Does Creatine cause hair loss?
1st September 2023
Over recent months, Creatine, a popular pre-workout supplement, has been hitting the headlines due to its potential link with hair loss. Although not proven to cause hair loss, this nutritional and sports supplement may affect the levels of DHT, a hormone connected to hair loss.
What is Creatine?
Natural Creatine is a source of energy for your cells and is produced by your liver, pancreas and kidneys. You can also digest Creatine by eating red meat and fish. Creatine is stored in your skeletal muscles as phosphocreatine, broken down when doing physical activity to be used as energy for muscle contractions.
Creatine also comes in the form of a supplement and can be purchased as a powder, liquid, or tablet. Some people may take these supplements to improve muscle mass and athletic performance, as taking additional Creatine means that more is then available in your muscles, and those muscles may then be able to generate more energy.
Creatine and hair loss
Does Creatine increase DHT?
As with all supplements, there are always possible side effects, and one of the possible issues of taking Creatine is that it can affect the hormone DHT, the hormone that can contribute to hair loss.
DHT is a hormone that’s derived from testosterone. DHT can bind to specific hormone receptors in hair follicles, leading to briefer hair growth cycles and thinner and shorter hair. Our susceptibility to DHT is dictated by our genetic predisposition. So, if you’re affected by the DHT hormone, you will experience less hair growth and follow the androgenetic alopecia hair loss pattern.
Some research has shown that Creatine can increase DHT levels in men. One American study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19741313/ gave a Creatine supplement to college-aged rugby players over a period of three weeks and calculated their DHT to testosterone ratio. The study concluded that levels of DHT increased by 56% after a week of taking the supplements and remained 40% above the baseline after 14 days. It is important to note that although using Creatine can affect the level of DHT, the study did not assess any hair loss in participants.
Is there specific evidence that Creatine is a cause of hair loss?
In short, no specific evidence shows that Creatine is a cause of hair loss; only evidence that it can increase DHT in some people (DHT being the hormone which can cause hair loss). Ultimately, a limited amount of research links Creatine to hair loss.
How to stop hair loss if you think you’re affected by taking Creatine
Some people may feel that they have experienced hair loss after taking Creatine. If you are experiencing hair loss due to taking the supplement, hair shedding would likely start two months after initially taking it. If you believe your hair loss is due to taking the additional supplements, your hair should grow back after stopping the course. Halting the supplement would also mean you’ll be able to see if this makes any difference to your hair loss/growth. In some cases, Creatine can be a catalyst for androgenic alopecia or other genetic conditions.
Can you prevent hair loss while taking Creatine?
As it is not scientifically proven that Creatine does cause hair loss, there isn’t a preventative. With Creatine potentially causing an increase in DHT levels in some people, it is recommended to avoid using it, especially if you are worried about hair loss in the first instance.