Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?
Updated: May 6
Creatine is a popular supplement for people who want to look and feel their best. The substance is a popular way to boost your workouts, but does creatine cause hair loss? While there are lots of anecdotes that say it does, the research is a bit more complex.
To understand the potential connection between creatine and hair loss, let's look at what creatine is (1).
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a compound naturally produced in the body. It is also found in certain foods, such as meat and fish. The body uses creatine to supply energy to cells, particularly muscle cells. Creatine works by increasing the body's ability to produce energy rapidly.
This can help improve muscle strength and endurance, especially during high-intensity activities such as weightlifting and sprinting.
Some research has also suggested that creatine may have a number of other benefits, such as improving brain function and reducing muscle damage.
This supplement is generally considered safe when taken in recommended amounts. Some people may experience side effects such as weight gain, diarrhea, or muscle cramps when taking large amounts of creatine.
Creatine and DHT
People have tried to link creatine to hair loss because of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone or DHT. This is a potent derivative of testosterone.
A small study suggested that the use of creatine increased DHT levels in some men, and those men experienced hair loss (2).
DHT has the potential to bind to hormone receptors in hair follicles, causing them to grow less hair. As a person naturally sheds hair but does not grow enough to replace the lost hair, it can seem as if they are losing a lot of hair.
While the connection between DHT and hair loss is understood, the relationship between DHT and creatine is not. Although one study showed that creatine raised DHT levels, many other studies have failed to find the same link.
Even the single study that shows this possible reaction involved subjects taking higher-than-usual doses of creatine. Overall, there is no proven direct cause-and-effect relationship between creatine and hair loss.
Using Creatine in Your Life
While you may not need to wonder if creatine causes hair loss, you may about the other effects this supplement can have. In general, creatine can support your health in a few different ways.
One of the main benefits of creatine is its ability to improve exercise performance, particularly during high-intensity activities that require short bursts of energy, such as weight lifting, sprinting, and jumping.
Creatine helps to increase the availability of energy in the muscles by increasing the production of adenosine triphosphate, the primary source of energy for muscle contractions. In addition to improving performance, creatine has also been shown to increase muscle mass and strength.
This is thought to be due to its ability to stimulate protein synthesis, the process by which the body builds new proteins.
Creatine has been shown to increase the uptake of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, into muscle cells, which can lead to increased muscle growth.
Creatine may also have many other health benefits, including reducing muscle damage and inflammation, improving brain function, and reducing the risk of certain diseases.
It has also been shown to improve memory, learning, and mental clarity and may help to protect against neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
In addition, some research suggests that creatine may have several other health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, improving bone health, and helping to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
For example, research has shown that creatine may help to reduce the risk of heart disease by improving the function of the endothelium, the inner lining of the blood vessels, and by reducing the production of reactive oxygen species, which can cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
These benefits outweigh the initial question.
There are several ways to take creatine, including powders and capsules.
The most common way to take creatine is as a powder, which can be mixed with water, juice, or a protein shake and consumed before or after a workout.
Creatine capsules are also available, which can be taken with water or another beverage. It is generally recommended to start with a loading phase when taking creatine, in which you consume a higher dose for the first week or two, followed by a maintenance phase in which you consume a lower dose (3).
During the loading phase, it is common to take 20 to 25 grams of creatine per day, divided into smaller doses throughout the day. After the loading phase, taking a maintenance dose of 3 to 5 grams per day is recommended.
The optimal dosage of creatine depends on a number of factors, including age, body weight, and activity level.
Most people will do best by following the dosage instructions provided on the product label or by talking to a doctor for guidance on the appropriate dosage.
Drinking plenty of fluids when taking creatine is also important, as it can cause the body to retain water and may lead to dehydration if enough fluids are not consumed.
Drinking at least 8 to 12 cups of water per day is generally recommended when taking creatine.
Despite the stories of people who say they suffered hair loss while using creatine, current research does not show that this is a major risk for many people.
There is a slight connection between the supplement and a hormone associated with hair loss, but not enough studies show that this needs to be a concern.
Overall, the evidence suggests that creatine is a safe and effective supplement that can provide a number of health benefits, including improved exercise performance, increased muscle mass and strength, and faster recovery from exercise.