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  5. Creatine And Hair Loss: Is There A Connection?

Hair loss is not new. Even Julius Caesar is believed to have been obsessed over this and tried every trick to grow his hair!

While genetics, age, external pollutants and poor lifestyle choices are the most common causes of hair loss, have you heard of its link with creatine?

Creatine is a protein supplement generally used by bodybuilders and sportsmen. Many athletes who consume creatine supplements are known to experience hair loss and Male Pattern Baldness. But are the two really connected? Let's find out.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is one of the most widely researched bodybuilding supplements. It’s a molecule found in the body that’s produced from amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

Creatine is made with the help of the protein you eat by the liver, kidneys and the pancreas. Your muscles covert the creatine into adenosine triphosphate, which your body utilises to boost energy and strength during an activity.

Creatine’s value lies in its ability to increase creatine levels in the muscle. This helps enhance your recovery between sets and augments the quantity and quality of your workout or sport. With time, you’ll see faster gains in both size and strength.

Several bodybuilders and athletes take creatine supplements to increase muscle mass and help improve their exercise performance. You can get your dose of creatine from animal products like red meat or you can consume supplements.

Note:

Creatine leads to more strength during your workout while protein induces increased repair of muscles after your workout. Hence, creatine supplementation should be considered complementary to consuming protein, not a replacement for protein.

Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?

There isn’t too much evidence to indicate if one of creatine’s side effects is hair loss. Much of the evidence link is anecdotal, meaning it arises from personal experience or personal testimonies.

The single scientific bit of literature [1] that potentially connects creatine and hair loss was a study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine in 2009. The study followed 20 male rugby players who consumed 25 grams of creatine supplements in a day for a brief period of 3 weeks.

In the trial, it was demonstrated that the supplement ‘may’ surge the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The levels of DHT increased to over 50% in the first seven days and for the following two weeks, the levels came to over 40%. [2]

DHT, a potent androgen, is considered to be the hormone responsible for male-pattern baldness in those who are genetically inclined to losing hair. Besides this spike in numbers, there was no record of hair loss and no data stated that the test subjects were predisposed for male-pattern baldness.

It evidently states in the study’s conclusion that before drawing a verdict, it needs further investigation as the group was too small to establish the findings. The study merely illustrates a relationship between the consumption of creatine and higher DHT levels. It does not ratify a direct correlation between creatine and losing hair, or even link the two.

Based on this study and the evidence, it would be inaccurate to suggest that taking creatine is a direct trigger for male pattern baldness or hair loss. Looking closely at DHT will give you a better understanding about how it contributes to progression of hair loss in male adults.

An increase in DHT alone doesn’t cause your hair to thin and fall out. For creatine to have any tangible effect on hair loss, your body must be sensitive to DHT and genetics plays a large part too.

The exact reason for hair fall is particular to each individual. Typically, you can blame factors like age, hormones and genetics. Rarely does creatine cause hair loss. No need to blame creatine. For now, anyway.

Creatine And Hair Loss In Men

To start with, DHT is already present in your body naturally. As compared to women, men have higher levels of DHT, and it plays a part [3] in the development of manly attributes like stronger bones, higher strength, deeper voices, increased muscle mass, etc.

Hence, akin to other hormones, DHT [4] is not intrinsically “bad” or “good.” Men can have undesirable sexual side-effects [5] with low DHT and it’s best not to lower DHT levels to prevent hair loss without proper consultation.

In other words, in the grand scheme of your hormone levels, creatine is just a minor and unproven factor. Furthermore, no matter how high the androgen levels, if you don’t have a genetic tendency towards baldness, then you’re resistant to balding. [6]

Creatine And Hair Loss In Women

Hair loss is more common in men than women. In comparison to men, the levels of DHT and testosterone are lower in women, which makes hormonal hair loss uncommon. If it takes place, it’s perhaps because of a medical condition such as hyperthyroidism or polycystic ovary syndrome. [7]

Thus, for women, hair loss due to creatine should be less of a worry. Even if you link the increase in DHT to creatine, a healthy woman has insufficient circulating testosterone to produce a considerable quantity of DHT.

Note:

Hair shedding is a part of everyday life. On an average, losing 80 to 100 strands a day is normal. If you shed more, your hair is thinning and doesn’t seem to grow back, only then there’s a problem and time to see your doctor.

How To Stop Hair Loss Due To Creatine?

While the two are not proven to be linked, there are several solutions to treat your hair loss - from medications like Minoxidil and Finasteride to hair transplantation and laser therapy.

No matter what, consultation with your dermatologist is wise to understand the root cause of your hair loss. To fight hair loss, you need to know what you’re up against.

SkinKraft Tip:

To promote hair growth, you need to 'feed' your hair from the inside. Try to increase your protein intake with a protein-rich diet including food like fish, meat, beans, whole grains, nuts, etc. Other than that, minerals like omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc and vitamins like A, C and E also contribute to healthier hair.

How Much Creatine Causes Hair Loss?

Each individual has their own creatine requirement. Those who train less but eat more meat don’t need as much creatine as compared to those who regularly train but eat little meat.

You can supplement creatine through a loading protocol. ‘Loading’ is the most common way of taking this supplement with dosages starting at a loading dose for two to seven days. Typically, this dose is much more than what you’ll be taking, once you increase your body’s stores of creatine.

A maintenance dose follows the loading phase.

An example of the correct dose includes: [8]

  • Loading phase - 20 grams (split in 4 doses x 5 g) per day for 5 to 7 days
  • Maintenance phase - 5 grams per day

A common formula for the quantity of intake is 0.3 grams per kg per day during the loading phase and 0.03 grams per kg per day for the remainder of the cycle.

The maximum creatine your body can hold depends on the amount of muscle mass you have, the more muscle mass you have the more your body can store. A professional will give you a more personalised approach based on your needs and mass.

SkinKraft Tip:

Take creatine with carbs to increase insulin response and assist absorption.

Does Hair Grow Back After Creatine Hair Loss?

Everyone reacts to supplements, drugs and products differently. While creatine may or may not have effects on hair, first and foremost it’s of utmost importance to establish your type of hair loss.

If we assume creatine caused your hair fall, then you would have experienced shedding around two months after you began consuming the supplement. For your hair to grow back, you have to stop the intake and consult a dermatologist who will give you customised treatments to suit your needs. If you do so, you can see growth.

Wrapping Up

Even if there is some link between creatine and hair loss, it’s a cause of concern primarily for men, especially those genetically prone to baldness in the first place. If your family history comes with early hair loss and you’re experiencing it yourself, you should consult your doctor. Always keep in mind: whether you have lush tresses or not, you’re beautiful from the inside out.

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