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Creatine and Hair Loss: Is There A Connection?

on May 09, 2020

Creatine is a popular supplement that is often taken for improving exercise performance and building up muscle mass. The intake of creatine supplements is popular among athletes and bodybuilders. Still, it is not limited to them, as these may also be used by anyone who wants to improve muscle mass and function. Creatine can also be used for lowering blood sugar levels. It is also used for enhancing neurological conditions, but further research is needed.

There are several positive effects that may result from taking creatine supplements; however, there is an issue concerning the connection between creatine and hair loss. If you are an athlete, a bodybuilder, or merely an individual taking creatine supplements, you might have already heard that creatine can cause hair loss. In this article, you can find out more about the relationship between creatine and hair growth.

What is Creatine?

What is Creatine

Creatine supplements created in laboratories are available in the market. The goal of taking creatine supplements is to enhance exercise performance and increase muscle mass. This makes the intake of creatine favorable to athletes and bodybuilders. The following are said to be the benefits of taking creatine supplements, according to its users:

Uses and Benefits of Creatine

Creatine supplements created in laboratories are available in the market. The goal of taking creatine supplements is to enhance exercise performance and increase muscle mass. This makes the intake of creatine favorable to athletes and bodybuilders. The following are said to be the benefits of taking creatine supplements, according to its users:

  • Increased Strength And Improved Performance In High-Intensity Training: Improved performance during exercises can be made possible due to the effects of creatine intake on ATP production.
  • Improvements In Neurological Conditions: Creatine may help reduce symptoms and slow the disease progression of dementia and other neurologic conditions since the brain also stores phosphocreatine. Plenty of ATP is also needed for optimal functioning of the brain; however, more human research is needed regarding this.
  • Other Benefits: Creatine may also help lower blood sugar levels and improve the quality of life in older adults by improving muscle function. It also helps treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

How Is Creatine Taken?

The most common and easily accessible, as well as the least expensive form of creatine is creatine monohydrate. For decades, it has been well-researched and supported by hundreds of studies, making it the best creatine supplement.

In taking creatine supplements, one should start with a loading phase. To load creatine in the body, 20 grams of supplements must be taken per day for five to seven days. These 20 grams should be split into 5 grams to be taken four times per day. The absorption of these supplements may be improved by having a carbohydrate- or protein-based meal.

After the loading phase, it is recommended that the user take 3 to 5 grams of the supplement per day. This is done to maintain creatine levels in the muscles. It is also possible to skip the loading phase by merely taking 3 to 5 grams per day for three to four weeks to maximize creatine storage.

Creatine pulls water into the muscle cells, so you need to take it with a glass of water. Also, when using creatine monohydrate, you should stay well hydrated all throughout the day.

Possible Side Effects Of Creatine

Over the years, creatine has been one of the most well-researched supplements. Studies reveal that there are no harmful side effects that may result from taking creatine supplements. Taking creatine in regular doses does not harm the liver and kidneys. There are reports that say that taking creatine supplements may cause muscle cramps and dehydration. However, there is no valid evidence regarding these, as others claim that creatine can even prevent the occurrence of muscle cramps and dehydration during or after exercise.
However, despite these reports about the good effects of creatine, there are also reports about one side effect associated with it: creatine hair loss. The next part of this article reveals more about this creatine hair loss myth.

Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?

If you have previously heard about the connection between creatine and hair loss, you might have already done some research. After reading several blogs, comments, and articles, you might feel that if you take creatine supplements, you must choose between muscle growth and hair loss. There are pieces of evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, that creatine links to hair loss. A part of this proof is related to the link between creatine and DHT.

From scientific evidence, a link between creatine and hair loss may be established through the role that DHT plays in hair growth. In this section, you can find out more about DHT, its connection with creatine, and how it causes hair loss.

What is DHT?

Dihydrotestosterone, or simply DHT, is an androgen that is a by-product of another androgen, which is the testosterone. It is produced when an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase converts testosterone into DHT.

DHT is a powerful male sex hormone that has a huge role in promoting the development of male characteristics and male reproduction.

How Can Too Much DHT Lead To Hair Loss?

Hair loss can occur in both males and females. However, it is more well known in males, especially those who are genetically susceptible to hair loss. Increased DHT can contribute to hair loss by interacting with hair follicles through a process called miniaturization. In this process, the DHT binds to the receptors of the scalp’s hair follicles, causing them to shrink. The receptors will be soon weakened and eventually die. The loss of the receptors in the scalp results in the cessation of hair production.

Androgens, even if they are called male hormones, are present in both males and females. In the case of females, hair loss development is far less than males. DHT and genetic heritage are thought to have a lesser role in females as compared to males.

Although too much DHT is responsible for baldness, it is still an important hormone. DHT is responsible for hair growth in other areas of the body, such as the chest, back, legs, and other areas.

Creatine’s Relationship With DHT

Creatine and DHT are both found in the body, but creatine is producing by supplements, which improves muscle function. Naturally, an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase converts testosterone into DHT. However, there is some indication that creatine aids in increasing the rate of this conversion process. DHT can contribute to hair loss in males by binding to receptors responsible for hair production. Genetic heritage also plays a prominent role in male hair loss. Even if this is the case, the exact relationship of creatine and DHT inside the body has not yet been ultimately confirmed.

Hair Loss Prevention By Blocking DHT

If DHT is responsible for hair loss, then one solution to prevent this is to block DHT. There are many products available in the market that can block DHT, and one of these is DHT-blocking shampoo. While this is more effective in keeping DHT off the hair follicles, it doesn’t completely block the receptor-binding activity of DHT.

