As a figurehead in the supplement industry, creatine is known for its many benefits, but does creatine cause hair loss? It’s been a rumor circulating around the supplement industry that has led people to stray away from creatine monohydrate.
Whether you’re a male or a female, losing your hair is something no one wants to go through. In today’s article, we’ll discuss whether or not the research points to creatine as a hair loss contributor.
How Does Hair Loss Work?
It is reported that about 80 percent of men and about half of women experience some type of severe hair loss in their lifetime. It usually accelerates as we grow older and enter middle age, but it’s not rare to see hair loss with individuals as young as 18 years old. (1✓)
On our heads, our scalp typically holds about 100,000 to 150,000 strands of hair. We lose about 50 strands of hair daily once they each complete their growth cycle. However, we hardly notice any hairs fall out due to the abundant amount of hair we carry. (2✓)
We start dealing with hair loss once the amount of shedding outpaces the amount of growth on our heads. You begin to see bald patches, thinning hair, and larger clumps of hair falling out once you wash in the shower.
The causes of hair loss can vary, the most common coming from family heritage, stress, or hormonal changes. We’ll be focusing on hormonal changes when it comes to creatine, as studies have shown some effects in that domain.
How Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?
When it comes to research that backs up the claims of creatine causing hair loss, there really isn’t much out there. A lot of the evidence people have against creatine is through people’s testimonies or experiences, purely anecdotal.
Before clearing creatine monohydrate, there does exist one small 2009 study that raises speculation. A team of collegiate rugby players experienced hair loss after three weeks of creatine loading. (3✓)
The research showed a 56% increase in the production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone or DHT. As the name suggests, the hormone DHT is derived from testosterone, which can cause accelerated hair loss. (4✓)
As a more abrasive version of testosterone, DHT can alter the life cycles of hair follicles. DHT binds to specific hormone receptors in the follicle and can shorten hair growth cycles drastically to the point that we begin to lose hair. (4✓)
Minimal Evidence of Hair Loss
As mentioned, there’s little to no real evidence of creatine causing hair loss in individuals of any age. It’s important to note that the conductors of this study did not assess hair loss as a result of creatine loading, meaning hair loss wasn’t properly observed.
The fact of the matter is that DHT levels in these athletes did increase, and since DHT plays a factor in hair loss, hair loss with creatine is assessed that way. It’s more of a “connect-the-dots” form of saying creatine causes hair loss.
Creatine Beneath The Surface
Creatine monohydrate, or simply creatine, is a substance found in our muscle cells. The energy provided by creatine is produced when our bodies go through physically straining activities, like lifting heavy at the gym or intense intervals of exercise. (5✓)
Creatine can be absorbed by the body in the form of whole foods or in the form of supplementation. It’s most commonly found in both red meat and seafood when it comes to whole foods.
The most common use of creatine is reserved for improving exercise performance. Athletes and bodybuilders alike take higher quantities of creatine monohydrate to try to improve their performances in their respective areas. (6✓)
How Does Creatine Work?
The energy provided by creatine needs to transform first before the body is able to use it, but how does that happen? First, creatine is stored in your muscles as phosphocreatine or creatine phosphate. (7✓)
When it comes time for your body to go through high-intensity exercise, phosphocreatine shifts into gear and begins to turn into ATP, adenosine triphosphate. ATP is our body’s energy currency. It’s our highest-energy molecule. (8✓)
With more energy during your workouts, you’ll be able to do one of two things, if not both; increase your workout volume, or increase the weight on your workouts. With this, people gain more muscle through creatine indirectly, by allowing them to be able to improve the intensity of their workouts. (9✓)
As the most researched supplement in the supplement industry, creatine has gone through loads and loads of testing and experiments. We’ll be having a look at the studies conducted on creatine to see if it’s effective or totally ineffective.
4-Week Complex Training Creatine Supplementation
Researchers conducted a study on thirty explosive athletes to see whether or not creatine supplementation helped their performances. The group was split between an experimental group, the group taking the creatine, and a control group with the placebo. (10✓)
After 6 days of 20 grams-a-day supplementation, the subjects performed two maximum repetition exercises, half-squats, and plyometrics. After the training, it was apparent that the creatine group’s one-rep maxes were significantly higher than the placebo group’s.
The study had concluded that creatine supplementation combined with intense, complex training does improve overall strength while also reducing muscle damage.
Creatine Preventing Dehydration/Cramps
With the 200+ studies conducted on creatine, the misconception of creatine causing dehydration still lingers in the industry. Creatine’s water retention properties cause people to believe that it may induce dehydration or cramps during exercise in hot weather. (11✓)
However, this myth has been debunked by researchers for a while now. Recent reports now suggest that creatine actually enhances performances in hot/humid environments by reducing exercise heart rate and sweat. (12✓)
Strength Increase in Middle-Aged Men
Both creatine and protein supplements have shown promising results for young athletes and lifters, but is it the same for older individuals. It’s no question that the attributes of being young absolutely do not carry over once we get older, let alone our physiques.
To test whether or not creatine could help older individuals gain strength, a study assessed strength changes in 48-72 old men for 14 weeks. They were given a resistance training program to follow along with creatine supplementation.
The two groups, one controlled the other experiment, trained 3 days per week for the 14 weeks with the objective of progressive overload, adding more weight to the bar.
After the 14 weeks were up, the experimental group, the group of guys taking creatine, had once again higher one-rep maxes than the control group. (13✓)
To wrap up this article, we’ll discuss the side effects of creatine monohydrate. As a supplement, and knowing how much controversy surrounds supplements, it’s important to take a look at the side effects creatine may provide.
With that being, the side effects of creatine are quite minimal. The amount of research that has been put into creatine monohydrate has shown that test after test, no side effects have really sprouted from the multi-million dollar supplement.
A study conducted whether to see if creatine was safe or not showed just how safe creatine really was. Eighteen males performing resistance exercises were supplemented with .3 grams of creatine for 7 days. (14✓)
After 30 days, the only side effect measured was an increase in weight which could have been caused by an increase in muscle mass or water fluctuation. Blood and urine samples were normal, along with 41 other biochemical parameters. (14✓)
Even with the weight increase seen in the study, creatine is pretty safe for you with no detrimental effects on any of your organs.
In conclusion, does creatine cause hair loss? The answer is not a definite no, but the small amount of evidence backing up this claim pushes the controversy down. The claim needs to be researched more as hair loss is an uncomfortable topic to discuss.
Losing your hair completely crushes your confidence in some people, the humiliation of having bald patches as you grow older is something some people have to face. However, creatine looks to be not a contributing factor in hair loss.
Got any questions? Leave them down below, along with any comments you may have about creatine monohydrate!