Creatine is a fantastic supplement if you want to build muscle mass while getting stronger.
There's a rumor going around, though… does creatine cause hair loss?
It’s a question that plagues bodybuilding forums all over the internet and can leave you pulling your hair out (excuse the pun) trying to figure out if it’s worth taking or not.
In this article, I’ll be discussing whether creatine does cause hair loss, providing you with the answer you’ve been looking for.
- Can Creatine Cause Hair Loss? (What The Research Says)
- Why The Creatine-And-Hair-Loss Myth Exists
- Relationship Between Creatine & Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
- Other Potential Causes Of Hair Loss (How You Can Prevent It)
- Possible Side Effects Of Creatine: When To See A Doctor
- Frequently Asked Creatine And Hair Loss Questions
Can Creatine Cause Hair Loss? (What The Research Says)
Firstly, don’t believe the rumors online. There hasn’t been any clear-cut scientific evidence that creatine causes hair loss in either males or females.
Sure, there has been a loose study performed in 2009 (which I'll cover in detail in the next section), but this research provided a weak link between creatine and hair loss and required more research to make any concrete claims.
While there aren't any clinical studies linking creatine with hair loss, there have been some personal observations made by creatine takers who suspect their hair loss is because of creatine.
If you begin taking creatine and start seeing symptoms of hair loss or androgenetic alopecia, stop taking the supplement, and you should see your hair growth return to normal within a few months.
Your hair will only return if your hair loss is linked to creatine increasing your androgenic hormones. If it’s a genetic issue you’ve got, stopping creatine won’t make your hair grow back to normal, you’d be best-seeking treatment from your doctor.
If you're in good health, there shouldn't be any reason why creatine would cause hair loss, and any rumors you've seen online are unfounded.
Why The Creatine-And-Hair-Loss Myth Exists
In 2009 a study (referenced above) on a South African college rugby team analyzed the effects of the creatine loading phase over the course of 21 days (3 weeks). The participants used creatine monohydrate throughout the study.
The study’s data concluded that there was a significant increase of DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) in the participants during the creatine supplement regimen, which can cause shortened hair growth cycles, leading to hair thinning.
This indicated that the subjects would be more likely to suffer male pattern baldness, as their hair follicles would be losing more hair than is being made.
However, it should be noted that none of the rugby players experienced any hair loss while taking the supplement, so it’s difficult to state that creatine supplementation will promote hair loss.
Plus, I need to note that the researchers involved in the 2009 study didn’t really assess hair loss during the study.
What's more, the participants who took creatine had DHT levels 23% lower than the placebo group, and the creatine raised their DHT to regular levels well within the baseline.
In other words, the creatine supplementation brought their DHT levels within the normal clinical limits (where they should have been, to begin with).
This one study has been the reason creatine supplements have been linked to hair loss, and it’s stuck around.
The study has been replicated in 12 clinical trials, and so far, none of them has managed to replicate the findings from the 2009 South African study.
As we live in the time of social media, though, the creatine and losing hair rumor was blown out of proportion, leading to the bad wrap creatine supplements get when it comes to hair loss.
If you’ve got healthy hair, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the benefits of taking creatine, as it’s got no legitimate link to male pattern hair loss.
To back up my claim, here’s what a 2021 paper on the side effects of taking creatine supplements had to say,
“In summary, the current body of evidence does not indicate that creatine supplementation increases total testosterone, free testosterone, DHT or causes hair loss/baldness.”
Relationship Between Creatine & Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
What Is Creatine?
Creatine supplementation is one of the best-known and most-researched dietary supplements on the planet. So what is it?
Creatine is a natural supplement that’s an essential source of energy for the cells in your body and is one of the main amino acids needed for muscle growth.
It’s a naturally occurring compound the human body creates in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. Additionally, you can get creatine through your diet by consuming foods such as red meat and fish.
Once ingested, creatine is stored in the skeletal muscles as phosphocreatine, which can be used during physical activity to provide energy for muscle contractions in the form of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate).
By taking a creatine supplement, you can increase the creatine levels in your muscle cells. This increased availability of creatine in each muscle cell can lead to an increase in lean muscle mass, improved athletic performance, muscle strength, and brain function.
It’s why many athletes and bodybuilders take creatine supplements to enhance their physical performance and to develop a larger amount of skeletal muscle.
I love using creatine as it increases my exercise performance and is one of the staples in my sports nutrition regime. I’ve consistently taken the sports supplement daily for over 7 years (with the odd missed day) and haven’t experienced hair loss issues.
