Is Creatine a Vegan Friendly Supplement?

If you’re following a vegan diet and are considering taking creatine to enhance your exercise performance, you may be wondering if it is vegan-friendly. 

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally-occuring compound made from three amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. It is found mainly in the body’s muscle tissue but small amounts can also be found in the brain and male testes [1].

The body’s liver, kidneys, and pancreas help to produce about 1 gram of creatine per day and the rest is obtained through the diet [2].

Creatine is an incredibly well-researched and popular sports performance supplement. Your body stores creatine in the muscle tissue as phosphocreatine to be used to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is your body’s main source of energy [3].

Increasing your phosphocreatine stores is believed to increase exercise capacity, improve performance, boost muscle growth, and support recovery [3].

What are the Food Sources of Creatine?

Aside from what our body produces, we also obtain creatine from our diet. Creatine can be found in animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs. 

Because of this, those following a vegan or vegetarian diet typically have lower phosphocreatine stores in their muscle tissue [2].

It can be challenging to get enough creatine from dietary sources to obtain the similar benefits of a creatine supplement. 

How are Creatine Supplements Made?

The most well-researched type of creatine is creatine monohydrate, which is found in a wide variety of dietary supplements. 

Creatine monohydrate can be manufactured by combining sodium sarcosine (a metabolite of the amino acid glycine) and cyanamide (a white solid made in agriculture combined with organic compounds typically found in toothpaste) [4, 5, 6].

These compounds are combined with heat in a reactor. Once cooled, it then goes through a purification process using a centrifuge. The results are dried and milled into a fine powder to be easily dissolved in liquid for use in nutrition supplements [5, 6].

Are Creatine Supplements Vegan?

Sodium sarcosine and cyanamide, the typical ingredients used to make creatine monohydrate are not sourced from animals therefore, many creatine supplements are vegan-friendly. 

However, creatine capsule supplements likely contain bovine gelatin and are not vegan-friendly.

Additionally, creatine supplements can contain other ingredients as creatine is a common additive in pre-workout products. If you are looking for a creatine powder that is vegan-friendly, be sure to choose one that doesn’t include additional additives and is in powder or tablet form.

You can find vegan-friendly options by searching supplement labels for the Certified Vegan logo. 

This logo can only appear on supplements that are proven to be free of animal products. This certification also ensures that the product has not been used in animal testing [7].

Is Creatine Monohydrate Powder Vegan?

Creatine monohydrate is vegan-friendly as well as other manufactured creatine forms. 

The only non-vegan friendly form of creatine is what comes directly from animal sources in the diet, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy. 

What are the Health Benefits of Creatine?

Creatine can help increase the available energy in your muscle tissue to allow for improved performance during high-intensity exercise. If you have more energy stored in your muscle tissue, you can do more for longer. This is why creatine has become such a popular performance supplement among athletes and laypersons alike. 

Creatine may also be beneficial in increasing muscle mass through several different pathways. When our exercise performance is improved, we get more out of our workouts leading to better muscle gains. Creatine may also help to stimulate the hormone insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) which promotes muscle synthesis [8].

Those taking supplemental creatine may also notice increased muscle tone as creatine pulls additional water into the muscle tissue, increasing volume and size. This is temporary however, and will decrease once creatine is no longer supplemented [9].

Creatine supplementation may provide additional health benefits outside of exercise, including supporting brain health and reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and other neurological disease; however, studies on this in human trials are limited [10, 11, 12, 13].

How Much Creatine Per Day?

The average recommended dose of creatine is 3-5 grams per day. However, larger doses are needed in those looking to complete a loading phase. 

This is when you maximize your muscle phosphocreatine stores by consuming 20-25 grams of creatine (5 grams spread throughout the day for optimal absorption) for 5-7 days and then reduce to a maintenance dose of 3-5 grams per day [14].

Should Vegans Take Creatine?

Because creatine is vegan-friendly, whether or not a person who follows a vegan diet should take creatine will depend more on their health and fitness goals. It is not necessary to take creatine in order to gain muscle or see improvements in performance however, it can be a helpful tool. 

Creatine is one of the most well-studied athletic performance supplements on the market and is considered safe for most healthy adults to take.

Bottom Line

Creatine is a popular athletic supplement well-known for its ability to improve exercise performance, increase muscle mass, and improve post-workout recovery.

While creatine comes from animal products, commercial production of creatine supplements synthesizes creatine from non-animal sources, making it a vegan and vegetarian-friendly choice. 

Regardless of if you are following a vegan diet or not, it’s important to choose dietary supplements from trusted brands that offer third-party testing and full transparency of their ingredients. Always speak with your doctor or healthcare provider before adding a supplement to your routine.