Can creatine supplements aid long COVID patients?

Can creatine supplements aid long COVID patients?

Dietary Creatine: Alleviating Post-COVID Fatigue and Improving Overall Symptoms

creatine supplements

Getting more creatine through diet could help alleviate chronic fatigue after long COVID, according to research.

Dietary creatine has been found to potentially alleviate the symptoms of post-viral fatigue syndrome, also known as PVFS, experienced by individuals with long COVID. This small-scale study sheds light on a potential solution that could provide relief to those suffering from the extended effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Creatine, often used as a workout supplement in recent times, plays a crucial role in enabling cells to produce and utilize energy throughout the body. In this study, participants who were given creatine for a span of six months after reporting long COVID symptoms experienced improvements in various areas such as fatigue, body aches, loss of taste, breathing problems, and concentration issues. These results were compared to a control group that received a placebo.

Long COVID can present individuals with a range of bewildering symptoms, including sleep problems, dizziness, chest pain, depression, and anxiety. People affected by post-viral fatigue syndrome may struggle with activities that were once effortless and may experience unsatisfying sleep, as well as difficulty recovering after physical exertion.

The study, which took place in Germany, monitored the effects of creatine on twelve individuals aged between 18 and 65, all of whom had confirmed COVID-19 infections within the previous three months. Each participant reported at least one persistent post-COVID symptom such as breathing problems, loss of smell or taste, lung pain, body aches, or difficulties concentrating.

Half of the participants were given four grams of dietary creatine daily in the form of Creavitalis, a food ingredient manufactured by Alzchem GmbH. The other half received an equal amount of a placebo called inulin. The study received funding from Alzchem GmbH and the Provincial Secretariat for Higher Education and Scientific Research in Trostberg, Germany.

The results of the study were published in Food Science and Nutrition, revealing that the group receiving dietary creatine experienced significant improvements in various symptoms. However, while dietary creatine seemed promising, it is important to note that the results should be interpreted with caution.

What is creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the human body. It exists in the form of phosphocreatine, which plays a vital role in maintaining the appropriate levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a compound crucial for various cellular functions. Such functions include muscle contraction, ion pumping, vesicle trafficking, and cytoskeletal rearrangement, among others.

Dr. Sergej Ostojic, the corresponding author of the study, hypothesized that creatine’s favorable effects in long COVID may be attributed not only to its role in recycling ATP for energy metabolism in the brain and skeletal muscle but also to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuromodulatory properties.

However, Professor Andrew R. Lloyd, an infectious disease physician and director of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Fatigue Clinic and Research Program, who was not involved in the study, raised concerns about the assumptions made in the research. He stated that there is currently no evidence of creatine deficiency in post-viral fatigue states, fibromyalgia, or long COVID. While there might be lower levels of creatine in the brains and muscles of long COVID patients, this may not necessarily indicate a deficiency.

Although the study design was generally well-executed, Professor Lloyd believes that it was too small to draw significant conclusions. Dr. Ostojic acknowledges this limitation but emphasizes that the study remains statistically sound. Due to the difficulties and high costs associated with recruitment, only a limited number of participants were included in the study.

Additional, larger-scale studies are necessary to further investigate creatine’s potential benefits on long COVID patients. It would also be beneficial to examine the impact of creatine supplementation on specific subgroups, such as the elderly, more severe COVID-19 cases, unvaccinated individuals, and those receiving additional interventions like breathing exercises, physiotherapy, or psychological support.

Regarding safety, Dr. Ostojic reports that the study did not reveal any major side effects of creatine intake. However, in-depth analysis and independent replication of the study’s findings are still required.

In conclusion, this study suggests that dietary creatine supplementation may have positive effects on post-COVID symptoms, including fatigue and other associated issues. While further research is needed to confirm these findings, the potential benefits of creatine in alleviating long COVID symptoms provide hope for individuals seeking relief from the lingering effects of the virus.