Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss? Myths and Facts

Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss? Myths and Facts - Lucid™

Creatine is one of the most well-researched human supplements, with over 700 reviews supporting its potential benefits for enhancing performance, muscle gain, cognition, and more. But, that doesn't mean it comes without drawbacks–one being its alleged link to hair loss. In this article, we'll delve into the myths and facts surrounding the question: Does creatine cause hair loss?

Luckily, there's likely no reason to worry. Here are the facts:

Key Takeaways

One limited trial once linked creatine to increased levels of DHT, a hormone that causes hair loss.

The trial has since been discredited, and numerous trials have since disproven the claim.

While creatine doesn’t cause hair loss, there are some potential side effects to be aware of.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in the body, primarily in muscle cells, where it plays a crucial role in energy production during high-intensity activities like weightlifting and sprinting.

Our body makes about half of its creatine naturally. Creatine can also be obtained through dietary sources such as meat and fish. However, creatine supplementation has been linked to a wide range of benefits that make it appealing to athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and those looking for cognitive support.

For instance, creatine supplementation may:

  • Enhance muscle strength and power during high-intensity activities (2021 )

  • Increase muscle mass and hypertrophy ( 2022 )

  • Improve exercise performance, especially in short-duration, high-intensity activities like weightlifting and sprinting ( 2012 )

  • Accelerate post-exercise recovery, reducing muscle soreness and fatigue ( 2024 )

  • Enhance brain function and cognitive performance, particularly in tasks requiring short-term memory and decision-making ( 2023 )

  • Provide potential protective effects against neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, although further research is needed to confirm these benefits ( 2014 )

  • Improve hydration status due to creatine's ability to increase water retention in muscle cells, which may benefit overall athletic performance and exercise endurance ( 2012 )

The question is, with all of these benefits at the ready, do we have to worry about hair loss when taking creatine supplements? Luckily, hair loss from creatine supplements is not a real risk.

Let's debunk this claim:

The Myth: Creatine Causes Hair Loss

While it's essential to acknowledge concerns regarding creatine supplementation and its potential effects on hair health, it's equally crucial to dispel myths and provide accurate information. The myth that creatine causes hair loss has persisted, despite the severe lack of scientific evidence supporting it.

Why? Some people believe that excess creatine may transform into DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a hormone linked to male pattern baldness. However, modern evidence does not support this link.

Take a look:

Scientific Studies on Creatine and Hair Loss

To date, numerous scientific studies have examined the relationship between creatine supplementation and hair loss.

While some early studies suggested a potential link between creatine use and increased levels of DHT, modern evidence has debunked the claim.

For instance, a small 2009 study suggested a connection between creatine supplementation and increased dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels. 

The study involved college age male rugby players who used creatine to supplement before intense physical exercise. Ultimately, the study found that the men experienced a small uptick in DHT levels over time, but subsequent research has failed to replicate these findings.

Furthermore, the original study has been retracted due to several flaws. For instance:

  • The trial had a small sample size of only 20 people, with only 16 completing the study.

  • The study didn't measure free testosterone, the hormone used to naturally make DHT.

  • Although an increase in DHT was found, overall DHT levels and the DHT to testosterone ratio stayed within normal limits, suggesting no negative impact from creatine.

  • Intense exercise can increase hormone levels, within these normal ranges, on its own.

As of early 2021, twelve additional studies investigating the impact of creatine supplementation on testosterone levels failed to reproduce the findings of the 2009 study.

While two studies ( 2011 , 2015 ) observed slight rises in total testosterone levels after six and seven days of creatine supplementation, these increases were deemed physiologically negligible. 

Conversely, the remaining ten studies reported no changes in overall testosterone concentrations. Furthermore, five of these studies ( 2003 , 2006 , 2010 , 2014 , 2022 ) found no increases in free testosterone levels.

Importantly, no study has documented hair loss in individuals using creatine supplements. Therefore, research does not support a link between taking creatine and hair loss or baldness in people.

Other Creatine Drawbacks and Side Effects

Although creatine supplementation is generally considered safe and does not lead to hair loss, there are several potential side effects and drawbacks to be aware of. While these side effects are typically mild and temporary, it's essential to understand them before starting a creatine regimen.

  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Some individuals may experience gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea, diarrhea, or stomach cramps, when taking creatine supplements, especially in high doses or when not adequately diluted in water.

