures were structured in line with the Declaration of Helsinki.

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The informed consent was obtained from all participants.

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Ostojic, S.M., Korovljev, D. & Stajer, V. Dietary creatine and cognitive function in U.S. adults aged 60 years and over. Aging Clin Exp Res 33, 3269–3274 (2021).

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  • Creatine
  • Cognitive function
  • Aging
  • Cross-sectional
  • Meat
  • Diet