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Creatine and hair loss: How does this bodybuilding supplement impact your hair?

Learn the link between creatine and hair loss.

Written by
Bailey Petts
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
August 10, 2023
min read
Creatine and hair loss: How does this bodybuilding supplement impact your hair?
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If you're into the world of fitness supplements, chances are you've heard of creatine. Creatine is a popular sports supplement that is commonly used for muscle mass and workout recovery, helping to boost your body's recovery time after a hard gym session.

But, despite the popularity of creatine, what's the connection between creatine supplementation and hair? Can creatine cause hair loss? Here's everything you need to know about those rumours.

What is creatine?

Creatine, also known as creatine monohydrate, is a chemical found naturally in the human body; specifically, in your muscle cells. It increases muscle mass and brain function, while also decreasing blood sugar levels.

It's mainly used for sports performance and to improve your recovery time. And, while it's commonly consumed in supplement form, creatine can also be found in red meat and seafood.

How is it consumed and how often?

Creatine supplements come in both pill and powder form, so you can choose which one you prefer. And, while you can get a healthy dose of creatine from what you eat, taking creatine supplements can make sure you're maximising your creatine stores [1].

The amount of creatine you consume will depend on your personal fitness journey but there is something known as a creatine loading phase that many people try.

This involves consuming a large quantity of creatine in a short amount of time to load up your muscle stores. For example, if your creatine stores are at 60 per cent just through food consumption, creatine supplementation can help boost these stores in a short amount of time.

You can maintain these stores with supplements through a daily dose of two to 10 grams of creatine per day [2].

With any new addition to your diet, it's recommended that you consult your doctor.

Adding a dietary supplement into your daily routine can be helpful but it's important to receive personalised advice from a healthcare professional before making any drastic changes.

What is creatine commonly used for?

People commonly take creatine supplements before working out as it can provide quick bursts of energy and help with increased strength and performance [3]. Creatine supplementation can also help with muscle recovery following a strenuous workout and is used by both professional athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

What are the side effects of creatine?

The good news is that taking creatine is considered to be pretty safe. There's minimal evidence to state otherwise, but it's good to be aware of the potential side effects of creatine [3].

Some side effects of creatine can include:

  • Weight gain (this might be due to water retention)
  • Bloating
  • Dehydration
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver damage
  • Muscle cramping
  • Hair thinning (don't worry, we get to the bottom of this)

It's best to consult with a medical professional before introducing anything new to your daily routine and monitor for any adverse effects of creatine if you start using it.

Can creatine cause hair loss?

Here's what we know about the creatine hair loss reports. There has been some anecdotal evidence that creatine has been linked to hair loss, but the current body of evidence disagrees with this [4].

A piece of anecdotal evidence comes from a 2009 study of college-aged rugby players [5]. The players engaged in three weeks of creatine supplementation, which was broken down into seven days of creatine loading and 14 days of a creatine maintenance dose.

While the serum testosterone levels of the players did not change, researchers did find that DHT had increased by 56 per cent after the seven days of creatine loading and remained 40 per cent above baseline after the two weeks of maintenance.

The testosterone ratio to DHT also increased by 36 per cent after seven days and remained elevated by 22 per cent after the maintenance period.

Up to 10 per cent of testosterone is converted by the body into DHT (dihydrotestosterone) — a male sex hormone. Men can run into issues when there are elevated levels of testosterone, this is converted into DHT, which increased the levels of DHT within the body.

DHT is troublesome for hair as it can cause follicular miniaturisation, which means the hair follicle is restricted and makes it hard for hair to grow. It can also cause the shaft of the hair to become more fragile and lead to hair loss.

So, when the DHT levels of the players increased substantially after three weeks of consuming creatine supplements, it could possibly point to an increase in hair thinning and loss.

But, it's important to note that this study didn't touch on any hair loss experienced by the rugby players, it merely pointed to the increase in DHT levels, so it isn't providing any concrete proof that creatine causes hair loss.

As a result, more research and clinical trials are needed in this area to properly establish a link between creatine and hair loss.

What are the other common causes of hair loss?

Hair loss is an incredibly common experience for men, with around half of the men in the world dealing with hair loss by the age of 50. What's even more staggering is that roughly 25 per cent of men who experience hair loss first start to notice it before the age of 21 [6].

With this in mind, it can help to have an understanding of the most common causes of hair loss. These include:

  • Genetics
  • Medications
  • Stress
  • Radiation therapy
  • Genetic condition of alopecia
  • Nutritional deficiencies [7].

Tying up your hair can also be a factor in hair loss! Tight hairstyles that repeatedly pull on your hair follicles can cause hair loss for some people. Looking after your follicles and keeping them happy is important for the health of your hair.

One way to do this is through Pilot's Hair Growth Shampoo & Conditioner, which is designed to support thicken your locks and keep them healthy. Plus, men who treat hair loss early have a better chance of keeping and regrowing their hair.

What's the relationship between creatine and DHT?

As we mentioned earlier, DHT can affect your hair growth and even cause hair loss as it can damage the follicles. Hair follicles go through their own life cycle and DHT can attach to a hormone receptor in your hair follicles.

This can affect your hair growth cycles and can cause more hair to fall out, and not be replaced.

While some preliminary research has shown that creatine can increase DHT levels in some people, further research is required to fully establish this connection [8].

Is creatine-induced hair loss reversible?

While it has not been confirmed that creatine causes hair loss, if you do experience sudden hair loss when you begin taking creatine supplements, it's best to stop right away and be sure to chat with your doctor as soon as possible.

Treating hair loss with science

The good news is that it doesn't seem like you need to choose between your hair and your muscle mass when it comes to creatine supplementation. And, if you are experiencing hair loss that is unrelated to creatine, know that there are clinically proven hair loss treatment options available.

Pilot's personalised hair loss treatments are formulated based on the needs of each individual person and can help you keep and regrow your hair.

Plus, men who treat hair loss in the early stages are more likely to prevent further balding and have a better chance of hair regrowth. With Pilot's personalised treatments, 83 percent of people keep their hair and 66 per cent regrow their hair [9][10].

Take an online consultation and our Aussie practitioners can formulate a treatment for you based on your individual needs. We're here to help.

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