Creatine and hair loss
written by Philip Stefanov | JUNE 14, 2022
Creatine is a popular supplement. It’s one of the rare products that genuinely works, doesn’t cost a small fortune, and has no severe side effects.
A common concern with creatine is that it might lead to hair loss. So, men have been on high alert, and many have even stopped taking creatine for fear of losing their precious locks.
Should we worry about supplementing with creatine, and where does the idea come from, anyway?
Where The Idea Originated
In one study from 2009, researchers examined the effects of creatine supplementation on the dihydrotestosterone (DHT) to testosterone (T) ratio. Twenty college-aged rugby players were split into two groups:
- 25 grams of creatine daily (loading phase)
- 50 grams of a placebo (glucose)
Both lasted for seven days, and the participants then took maintenance doses (five grams of creatine or 25 grams of glucose daily) for two weeks.
Serum testosterone levels didn’t increase, but DHT levels went up by 56 percent after the creatine loading phase and remained 40 percent above baseline after the two weeks of maintenance. The DHT to T ratio also spiked by 36 percent and remained elevated by 22 percent following the entire protocol.
The authors of the paper concluded:
“Creatine supplementation may, in part, act through an increased rate of conversion of T to DHT.”
The seemingly innocent finding led people to believe that creatine leads to hair loss since DHT can bind to hair follicle receptors, causing them to shrink.
A Few Thoughts On The Matter
1. Researchers didn’t study potential hair loss due to creatine supplementation. Their objective was to understand the impact of creatine on androgens––the group of sex hormones responsible for male development and associated traits.
2. DHT levels didn’t shoot up over the natural range, which is 0.38 to 3.27 nmol/L. The starting average DHT was 0.98 nmol/L in subjects from the above study. Levels then spiked to 1.52 and decreased to 1.37 nmol/L for the duration of the experiment.
3. While in range, their starting DHT is on the low end, spikes to an average level (at best), and settles slightly over the initial value.
4. This is the only study to examine the link between creatine and DHT. We shouldn’t put too much stock into the findings or worry about some acute increase that might have gone down a few weeks after the experiment.
5. Genetics is the primary thing that dictates if and when we lose our hair. Other things, like steroid use, can speed up the process, but I don’t believe creatine supplementation is one of them.
If you are worried that creatine will cause you to go bald, by all means, stop taking it. But, I believe that it won’t make a difference in the long run simply because it doesn’t have such profound effects on human physiology. Even if it does bump DHT levels slightly, the increase is likely well within natural limits and nothing to worry about.
Thank you for taking the time. Until next week,
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