  • Muscle Cramps: Muscle cramps are another common side effect reported by some users of creatine supplements. These cramps are typically mild and transient but can be uncomfortable for some individuals.

  • Dehydration: Creatine supplementation may increase water retention within muscle cells, leading to dehydration if fluid intake is not sufficient. It's crucial to stay hydrated when using creatine to prevent dehydration-related side effects such as headaches or dizziness.

  • Weight Gain : Due to its water-retaining properties, creatine supplementation may lead to temporary weight gain, primarily from increased water retention in muscle tissue. This weight gain is typically minor and not associated with fat accumulation.

  • Kidney Strain: While there is limited evidence to suggest that creatine supplementation may strain the kidneys, individuals with pre-existing kidney conditions should exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional before using creatine supplements.

  • Interactions with Medications: Creatine supplements may interact with certain medications or health conditions. Individuals taking medications for kidney disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure should consult with a healthcare provider before using creatine supplements.

It's essential to note that many individuals tolerate creatine supplements well and experience minimal side effects, if any.

However, it's always advisable to start with a low dose and monitor for any adverse reactions, especially when first introducing creatine into your supplement routine. If you experience persistent or severe side effects, discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional.

Understand Hair Loss Causes–Its Not Creatine

Hair loss, or alopecia, can occur for various reasons, including genetic predisposition, hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, medical conditions, and certain medications. It's a multifaceted issue that often requires a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment.

When exploring the causes of hair loss, it's crucial to recognize that creatine supplementation alone is unlikely to be the primary culprit. Instead, a combination of various factors may contribute to hair loss. Here are some key factors to consider:

Genetic Predisposition:

Genetic factors play a significant role in determining an individual's susceptibility to hair loss. Conditions such as androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male or female pattern baldness, are hereditary and can lead to progressive hair thinning or baldness over time.

Hormonal Imbalances:

Hormonal imbalances, particularly fluctuations in androgen hormones such as dihydrotestosterone (DHT), can influence hair growth cycles and contribute to hair loss. Conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid disorders may disrupt hormonal balance and exacerbate hair loss.

Nutritional Deficiencies:

Inadequate intake of essential nutrients, such as iron or protein, can impact hair health and contribute to hair loss. Iron deficiency anemia, in particular, disrupts the normal growth cycle of hair follicles and can lead to excessive shedding.

Underlying Health Conditions:

Certain medical conditions and treatments may also contribute to hair loss. These include autoimmune diseases like alopecia areata, scalp infections, and chronic illnesses such as lupus or diabetes. Additionally, undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer treatment can result in temporary or permanent hair loss.

Stress and Anxiety:

Psychological stress and emotional turmoil can manifest physically and affect hair health. Conditions like telogen effluvium, characterized by excessive shedding due to stress, can lead to temporary hair loss. Chronic stress may also exacerbate underlying hair loss conditions and hinder hair regrowth.

Scalp Health:

Poor scalp health, characterized by conditions like dandruff, psoriasis, or seborrheic dermatitis, can compromise hair follicle function and impede hair growth. Maintaining a clean and healthy scalp environment is essential for promoting optimal hair health.

By considering these various factors in conjunction with creatine supplementation, individuals can better understand the complex nature of hair loss and take proactive steps to address any underlying causes. It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized evaluation and guidance regarding hair loss treatment and management.

Conclusion: Does Creatine Cause Baldness?

Simply put, there's no conclusive evidence that links creatine supplementation to hair loss. Preliminary evidence that shows a possible link between creatine and increased DHT levels (a hormone related to hair loss) has been discredited due to small sample size and improper hormone measurements.

For now, it's safe to say that creatine will not cause your hair to fall out–and it may have many benefits for your daily wellness regimen.

To learn more about creatine, you may want to read:

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  1. “Skill execution and sleep deprivation: effects of acute caffeine or creatine supplementation - a randomized placebo-controlled trial”

  2. “Creatine supplementation post-exercise does not enhance training-induced adaptations in middle to older aged males”


  4. “Effect of Creatine and ß-Alanine Supplementation on Performance and Endocrine Responses in Strength/Power Athletes”

  5. “The effects of creatine supplementation on muscular performance and body composition responses to short-term resistance training overreaching”

  6. “Effects of short term creatine supplementation and resistance exercises on resting hormonal and cardiovascular responses”

  7. “Three weeks of creatine monohydrate supplementation affects dihydrotestosterone to testosterone ratio in college-aged rugby players”

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