Although this is purely anecdotal evidence on my part, whether my testosterone levels and DHT increased is unknown without further evidence to determine creatine’s effect on me.
I’ve used creatine for bodybuilding training, powerlifting, and high-intensity exercise. It’s fantastic for all forms of training.
Creatine has also been used to help treat Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and traumatic brain injury.
Creatine supplements are available in various forms, including powders, liquids, and tablets. I’m a big fan of the powder version of the dietary supplement as it makes taking creatine easy.
They can be easily incorporated into your daily routine and are readily available for purchase. However, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any kind of supplement to ensure that it is safe for you to use.
Related Article - Creapure Vs Creatine: Which One Is Best For Muscle Building?
What Is Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)?
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen, a sex hormone that plays a key role in the development of male characteristics such as facial and body hair and helps you develop muscle mass.
It's a metabolite of testosterone and is several times more potent than testosterone. Your body converts testosterone to DHT, using enzymes to do so.
By converting testosterone, it's one of the main hormones responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics during puberty. And has a significant impact on muscle mass.
High DHT hormone levels are also linked to the development of male pattern baldness. The DHT binds to the hair follicles on the scalp, slowing down the hair growth phase.
As hair production is slowed, you lose hair faster than the new hair grows, resulting in overall hair loss on your scalp.
Other Potential Causes Of Hair Loss (How You Can Prevent It)
Hair loss is natural; it happens every day as part of your body’s hair growth cycle.
Did you know you can lose between 50-100 hairs a day? And it’s normal. But you won’t notice them as they’re replaced at the same time. Hair loss occurs when the hair fall occurs, but the replacements don’t appear, resulting in thinning hair.
There are several other causes of hair loss, such as:
Want to avoid patchy hair loss? - If preventing hair loss is your goal, there are several things you can start doing today to help your hair follicles hold on to your hair.
- Take vitamins - Vitamins A, B, and E help your scalp produce a healthier environment with better blood circulation for you to regrow hair.
- Regularly wash your hair with mild shampoo - Keeping your scalp clean lowers the risk of dandruff and infections, which can cause hair loss.
- Eat a high-protein diet - Eating plenty of protein gives your hair the building blocks it needs to grow healthily.
- De-stress - Stress can increase your hair loss.
- Stay hydrated - Dehydration isn’t good for your hair; drink more water.
- Reduce alcohol intake - Alcohol reduces your hair growth; it’s the last thing you want.
Possible Side Effects Of Creatine: When To See A Doctor
As creatine is one of the most studied supplements around, but there are some side effects you should be aware of:
Creatine can cause water retention, leading to weight gain.
As creatine pulls water into your muscles, it's different from other types of water retention, which usually means water is around your muscles (making you look bloated).
This side effect should disperse over time, leaving your muscles looking fuller with improved muscle function.
There has been some noted muscle cramping in the past, but a 2003 study found creatine isn’t the cause.
If you’re concerned about fluid retention, always consult your doctor.
Related Article - Does Creatine Make You Bloated? (Expert Tips To Avoid It)
There are often concerns that creatine levels are high, which could result in kidney damage. This concern was debunked when a 2018 study concluded that creatine consumed sensibly didn’t have any negative effects on kidney function in healthy individuals.
If you have any kidney issues (like kidney disease), you might want to avoid taking creatine. Speak to your doctor if you've got any overall health issues.
Frequently Asked Creatine And Hair Loss Questions
There are several dietary supplements that have been linked to causing hair loss in both males and females. However, this unwanted side effect is usually due to the overconsumption of certain vitamins and minerals. Researchers found other supplements (vitamins and minerals) that are linked to balding are Selenium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E. Still, if you've got a healthy diet and take these supplements in moderation, you shouldn't have any unwanted side effects like hair loss. Always talk to your doctor if you're thinking of adding a new item to your supplementation stack.
Overall, creatine is a safe supplement to add to your supplementation routine. While the 2009 study mentioned earlier shows creatine increases DHT, leading to hair loss concerns, further research is needed. The study has been replicated several times there haven’t been any further links to creatine’s effect on hair loss. As creatine could increase DHT levels in your body, if you’re balding or predisposed to baldness, you might want to talk with your doctor before any creatine is taken.
Want to increase your muscle mass and athletic performance with creatine but are worried about losing your hair?
Don’t worry; as I explained in this article, creatine should be fine for you to take so long as you’re healthy.
Read the article above to determine if creatine is the right supplement for you.