If you're into the gym, you've probably heard of creatine.
But amidst its popularity, questions have arisen regarding its potential link to hair loss, leaving many to wonder if this muscle-boosting compound could be costing them their locks.
In the guide, we'll separate the facts from the myth, answering if creatine really does cause hair loss. We'll also discuss some other potential factors that could be contributing to your hair loss.
- What is creatine?
- What is creatine used for?
- How does creatine work?
- Does creatine cause hair loss?
- Other causes of hair loss
What is creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in our bodies that plays a critical role in helping the muscles produce energy, especially during exercise. According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, around 95% of it is stored in our muscles, with 5% in our brains.
What is creatine used for?
We all need enough creatine in our body to function correctly, but one study found the average person needs one to three grams of creatine a day, while larger athletes who train intensely may need five to ten grams to maintain their stores.
We get creatine from various dietary sources, with red meat and fish being the primary contributors. For example, 500 grams of beef or salmon provides roughly 1-2 grams of creatine.
Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts opt to supplement with creatine to increase their muscle mass, performance in high-intensity exercises, and recovery time. These supplements are available in various forms, including powder, tablets, capsules, and even liquid.
How does creatine work?
When you take creatine, most of it goes to your muscles, where it converts into creatine phosphate. This creatine phosphate then plays a crucial role in the regeneration of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary energy currency of the cell. When you have more ATP, you're more likely to keep up the intensity of your workout and perform better.
Besides its energy-boosting capabilities, creatine supplements can also boost muscle growth, according to a study. It can expand the water content in your muscle cells, increasing their size and potentially leading to muscle growth over time.
Does creatine cause hair loss?
The topic of creatine and its potential connection to hair loss has been a subject of discussion and debate in recent years. A lot of people are worried about how this popular supplement might be affecting their hair.
This speculation comes from a single study back in 2009, where a group of rugby players took creatine daily for three weeks.
The results of the study showed a nearly 50% increase in dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels, a hormone derived from testosterone, known to play a significant role in the development of androgenetic alopecia, a common form of hair loss. DHT has the potential to shrink hair follicles and shorten the hair growth cycle, leading to thinner hair strands and, eventually, hair loss.
But here's the twist: hair loss wasn't observed during the study, just DHT. So, what we can really highlight here is the change in hormone levels, nothing more.
On top of that, there have been about 12 other studies exploring the link between creatine and DHT, and interestingly enough, none of them have mirrored the results found in the 2009 study.
So, the scientific evidence does not conclusively support the idea that creatine directly causes hair loss. There's just not enough evidence to fully back up the claim. Therefore, if you're dealing with hair loss, there could be other factors in the mix.
Other causes of hair loss
It's important to acknowledge that creatine may not be the primary factor in hair loss. There are various other potential causes that could be contributing to this issue. Some of these may include:
If your family has a history of hair loss, particularly male or female pattern baldness, there's a higher likelihood that you might experience it, too. This type of hair loss is typically characterised by a receding hairline, thinning at the crown, or overall thinning, and it tends to follow a predictable pattern. According to the NHS, pattern baldness affects over 6.5 million men in the UK.
High stress levels can take a toll on your body in many ways, and your hair is no exception. Telogen effluvium is a condition often linked to severe stress, causing hair to prematurely enter the shedding phase of its growth cycle. This can lead to noticeable hair loss, which is usually temporary but can be quite distressing. To learn more, read our guide on how to stop hair loss from stress.
Your hair, like the rest of your body, needs a variety of nutrients to stay healthy. A diet lacking in essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins can lead to weakened hair strands and increased hair shedding. In particular, deficiencies in iron, vitamin D, and certain B vitamins have been associated with hair loss.
As you get older, it's common for your hair to naturally thin out. The rate at which this happens can vary from person to person and is influenced by genetics and overall health. This age-related thinning is usually gradual, affecting both men and women.
Certain medications and treatments can cause hair loss as a side effect. This includes some types of chemotherapy, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants. In most cases, hair growth will return to normal once the medication is stopped.
This is a pivotal period in a woman's life that involves significant hormonal changes, particularly a decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormones play a key role in hair growth and scalp health, and their reduction can lead to thinning hair and a slower rate of growth. Read our guide on the main causes of female hair loss to learn more.
Choose FUE Clinics for a hair transplant
If you're experiencing hair loss, it's unlikely that creatine is the primary culprit, and there are usually other factors at play. In this case, it's best to consult your GP for guidance.
If hair loss is persistent and it's knocking your confidence, or you have a condition like male-pattern baldness, a hair transplant could be a permanent solution to restore your hair. Take a look at our guide to learn if you're the right candidate for a hair transplant.
At FUE Clinics, we offer two methods of transplantation, including Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transfer (FUT). Both involve moving healthy hairs from the donor site and planting them in balding areas.
If you'd like to learn more about what options are available to you, explore our range of treatments today, take a free online consultation or contact us to speak to our team of hair transplant specialists today. Or, head over to our FAQs or blog for more information.