Creatine is a popular nutritional and sports supplement. You may have read that using creatine can lead to hair loss. But is this true?
Keep reading to learn more about creatine, its benefits and side effects, and what the research says about its connection to hair loss.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is one of the most widely researched bodybuilding supplements. It’s naturally found in animal products like red meat but can be purchased at nearly any big box or supplement store.
Numerous studies have linked creatine to increased strength, muscle and athletic performance, as well as improved recovery post-workout.
There are several varieties of creatine on the market, but creatine monohydrate is the least expensive and considered just as, if not more effective, than the others.
Is There Any Research to Prove That Creatine Causes Hair Loss?
A 2009 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine was the only piece of scientific literature potentially linking creatine to hair loss.
The study only followed 20 rugby players for three weeks as they supplemented with creatine. Those who took creatine in the study took a whopping 25 grammes per day (5 grammes is the typical recommendation).
The researchers discovered that creatine may increase testosterone conversion to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is thought to be the hormone responsible for male pattern baldness in men who are genetically predisposed to hair loss.
This study did not prove or even suggest that creatine causes hair loss. Not only did the study not mention hair loss, but it was also extremely small and restricted to a very short time frame.
The single study linking creatine and DHT had flaws, including its small size and the excessive amount of creatine the participants were taking. Furthermore, no mention of hair loss is made in the study.
Why Does the Creatine and Hair Loss Myth Persist?
The hair-loss myth is based on a single study conducted in South Africa in 2009, in which a group of college-aged rugby players took creatine every day for three weeks. The study found a "statistically significant" increase in the participants' levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a testosterone byproduct that can shrink hair follicles, shorten the hair growth cycle, and cause hair to thin in high concentrations.
However, none of the study's rugby players experienced hair loss due to taking the supplement, according to an expert who, along with an internationally renowned team of researchers, reviewed the most common creatine misconceptions for the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. What's more, the people in the study who received the creatine started out with baseline DHT levels 23% lower than the placebo group, and their measured increase in DHT "remained well within normal clinical limits.
Twelve other clinical trials have investigated the effects of creatine supplements on testosterone, but none have yet replicated the South African study's findings. Nonetheless, the study made its way to social media, giving birth to the creatine-causes-hair-loss rumour.
When to See a Doctor
As previously stated, creatine supplementation does not cause hair loss. However, if you are experiencing hair loss, you should consult your doctor.
You should also see a doctor if you have sudden, patchy hair loss or if you lose a lot of hair when brushing or washing your hair.
Many causes of hair loss can be controlled. Your doctor will collaborate with you to determine the cause of your hair loss and recommend the best treatment for you.
Creatine is popular dietary supplement athletes and bodybuilders use to increase muscle strength and size. However, there have been concerns that creatine may cause hair loss. Studies have shown that creatine does not cause hair loss. In fact, some studies have even suggested that creatine may have a positive effect on hair growth.
It is important to note that hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors, such as genetics, hormonal imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies. Therefore, if you are experiencing hair loss, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause. In summary, creatine does not cause hair loss, and it may even have a beneficial effect on hair growth.
Van der Merwe, September 2009; Three Weeks of Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation Affects Dihydrotestosterone to Testosterone Ratio in College-Aged Rugby Players - https://journals.lww.com/cjsportsmed/Abstract/2009/09000/Three_Weeks_of_Creatine_Monohydrate.9.aspx
B K Schilling, February 2001; Creatine supplementation and health variables: a retrospective study - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11224803/