From weightlifters to athletes and everyday fitness enthusiasts, creatine is a widely-used supplement with clinical support. Creatine is affordable and easy to take, making it popular worldwide, with people of all ages and hair goals.
But like all things in the fitness world, men are right to be skeptical about the side effects of a supplement of this kind. In gyms, clinics, and all over social media, people want to know if creatine is related to hair loss and just how strong this link may be.
Since we pride ourselves on complete hair loss assessment and restoration, Jae Pak, M.D., and our team aims to identify the potential causes and treatments, including those related to creatine.
In this article, we explore the possible connection between creatine and hair loss, spell out the facts and research, then provide a game plan for clients as they navigate the hair restoration process, creatine-caused or not. Let’s begin.
You’ve no doubt encountered creatine in supplement stores, offered online, or even at commercial gyms. Before we examine the potential link between creatine and hair loss, let’s glance over the function of this compound and see how it interacts with various systems of the body.
First, set aside any idea that creatine functions like anabolic steroids or other exogenous chemicals that put the body in a supraphysiological state hormonally speaking – that’s not the case here.
Creatine is simply a compound of amino acids naturally produced by the human body in small amounts. Supplementing in powder or capsule form only works to raise those levels, and no more than five grams daily is required to see results.
What results, you might ask? Through the years, studies have pointed to dozens of positive outcomes from creatine supplementation related to physical and even cognitive performance.
The central mechanism of creatine is all about energy storage and output in the cells of the body, particularly in lean body tissue and muscle mass. Creatine allows tissue to store more energy at any given time, then donate it to the energy powerhouses of the body in the form of ATP, when demand ramps up.
That demand could be anything from sprinting on a track, lifting Olympic-style weights overhead, or running and leaping during a game of basketball.
Time and time again, studies show that performance boosts from creatine are noticeable in nearly every type of physical exertion, from aerobic endurance to pure power output.
Lower fatigue, quicker recovery, blood sugar regulation, and even working memory enhancement are just additional reasons to take creatine for active, healthy individuals.
Considering the many benefits creatine provides, the known side effects are minimal and can be avoided with some precaution.
Creatine users sometimes report weight gain as “water weight,” especially on sodium- and carb-heavy diets. Most commonly, this happens when the user fails to keep a regular exercise schedule and allows creatine to store up too heavily in the system.
Taking too much creatine can also result in bloating, nausea, or an upset stomach. New users and those with sensitive digestion will want to take creatine with sufficient water and eat a clean diet to avoid this type of irritation.
Overall, creatine is proven safe and effective, provided you stay within the boundaries of reasonable use.
Very rarely will you hear a physician, trainer, or everyday person claim that creatine is directly linked to hair loss. However, the topic is still worth some scrutiny, given the huge range of possible interactions it has with the muscular system and perhaps hormone production.
Here’s what we know — and what we don’t know fully – about creatine and how it relates to hair loss.
There’s one hormone always at the center of the hair loss conversation, and that’s testosterone. More specifically, scientists are interested in the interaction of dihydrotestosterone – or DHT – and the miniaturization of follicles on the front and crown areas of the scalp.
The connection here is clear enough, and the fact that medicines like Finasteride work so well (which limits the conversion of tests to DHT) shows us that we’re in the ballpark for effective treatment.
The question now becomes whether creatine has anything to do with the production of testosterone, the hormone’s conversion to DHT in the scalp, or any other aspect of the androgenetic profile that may impact the health and strength of scalp hair, present or future.
With DHT in the spotlight, we can look at the data more confidently and see if we can draw valuable conclusions.
Currently, no published studies show a direct link between creatine and hair loss, but we can connect some dots between related research and piece together an idea.
The main study referenced in the literature tested DHT levels in healthy adult males over three weeks. One group took the recommended dose of daily creatine compared to a placebo.
A few exciting takeaways come from this study from a hair restoration perspective:
These tidbits tell us that DHT could indeed see a spike from short-term creatine use, but the results were far from conclusive. The boost in free testosterone suggests that a hair preservation protocol could prove useful despite that increase since the key mechanism is to limit conversion to DHT — not just stop testosterone in its tracks.
A handful of other studies paint a broader picture that testosterone is generally not affected positively or negatively by creatine in the short or long term.
We need to consider the possibility that increased power output can generate more testosterone production from high-octane exercise, which is a factor always hard to quantify and study in any depth.
Creatine users may be eager to get results in the gym to perform better and look their best, but it’s important not to confuse this supplement with more serious enhancers.
Whether legally prescribed or obtained illicitly, certain performance-boosting compounds have certainly been shown to impact hair health in a short timeframe. This is not to say that creatine users immediately jump to anabolic steroids, but simply to point out that the quest for muscle and performance is not always hair safe.
If total health and wellness are your goals, simply stick to the creatine and clean diet – while avoiding all other compounds that could result in more severe hair loss and other side effects.
All signs point to creatine being safe for hair preservation, so don’t go thinking that this is the make-or-break factor that determines your Norwood scale progression!
However, men of all backgrounds and regimens should be up for long-term success, offsetting any possible issues resulting from DHT spikes, environmental factors, and the rest.
Here are some tips to use right now and protect your hair while getting the most from creatine and a rigorous fitness lifestyle.
It doesn’t matter if you start using creatine, stop using creatine, try a new pre-workout supplement, or just switch shampoos – always track your hair health with an observant eye.
This doesn’t mean waiting until you see clumps of hair on the pillow or in the shower drain. Take note of any changes in the look and feel of your hair every day, especially when you change your lifestyle or supplement protocol.
That’s how you get ahead of the problem and stop hair loss in its tracks early on.
The earlier mention of Finasteride should not be forgotten, as this will be your main defense against DHT-related hair loss from creatine.
We suggest you connect with a hair restoration specialist if you have any anticipation or sign of hair loss, especially as you age.
Working with a specialist like Jae Pak, M.D., can give you a precise, personalized strategy for long-term hair health, rooted in science and vast clinical experience.
While studies don’t offer many conclusions on hair loss and creatine, we know that the facts about prevention and restoration hold strong.
Remain vigilant about the state of your hair at any stage, and stick to the program for general health, wellbeing, and the full enjoyment of life as you want to live it.
So what are you waiting for? Contact Jae Pak MD Medical and schedule your appointment today!
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