Creatine is a popular supplement used by many people, but does creatine cause hair loss?
It is one of the most well-researched supplements and is regarded as safe to use with minimal side effects.
However, some studies have noted that creatine may increase DHT levels.
DHT is a type of androgen steroid and a derivative of Testosterone.
Increased DHT levels can shrink hair follicles and shorten their life cycle, causing hair loss and thinning.
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What Is Creatine
Creatine is a compound that is found naturally within cells.
Muscle cells have higher creatine levels - they contain around 95% of the body's creatine, the brain, liver and kidneys contain the other 5%. (Source)
It is very similar to amino acids; your body can also produce creatine from the amino acids glycine and arginine.
Taking this supplement is popular among fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders and other athletes.
Supplementation with creatine causes your body to store extra phosphocreatine.
Phosphocreatine is a form of stored energy, essential for creating the body's primary energy source, called ATP.
When the body has more ATP, you can perform better.
Your bodies natural production of creatine is influenced by various factors. (Source)
Factors Influencing Creatine Production:
Dietary meat intake.
Level of exercise.
Amount of muscle mass.
Several other processes happen while taking creatine, which can also lead to increased muscle mass and strength.
Further Reading: What Is Creatine
What Is DHT
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen steroid and hormone.
It is a derivative of Testosterone; the enzyme 5α-reductase catalyzes the formation of DHT from Testosterone.
An androgen is a sex hormone that contributes to developing male sex characteristics, such as body hair growth.
DHT also has the side effect of contributing to faster scalp hair loss.
Does Creatine Increase DHT
DHT seems to increase levels of DHT.
After seven days of creatine supplementation, the DHT to Testosterone ratio increased by ~36%.
This ratio continued to be elevated by ~22% on a maintenance dosage of creatine.
Creatine supplementation appears to increase the conversion of Testosterone to DHT via upregulation of the 5α-reductase enzyme, therefore increasing levels of DHT.
Does DHT Cause Hair Loss
DHT seems to promote scalp hair loss in multiple ways.
Increased androgens like DHT can shrink hair follicles and shorten their life cycle, causing hair to grow thinner and fall out quicker.
DHT can also increase the time it takes for follicles to grow new hair when old hairs fall out.
Image Credit: Examine
However, these effects vary in different people.
Some people are more or less sensitive to DHT's effects on hair loss due to variations of their androgen receptor (AR) genes.
Androgen receptors allow hormones such as Testosterone and DHT to bind to them, usually resulting in ordinary hormonal activities.
But variations in the AR gene can increase some peoples androgen receptor sensitivity in their scalp hair follicles, making them more likely to experience hair loss.
Other people may have a reduced sensitivity to DHT on their scalp hair follicles, meaning they don't experience hair loss.
Overall, it seems as though DHT can promote hair loss in those with a predisposition to it.
Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss
Since DHT can promote hair loss, this raises the question of whether creatine encourages hair loss.
However, there are no studies directly assessing whether creatine supplementation causes hair loss.
Therefore, it is possible but not known if creatine causes hair loss.
Other Side Effects (Creatine & DHT)
Hair loss isn't the only possible side effect of creatine.
Creatine can cause it's own side effects.
High levels of DHT can also cause some side effects.
Creatine Side Effects:
Many of creatine's side effects are mostly anecdotal and not backed up with evidence.
There are also many misconceptions and myths associated with creatine.
Creatine is widely regarded as safe - over 500 studies have proven it's effects and safety.
It is also being used as a treatment for some medical conditions.
However, there may still be some side effects in high dosages or long-term usage of creatine.
We believe that creatine is safe for use at the recommended dosages.
Further Reading: Creatine Side Effects
DHT Side Effects:
High levels of DHT can cause some side effects on its own.
Slow healing of the skin after an injury
Coronary heart disease
Increased male sex characteristics
Although creatine can increase DHT, it likely isn't significant enough to cause any of the side effects associated with high DHT.
Research has suggested that creatine can increase DHT.
A 2009 study found that supplementation with creatine can increase DHT levels.
DHT is a steroid hormone which can contribute to hair loss in some people.
However, there are no studies directly assessing whether creatine causes hair loss.
Therefore, it is possible creatine can contribute to hair loss, but it is still unknown.
According to the research available, creatine is generally safe to use.
However, if you're sensitive to hair loss and have family members with baldness, you may wish to avoid creatine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does creatine increase DHT?
A: Research has suggested that creatine can increase DHT. One study found that supplementation with creatine can increase DHT levels.
Q: Does creatine cause hair loss in teens?
A: Creatine increases the level of a hormone called DHT, this hormone can increase the likelihood of male pattern baldness and hair loss.
Q: What are the side effects of creatine?
A: Many of creatine's side effects are mostly anecdotal and not backed up with evidence. There are also many misconceptions and myths associated with creatine. Most side effects are digestive-related such as bloating and stomach aches.