Creatine is an important acid in the body when it comes to gaining muscle mass and performing better as a high intensity vegan athlete (or any athlete in general).
Dietary creatine comes entirely from animal products.
That’s why it’s not surprising that vegans receive no dietary creatine.
The question is whether or not that’s dangerous to our health as vegans, and whether or not we can and should supplement creatine.
That’s what I’ll answer in this post.
Do Vegans NEED Creatine?
First, let’s start off with the necessity of creatine in the diet.
Humans definitely need creatine in their bodies to function well, but we can produce some of it ourselves from amino acids.
In the vast majority of cases, we produce more than enough endogenously (internally) to suffer no health issues.
There is one rare case where a person is unable to synthesize creating due to mutations in gene encoding. The specifics are over my head, but you’d probably know if you had this very rare mutation.
So do all vegans need to supplement creatine in order to be healthy? The answer is simply no.
Dietary Creatine vs. Endogenous Creatine
As mentioned before, humans can produce creatine themselves (endogenous), or get it through their diet.
Endogenous Creatine Explained
About half of the creatine stored in our bodies (mostly in muscles) can be produced endogenously.
Studies have shown that endogenously produced creatine first goes to the brain. Then it will be stored in muscles once the brain has its fill.
The body produces its creatine from 3 amino acids:
It’s a simple series of reactions that can be replicated in a lab, as we’ll soon see.
Dietary Creatine for Vegans
Since vegans don’t eat animal products, we can’t get any creatine from our normal diet.
Studies have shown that while vegans and vegetarians have the same level of creatine stored in the brain, they have less stored in muscles.
However, creatine can be synthesized in a laboratory easily and cheaply, so vegans can use creatine supplements to get dietary creatine.
In fact, most (but not all) creatine supplements are vegan friendly.
I’ve written more specifically about this before in a post about creatine supplements that are vegan friendly.
How Creatine Helps Athletic Performance
Just because you don’t need creatine, doesn’t mean that it’s not a good idea to supplement it, especially for vegans who don’t get any in their diet.
When you perform any type of high intensity exercise, your energy is derived from ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
Those molecules lose phosphate groups in this process, and turn into ADP (adenosine diphosphate), and AMP (adenosine monophosphate).
Thinking about this in practical terms, creatine allows you to sustain your energy levels during high intensity exercise for longer.
If you are a high intensity athlete, whether it’s lifting, football, or whatever, creatine will improve your performance.
Being able to perform under those conditions for longer not only improve your performance, but will give you better results by letting you work harder (e.g. more quality sets when weight lifting).
Bringing it Together: Should Vegans Take Creatine
Vegans certainly don’t need to take creatine to be healthy.
However, if you have are a high intensity athlete, you should take creatine in most cases.
You will benefit from creatine supplementation more than the typical omnivore athlete because you have no creatine coming from the diet.