Hair loss is quite an annoyance that many people have to deal with. And while it shouldn’t be feared like some nightmarish end of the world, it’s understandable if people look for ways to avoid or delay it.
Nowadays we know a lot about the science behind hair loss even though there’s still more to be discovered. And one of the curious findings of recent research is the connection between creatine, DHT (dihydrotestosterone), testosterone, and hair loss.
So, does creatine make you lose hair?
The short answer is – not as far as we know but there are a few things to keep in mind.
So, before we continue, let’s define a couple of terms:
- What is creatine? Creatine is an energy source for our muscles. It’s naturally produced by our liver, kidneys, and pancreas, but it can be taken as supplements as well. Athletes often take creatine supplements to improve their fitness. Creatine is not directly linked with hair loss.
- What is testosterone? This is a hormone produced mostly by men’s testicles but also by women’s ovaries in smaller doses. It affects bone and muscle mass, red blood cell production, fat storage in our bodies, as well as our sex drives. It’s not directly linked to hair loss.
- What is DHT? Dihydrotestosterone is a hormone that’s derived from testosterone. DHT is more potent than testosterone and it does have a direct effect on hair growth as it can bind to hair follicles’ receptors and shorten their growth phase.
There is some anecdotal evidence that people who’ve taken creatine have noticed hair loss but all reputable studies done on the matter are yet to find a conclusive link between creatine and hair loss.
However, what some studies – like this 2009 study of college rugby players – have found is a link between creatine and DHT. This study has determined that increased levels of creatine intake for a prolonged period of time can increase the DHT levels in the participants by 40-50%.
So, can creatine cause hair loss? With the above study in mind, creatine may be indirectly connected to the potential for hair loss. However, keep in mind that none of the participants in the study experienced noticeable hair loss for the duration of the study.
This goes to show that while DHT can affect hair loss, it’s not the only factor that goes into hair loss and isn’t a necessary condition for it. Hair loss can be caused by myriad factors, the main of which being genetics – everything else tends to be a contributing factor most of the time.
What’s more, other studies don’t even show a significant connection between creatine and DHT. We also need to acknowledge that the 40-50% DHT increase observed by the 2009 study isn’t solely explained by the creatine intake.
So, does creatine cause baldness?
It doesn’t seem like it. All the evidence that even suggests a loose connection between creatine and DHT is either anecdotal or spotty, and even such a connection wouldn’t lead directly to hair loss.
All that being said, if you know you have a genetic risk of hair loss and you’re thinking of taking creatine supplements, it may be worthwhile to keep an eye on your DHT levels and monitor your hair growth.