30 November 2023 / 8 minutes read /
Creatine is considered a popular nutritional and sports supplement among athletes. It is known to enhance athletic performance, help with early recovery from injuries, prevent sports injuries, and increase exercise tolerance as evident from research. While creatine can give men strong muscles and make them appear more masculine, this is not all creatine is famous for. Some certain questions and misconceptions come up while talking about creatine. One of those questions that cause alarm in people who use this supplement is, "does creatine cause hair loss?"
In this article, we will try to debunk this myth regarding creatine considering the latest available scientific evidence. So, keep reading.
Creatine is a source of energy mainly stored in the skeletal muscles in the form of phosphocreatine. Creatine is responsible for producing energy when we perform any physical activity by facilitating the breakdown and recycling of the Adenose Triphosphate (ATP). This action makes creatine a popular supplement for muscle development and performance enhancement, especially among athletes.
Creatine is produced by the liver and kidneys, and you can also get it through different foods like red meat, milk, and seafood. This is why people on a vegetarian diet have relatively low creatine levels.
##Creatine Side Effects
Creatine can also produce a few side effects, as shown by various studies. Creatine side effects can include water retention, renal dysfunction, and liver complications.
Common side effects that are usually associated with creatine include the following:
Water retention is one of the most common side effects of creatine supplementation. Evidence suggests that creatine can cause water retention when used for a short period, but no changes in intercellular and extracellular water were seen over more extended periods.
Creatine supplementation is usually considered safe if used as prescribed by the physician. However, if you have kidney disease or you are taking a creatine dosage is higher than the recommended amount, it can lead to renal dysfunction.
A few studies claim that creatine can cause dehydration and muscle cramping due to its osmotic qualities. But clinical research is not adequate to support this myth.
It is a well-supported fact that creatine causes an increase in lean muscle mass, but available research does not show that creatine supplementation can increase fat mass.
Creatine is usually considered safe in healthy adults and children if used as advised by the physician.
Apart from the above-mentioned side effects, does creatine cause hair loss too? Before getting into the scientific jargon, let’s first briefly discuss the mechanism behind hair loss to better understand the creatine effects on hair.
Excessive Dihydrotestosterone or DHT production is the main culprit behind hair loss and baldness in men. DHT is an androgen formed by converting testosterone with the help of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. When DHT levels exceed the normal limits, they progressively cause the miniaturisation of hair follicles resulting in hair loss and eventually baldness.
People who claim that creatine can result in hair loss believe that creatine can increase DHT levels. According to a small study conducted on rugby players, creatine loading caused a 56% increase in DHT levels. This period was followed by 14 days of maintenance dosage, after which the DHT levels remained 40% above the baseline. This study only monitored the DHT levels and did not assess the effect of creatine on hair loss. This is the only study that indirectly suggests the partial involvement of creatine in hair loss.
Hair loss is commonly listed among the creatine side effects. But there needs to be more evidence to establish the link between creatine and hair loss. Many researchers have studied the effects of creatine on the endocrine system, including testosterone and DHT, which can be responsible for hair loss.
According to a 2009 study, creatine supplementation can boost performance and increase lean body mass in male athletes, along with resistance training. But this enhanced performance is not caused by changes in the androgens or sex hormones. This study concluded that creatine monohydrate supplementation resulted in a decrease in testosterone and free androgens.
Only one study showed increased DHT levels after taking creatine supplementation, and that is all. This study was small and limited and only observed the effect of creatine on DHT levels, and it did not conclude that creatine can cause hair loss. In addition, the amount of creatine used in this study were huge. More extensive research is needed to get a clear answer on whether creatine can cause hair loss or not.
Creatine can influence DHT levels, which can potentially lead to hair fall, but the evidence supporting this theory is weak. One study concluded that creatine could cause a rise in DHT levels but did not mention hair loss or baldness. There is a need for extensive research to establish a clear link between creatine and hair loss.
While raised DHT levels are among the leading causes of hair loss, it is not the only reason. Hair fall can be caused by an array of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a relevant healthcare provider to diagnose the root cause of your hair loss before getting to any conclusion.
The available evidence does not suggest that creatine can cause hair loss or baldness. There is also not enough evidence to claim that creatine can cause an increase in testosterone or DHT levels.
According to different studies, creatine can increase energy levels, improve muscle mass, boost performance, and even enhance brain function. But currently, there is no evidence that creatine plays a part in hair health.
Although you might have heard someone saying that they started losing hair after using a creatine supplement or their hair started to grow back after they stopped taking creatine supplements, there is no evidence to prove such claims.