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Creatine is a popular nutritional and sports supplement. You may have read that using creatine can lead to hair loss. But is this true?

While creatine itself may not directly lead to hair loss, it may affect the levels of a hormone that does.

Keep reading to learn more about creatine, its benefits and side effects, and what the research says about its connection to hair loss.

There isn’t much to indicate that creatine supplementation actually causes hair loss. In fact, much of the evidence for the link is anecdotal. This means that it comes from people’s personal testimony or experiences.

However, a small 2009 study in college-age rugby players found increased levels of a hormone associated with hair loss following three weeks of a creatine supplementation regimen. This hormone is called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

DHT is a hormone that’s derived from another hormone that you may be familiar with — testosterone. DHT is also more potent than testosterone.

How does DHT relate to hair loss?

Hair follicles have their own life cycle. A hair growth phase is followed by a resting phase, after which the hair falls out.

DHT can bind to specific hormone receptors in hair follicles. This can lead to briefer hair growth cycles as well as hairs that are thinner and shorter. Because there’s less hair growth, more hairs are falling out than are replaced.

Additionally, some people have a genetic predisposition for hair loss. Variations in a gene called AR can lead to increased activity of the hormone receptors found within hair follicles. Further, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT may be more active in people with hair loss.

How does creatine relate to hair loss?

The 2009 study in rugby players used a creatine supplement regimen involving seven days of creatine loading, during which a higher level of the supplement was given. This was followed by a maintenance period of lower levels of creatine.

The researchers found that levels of DHT increased over 50 percent during the loading period and stayed 40 percent over baseline during the maintenance period. Levels of testosterone didn’t change.

It’s important to note here that the researchers didn’t observe hair loss in the study participants. Therefore, it’s unlikely that creatine supplementation itself causes hair loss.

However, an increase in DHT levels was observed. Since DHT levels play a role in hair loss, this increase could put you at risk, particularly if you’re genetically predisposed to hair loss.

Overall, more research is needed into creatine’s effect on DHT levels. Further research should also be performed to assess whether increases in DHT due to creatine supplementation are sufficient to promote hair loss.

Creatine is a source of energy for your muscles. It’s naturally produced by your liver, pancreas, and kidneys. You can also acquire creatine through your diet by consuming red meat and fish.

Creatine is stored in your skeletal muscles as phosphocreatine. This can be broken down later during physical activity to be used as energy for muscle contractions.

When you take creatine supplements, more creatine becomes available in your muscles. Due to this increase in creatine levels, your muscles may be able to generate more energy.

Because of this, some people take creatine to increase their muscle mass and improve athletic performance. Creatine supplements can be found in a variety of forms, including powders, liquids, and tablets.

If you want to use creatine, there are some potential side effects and safety concerns that you should be aware of. We’ll explore these topics in more detail below.

Water retention

Creatine can cause water retention, which may also lead to temporary weight gain. Concerns have been raised that water retention may lead to the risk of things like dehydration and cramps. However, research hasn’t supported these concerns.

A 2003 study in college football players found that creatine didn’t lead to increased levels of cramping or injury. Additionally, a 2009 review found no evidence to support that creatine use negatively affects fluid balance or heat tolerance.

Kidney concerns

There are also concerns that creatine could damage the kidneys. A 2018 review found that creatine had no negative effects on kidney function in healthy individuals. However, if you have underlying kidney problems, you may wish to avoid taking creatine supplements.

Safe for adults

Compared to other supplements, creatine has been extensively studied. When taking appropriate doses, creatine is safe to use.

Additionally, in a 2007 position state, the International Society of Sports Nutrition says that using creatine within the proper guidelines is “safe, effective, and ethical.”

There are few studies assessing the effects of long-term creatine use. However some older studies (in 2001 and 2003) in athletes have indicated that long-term use of creatine doesn’t lead to any adverse health effects.

Use caution for adolescents

Caution should be used when considering creatine use by adolescents. This is because studies on the safety of creatine supplementation in healthy adolescents are limited.

If you’d like to start using creatine as a supplement but have questions or concerns, you should speak to your doctor first.

As discussed above, creatine supplementation doesn’t directly lead to hair loss. But if you’re experiencing hair loss, you should make an appointment with a doctor.

Additionally, you should see your doctor if you experience sudden, patchy hair loss or lose large amounts of hair when brushing or washing.

Many causes of hair loss are treatable. Your doctor will work closely with you to diagnose the cause of your hair loss and recommend a treatment that’s right for you.

Research hasn’t shown that creatine directly causes hair loss. One 2009 study did find that creatine supplementation is associated with an increase in a hormone called DHT, which can contribute to hair loss.

Overall, creatine is safe to use as a supplement for most adults. However, since it may lead to increases in DHT levels, you may wish to avoid using creatine or talk to your doctor before using it if you’re predisposed to hair loss.