Creatine, as a health supplement, is popular in the fitness world. It is a performance-enhancing product that gives an athlete an instant boost of energy. However, some believe that creatine may cause hair loss. Here, we will take an in-depth look into creatine to understand its association with hair health.
Table Of Contents
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a molecule produced by amino acids. It is primarily found in the muscles and brain. The molecule aids the different chemical processes in our body, including providing energy for muscle contractions. It is formulated in the liver, kidney, and pancreas and is stored in the body’s muscles. The creatine in the muscles helps boost strength and energy for our daily activities (1).
Its performance-enhancing benefits have made creatine a favorite amongst sports professionals and athletes as a health supplement. It provides energy and strength for activities like high-intensity training, weight lifting, and running. Creatine supplements are also believed to help increase recovery time after exercise.
The supplement is safe for use for those with medications. However, those with underlying kidney problems should avoid creatine as it may cause or aggravate kidney damage (2).
Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?
No scientific studies state that creatine causes hair loss. Most of the available evidence is purely anecdotal.
However, a 2009 study done on college rugby players showed an increase in the levels of a hormone (DHT, or dihydrotestosterone) after 3 weeks of creatine supplementation (3).
How does DHT factor into this context? Is it associated with hair loss? Let us explore in the following section.
How Does DHT Relate To Hair Loss?
DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, is a hormone responsible for developing androgenic characteristics in men (4). DHT helps in the development of traits like deep voice, body hair, and increased muscle mass and bone strength.
Increased levels of DHT in the body may cause hair loss if you have a genetic tendency towards baldness. The excess DHT in the body can freely flow through your bloodstream and link to the receptors in the scalp. Excess levels of DHT may lead to the miniaturization of the hair follicles and lead to hair loss. DHT imbalance in men could also cause androgenic alopecia (5)
Does The Hair Grow Back?
Regular intake of creatine may cause an imbalance of DHT in the body (3). Hair, once lost, may not grow back without a proper hair regrowth treatment.
Though studies are limited, creatine seems to indirectly cause hair loss. The hair loss is especially pronounced in those sensitive to DHT and have a genetic tendency towards hair loss. But how can you prevent the same?
How To Prevent Hair Loss Due To Creatine
Regular creatine intake, as we saw, could lead to DHT imbalance. This can cause the hair to become weak and prone to breakage. The best way to prevent this is by reducing your creatine intake.
Additionally, you can also massage your scalp regularly to boost blood circulation. Adequate rest also helps in this regard. Consult a dermatologist to identify the root cause. Your doctor may prescribe topical applications like peptides or minoxidil. Increasing the dietary intake of protein, minerals, and amino acids can also help.
If you smoke, you may want to quit that habit as well.
When To Consult A Doctor
Consult a doctor if you are experiencing severe hair loss for any reason. Conditions like a sudden loss of a large amount of hair or patchy hair loss require immediate medical attention.
Apart from causing potential hair loss, creatine has other possible adverse effects.
Side Effects Of Creatine
- Weight Gain: Various studies have shown that oral intake of creatine can cause water retention in the body, resulting in temporary weight gain (6), (7). This water retention may interfere with an athlete’s ability to swim or run. Further, it may also lead to the dangers of dehydration in the body.
- Kidney Damage: Those with pre-existing kidney issues may have a risk of kidney dysfunction with the use of creatine supplements (2).
- Parkinson’s Disease: Research shows that intake of creatine along with caffeine results in a rapid progression of Parkinson’s disease (8). Hence, those at risk of Parkinson’s disease should refrain from taking caffeine and creatine together. They also are recommended to consult their doctor before taking creatine or caffeine.
A direct link between creatine and hair loss is lacking. But should you experience hair fall as you start taking creatine, you may want to discontinue it – at least temporarily. Consult your doctor, especially so if you have any underlying medical condition.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
Does creatine monohydrate or creatine hydrochloride cause hair loss?
There is no research proving that creatine monohydrate or creatine hydrochloride causes hair loss. But should you experience hair loss with any of the supplements, stop use, and consult your doctor.
- Creatine and creatinine metabolism
- Potential Adverse Effects of Creatine Supplement on the Kidney in Athletes and Bodybuilders
- Three weeks of creatine monohydrate supplementation affects dihydrotestosterone to testosterone ratio in college-aged rugby players
- The backdoor pathway to dihydrotestosterone
- Cause of Androgenic Alopecia: Crux of the Matter
- Potential side effects of oral creatine supplementation: a critical review.
- Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Exercise Performance
- Caffeine and progression of Parkinson’s disease: A deleterious interaction with creatine