Neat article from Women's Health Mag:
Creatine isn’t just for muscle men. Turns out, the muscle-building dietary supplement can fight depression in the fairer sex.
A study from three South Korean universities and the University of Utah reports that taking 5 grams of creatine with a daily antidepressant helps women with major depression recover two times faster than those who take the antidepressant alone.
Will creatine help you battle depression? Consider these facts to find out:
What is creatine?
You may know creatine as a supplement used by bodybuilders and athletes to bulk up. However, it’s actually an amino acid that we all produce naturally and take in whenever we eat meat and fish. Our bodies convert creatine to a molecule called phosphocreatine, which is stored in our muscles and brain to help deliver instantaneous energy whenever we need it. Many muscly men take creatine for the energy to train harder and more often.
How does creatine work for depression?
One of the biggest symptoms of depression is mental fatigue. When suffering from depression, even the most routine tasks feel as impossible as getting the colors to line up on a Rubik’s cube. That’s where researchers believe creatine can help. By upping the brain’s levels of energy-revving phosphocreatine, it could help the brain do its job—from figuring out that Rubik’s cube to warding off depression—more easily, says Dr. Perry F. Renshaw, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah medical school and senior author on the study. The effect has only been shown in women, and Renshaw believes female sex hormones are to thank. Still, more research is needed to pinpoint exactly how creatine does the job.
Does creatine improve symptoms of depression when it’s taken without antidepressants?
Tests perform on rats suggest that creatine can fight depression all on its own. “Rats love creatine more than Prozac,” says Renshaw, who believes the heightened levels of energy in the brain help them battle beady-eyed depression. Plus, creatine helps protect neural cells from death. So even if it doesn’t keep you smiling, it can keep you smarter. Previous studies have shown creatine to heighten people’s performance on mental tasks, Renshaw notes.
Will I bulk up from taking creatine?
If you’re taking creatine to reach your fitness goal, you’re probably throwing back 20 to 30 grams of creatine a day. However, the recommended depression-fighting dose is only 5 grams a day, which won’t cause most women to Hulk up. What’s more, creatine was shown to have little to no side effects in women during the study.
Where can I get creatine?
Flavored and unflavored creatine powders are readily available at GNC and other supplement shops. (They’re meant to be mixed with water and drank.) To play it safe for your stomach, take creatine—like any supplement—with a meal, Renshaw suggests. You can also up your creatine intake the ol’ fashioned way: Meat and fish contain high levels of the important amino acid. (There’s one explanation as to why vegetarians have higher rates of depression than their omnivore friends.)