Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in meat, fish, and other foods. It is one of the most popular nutritional supplements in the sports industry. Creatine may help to improve athletic performances in aerobic activities, such as distance running, swimming, cycling, soccer, tennis, and basketball. This makes it a popular supplement for men.
But there may be a dark side to creatine, is it causing hair loss? The answer is, likely not. But there is some evidence that they may be linked.
The Study That Started The Myth
Before we go any further, you have to understand a bit of the basics.
One of the major contributing factors to hair loss is DHT, which is short for dihydrotestosterone. DHT is a byproduct of testosterone, and it causes hair follicles to shrink. As the hair follicles shrink, they produce thinner hairs that eventually stop growing.
DHT is formed is through an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme changes testosterone into DHT.
The way prescription hair loss drugs, like Finasteride, work is by inhibiting this enzyme. In other words, they stop the conversion of testosterone into DHT, and therefore stop hair loss. In some cases, men who take Finasteride for over 2 years even grow their hair back.
The 2009 study that began the controversy regarding creatine and hair loss was conducted with a sample of 20 college-age athletes.
The participants were split into two groups, a placebo group and a control group. The control group were given supplements with creatine, and the placebo group did not have any creatine.
The results were that the group that had creatine supplementation had significantly increased their DHT levels. In other words, the creatine increased DHT. However, the control group didn't experience any hair loss.
So, does this mean that creatine causes hair loss? Well, not exactly. It is important to note that the study was only conducted on 20 young men, for only a few weeks, and that creatine can have different effects on different people.
One of the most important factors to consider is genetics. For example, men with a genetic predisposition to male pattern baldness will be more susceptible to it. Men with this predisposition have a sensitivity to DHT.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid (a building block of protein). It is found in high-protein foods like fish, red meat, and poultry.
Your body uses creatine to produce energy in your cells. It is one of the most important molecules for building and maintaining muscle.
What Are the Side Effects of Creatine?
Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most studied nutritional supplements in the world. It has been researched in hundreds of clinical trials, with thousands of people.
Some common side effects of creatine are diarrhea, muscle cramps, bloating, and weight gain. Most of these side effects are short-term and go away when you stop taking the supplement.
In most cases, creatine is safe to use. There have been no major side effects found in scientific studies.
What Actually Causes Hair Loss?
Hair loss is dreaded by many men, especially since there are so many causes of hair loss.
1. Genetics: Genetics plays a big role in hair loss. If your father or grandfather had male pattern baldness, then you are more likely to have it. Male pattern baldness is caused by the overproduction of the hormone DHT. DHT binds to receptors in the hair follicles, eventually causing them to shrink until they eventually stop producing hair altogether.
2. Aging: Aging can cause hair loss. While aging, your body produces less testosterone, which is the hormone that causes hair growth. This is why older men are more likely to have hair loss.
- Lupus: Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause hair loss.
- Alopecia areata: Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss, often in patches.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a disease in which the thyroid isn't producing enough thyroid hormone. It can cause hair loss on the scalp.
4. Stress: Stress can cause hair loss too. When you are stressed, your body produces a hormone called cortisol, which causes your hair to fall out.
5. Medications: Certain medications can cause hair loss, such as antidepressants or blood pressure medications.
Telogen Effluvium Hair Loss
Hair grows through stages of growth, resting, and shedding. Telogen Effluvium is the medical term for when large amounts of hair are shed due to a disturbance of the hair growth cycle. It is caused by many factors, including:
1. Surgery: Surgery can cause an increased amount of hair to shed, due to the stress and trauma of the surgery.
2. Trauma: Injury to your scalp can cause an increased amount of hair to shed.
3. Severe illness: Severe illness, or even a mild illness, can cause an increased amount of hair to shed.
4. Excessive stress: Severe emotional distress can cause an increase amount of hair to shed.
5. Medications: Certain medications can cause an increase amount of hair to shed.
Alopecia Areata Hair Loss
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own hair follicles. It causes hair loss, often in patches. There is no cure, but there are treatments to help slow down hair loss.
A Hair Loss Solution
Phoenix Health is a telehealth platform for men, no camera or voice chat required. You can renew your life and take control of your hair loss by speaking to a doctor who has helped hundreds of men regrow their hair.
Phoenix prescribes Finasteride, a proven treatment for male pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia) that is proven to work for the majority of men. Take control, talk today.
This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.