Medicines are also available for blocking DHT. Medications are more effective methods for blocking DHT. Finasteride is a kind of drug that is categorized as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. As mentioned, 5-alpha-reductase is an enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. Finasteride halts the production of DHT by blocking its source. It binds and prevents the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme from converting testosterone into DHT. It does not affect testosterone. It keeps it in the manner in which it initially was.

A study published concerning the use of finasteride claimed that if combined with minoxidil, it is the most effective method in slowing and stopping baldness in males.

Side Effects Of Blocking DHT

The majority of those who used DHT blocking shampoo and finasteride reported having healthier and thicker hair, and no apparent negative side effects were reported. However, some reports show negative side effects especially after taking finasteride. These side effects include:

  • Higher Testosterone: Testosterone will be increasing in the body because the conversion of testosterone to DHT is blocked by finasteride. High testosterone levels have been linked to medical health problems such as prostate enlargement, liver disease, mood swings, increased risk of heart attack, and others.
  • Lower Sex Drive: There was a reported small number of men who had reduced interest in sex after taking finasteride.
  • Weak Erections: This was a rare side effect reported that might be due to low levels of DHT. The weak erections reported by a small number of men. The majority of those who used DHT blockers did not get severe side effects. A study about Finasteride was conducted in 3,177 Japanese men in 2012. The result showed that only 23 had adverse reactions. Side effects were also rarely reported, even if the dosage for preventing hair loss was increased to five times the usual dose.

Anecdotal Evidence

There may be tons of comments all over the internet about creatine makes hair loss. Some say that they became bald after years of taking creatine. Others may say they experience hair thinning. These were all based on personal experiences that do not have definite proof that creatine cause hair loss. However, there is one thing common in these cases. It is the recovery from hair loss once these users stopped taking a creatine supplement. Proven or not, a creatine side effect of hair loss can’t be ruled out. This is the reason why more studies about creatine and hair loss were being conducted.

Scientific Evidence

In 2009, a study focused on the link between creatine and hair loss. In this study, 20 healthy young rugby players were randomized into two groups. One group was given a placebo while the other was given creatine monohydrate for three weeks. The dosage for the creatine group was changed from the recommended 5 grams per day to an immense 25 grams per day. This was done for seven days, and maintenance of 5 grams per day was given for the remaining 14 days.

The study did not conclude that creatine cause hair loss. Testosterone levels were insignificant in all subjects. However, it was found out that there was an increase in the conversion rate of testosterone to DHT in the group who had taken creatine monohydrate. The DHT levels of the creatine group were reported to increase at Day seven and Day 21 significantly. The results showed that DHT levels increased by 56% and 40% above the baseline on day seven and day 21, respectively. The ratio of testosterone to DHT was also increased. It measured 36% after seven days and remained elevated at 22% for the remaining 14 days.

The study was conducted with small sample size. Further research is needed to generalize these findings for a larger population. There were also studies made concerning creatine and testosterone. Many studies claimed that creatine does not affect testosterone levels.

When To See a Doctor

Taking creatine supplements does not directly lead to hair loss. There is still no available study that establishes their connection.  However, if you are taking creatine supplements and you are experiencing hair loss, it is best to set an appointment with a doctor. You should not use DHT blockers, especially finasteride, without consulting your doctor first. Many causes of hair loss are treatable. Your doctor can correctly diagnose your condition and recommend a treatment that is suited for you.

What Are People Saying?

There isn’t much information that supports the link between creatine and hair loss. Even if studies are made by examining the effects of creatine supplements and the production of DHT, there is still no direct connection between these two. Most of the reports are unreliable. These reports only came from comments, testimonies, and opinions of people who have personal experiences with or those who have heard them from others.

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Conclusion

Creatine is one of the cheapest, safest, and most effective supplements you can take for enhancing your exercise performance, increasing muscle strength, and improving muscle function. Aside from taking supplements, you can also take creatine by eating red meat and seafood. Creatine not only helps with improving muscle function by increasing muscle growth and mass, but it is also used to help improve neurological conditions and other medical conditions such as lowering blood sugar levels and improving the quality of life of older adults.

Studies reveal that there are no harmful side effects that may result from taking creatine supplements. However, it was connected to hair loss. There were comments, articles, and testimonies that taking creatine supplements have resulted to thinning of hair and baldness. Scientific studies have revealed that there may be a connection between creatine and hair loss through DHT. However, there is only a single study that suggests this. This was the study about a group of 20 rugby players who were given creatine. No direct connection between creatine and male pattern baldness was recognized. However, it was reported that there was an increase in DHT levels after taking creatine. DHT binds to the receptors of the scalp’s hair follicles, causing them to shrink. The receptors will soon weaken and eventually die. The loss of receptors in the scalp results in cessation of hair production. This is only one study that linked creatine to DHT and hair loss.

Other studies have shown that testosterone levels were not affected by taking creatine supplements. It should also be kept in mind that DHT is not the only factor that can contribute to hair loss. There are a lot of factors to consider, and an increase in DHT levels does not necessarily mean that hair will fall out.

Final Thoughts

Today, there is still not enough study made about the direct effects of creatine that can contribute to hair loss. A lot of Comments talk about creatine to hair loss were just educated guesses or myths. But even if it is not proven, it just can’t simply be ruled out. There may be a possibility that creatine may directly cause hair loss, but further intensive research must be done. This includes examinations about the exact relationship of creatine and DHT and assessments whether boosting DHT levels by creatine can promote hair loss.

It is still safe to say that creatine supplements can help you in improving your exercise performance for high-intensity training. However, if you are experiencing side effects like hair loss, it is best to consult with your doctor first to have your condition diagnosed and treated correctly.

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