The link between creatine and hair loss is unclear due to a lack of scientific evidence. However, certain hypotheses and research imply that creatine may indirectly affect hair loss by influencing dihydrotestosterone levels.
DHT is generated from testosterone. More potent than testosterone is DHT. How is DHT related to hair loss? Life cycle of hair follicles. A resting phase follows hair growth, then hair falls out. DHT binds to hair follicle hormone receptors. This causes shorter hair growth cycles and thinner, shorter hairs. Due to reduced hair growth, more hairs fall out than grow.
Some people are genetically predisposed to hair loss. Variations in the AR gene can increase hair follicle hormone receptor activation. In persons with hair loss, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT may be more active.
How can creatine affect hair loss? Creatine may raise testosterone levels, which the enzyme may convert into DHT. This may increase scalp DHT, which may accelerate hair loss in genetically predisposed people.
This theory has little and inconclusive evidence. In 2009, college rugby players took creatine pills for three weeks in the main study supporting this notion. The loading phase (when they received greater creatine doses) boosted their DHT levels by 50%, while the maintenance phase kept them 40% above baseline.
However, there are several limitations and flaws in this study that make it unreliable and ungeneralizable. For example:
- The 20-person trial involved no control group or placebo comparison.
- The study did not account for food, exercise, stress, or medication, which may impact DHT levels.
- The study did not measure or report participant hair quality or quantity.
- The study employed 25 grams of creatine per day during the loading phase, far higher than the 3-5 grams recommended by most experts.
- Participants were not followed up to check if their DHT levels reverted to normal after stopping creatine.
Thus, this study does not indicate creatine causes hair loss or significantly raises DHT. Several other investigations reported no effect of creatine on testosterone or DHT. Even though creatine marginally raises DHT levels, most people may not lose hair.
Should You Be Worried About Creatine and Hair Loss?
Creatine may induce hair loss, however this is unclear. The scientific evidence is insufficient and inconsistent to draw judgments. Based on the findings, creatine may not significantly affect hair loss or baldness.
However, creatine should not be taken without caution. There may be negative effects or interactions with other supplements or drugs with creatine. Creatine side effects include:
Some individuals may experience stomach discomfort, feelings of nausea, diarrhea bloating or cramps when using creatine. To minimize these side effects it is recommended to consume creatine alongside a meal and hydrate properly. Additionally starting with a dosage can also help mitigate any potential risks.
To avoid dehydration or electrolyte imbalances caused by the water drawing effect of creatine it is advisable to stay well hydrated and refrain from consuming alcohol or caffeine while using creatine.
Creatine might lead to an increase in body weight due to the rise in muscle mass and water retention. While this may not pose any issues, for individuals it could potentially impact both performance and appearance especially for those who are mindful of their weight.
Taking creatine supplements can lead to an increase in the levels of creatinine in your bloodstream. Creatinine is a byproduct that your kidneys filter out. Elevated levels of creatinine may suggest kidney impairment or decreased kidney function. It is advisable to refrain from using creatine if you have existing kidney issues or are taking medications that impact your kidney function. Regularly monitoring your kidney function through blood tests is also recommended.
Taking creatine can potentially impact the function of your liver as it leads to an increase in the levels in your blood. Ammonia, a substance, is normally converted into urea by the liver. Elevated levels of ammonia can result in liver damage or exacerbate pre existing liver conditions. To avoid this it is advisable to refrain from using creatine if you have any liver issues or if you are taking medications that affect your liver function. Additionally it is recommended to undergo blood tests to monitor the health of your liver.
Creatine is created by the body or taken from food or supplements. It is mostly stored in muscles to fuel contractions. Muscle growth, cognitive function, and athletic performance can be improved with creatine.
Creatine may potentially cause hair loss by influencing DHT levels. DHT shrinks hair follicles and causes thinning and balding in genetically predisposed people.
The link between creatine and hair loss is unclear due to a lack of scientific evidence. Based on the findings, creatine may not significantly affect hair loss or baldness.
However, creatine should not be taken without caution. There may be negative effects or interactions with other supplements or drugs with creatine. Creatine can cause gastrointestinal upset, dehydration, weight gain, renal damage, and liver damage.