Many athletes now use creatine to increase muscle strength and produce energy bursts to perform at their best. However, a question has arisen surrounding this sports supplement – does creatine cause hair loss? Read on to find out if one of the most popular performance-enhancing substances may have side effects on you.
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Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss? Study Shows No Direct Causal Link
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is an amino acid present in our body’s muscles and brain. Creatine can be found in seafood, red meat, and supplements (e.g., every 1-2 pounds of beef has 1 gram of creatine). Our body can also produce creatine in small amounts (1-2 grams per day).
Muscles are where the body stores most of the creatine, which is used during physical exercise. Realizing this use of creatine, people take creatine supplements to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance.
Why Do We Need Creatine?
Our bodies need creatine to perform physical activity, as this amino acid allows energy supply for the muscles. To do more work than our bodies can do during exercise, we need more of this substance than the amount we usually get. For this reason, athletes often use creatine in high-intensity workouts. In addition, creatine might help reduce injuries to the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.
Nonetheless, the amount of creatine our bodies produce is too little for us to reach beyond our average capacity. Even creatine from food consumption seems insufficient for those professionals who want to build muscle mass quickly. On the other hand, creatine supplements have great accessibility and affordability. They come in powder, energy bars, tablets, and drink mixes and are available over the counter without a prescription.
As a result, more and more people are looking for creatine supplements as an alternative to the naturally occurring creatine in our bodies and food. But, as beneficial as creatine has shown to be, does creatine cause hair loss? And what are the side effects? Are millions of people using this supplement without knowing its hidden impact on the hair?
Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?
Creatine Increases Dihydrotestosterone
The entire story surrounding creatine and hair loss is rooted in a 2009 study, where a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), associated with hair loss, was reported to increase in some rugby players taking creatine supplements. Specifically, DHT levels increased by 56 percent after seven days of creatine supplementation. But is this finding alone sufficient to conclude that creatine causes hair loss?
What Is Dihydrotestosterone?
If you are unfamiliar with dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, it is a biologically active androgen hormone converted from testosterone in small amounts via an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (5-AR). DHT plays a vital role in the sexual development of males, including sexual differentiation of organs, prostate growth, and sebaceous gland activity.
How Does Dihydrotestosterone Affect the Hair?
Nevertheless, DHT is thought to cause shrinkage to the hair follicles, leading to a shorter hair growth phase and, ultimately, male-pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia – a common form of hair loss in both men and women. In a 2014 study on the use of DHT in diagnosing androgenetic alopecia, scientists found that DHT plays a significant role in developing hair loss.
Yet, the study mentions that in androgenetic alopecia, the most important causal factor is not the amount of DHT alone but might be the genetically-based sensitivity, which varies with different people, of hair follicles to DHT and the response of hair follicles to androgen action. Therefore, creatine does not directly cause hair loss but increases DHT, which has not been adequately proven to result in hair loss.
What Are the Side Effects of Creatine?
Creatine supplementation is safe with few side effects. However, please remember that creatine supplements may temporarily cause you to gain weight due to increased total body water or water retention.
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Is It Safe to Take Creatine Supplements?
Creatine supplements might be unsafe for people with preexisting kidney problems. Still, further research is required.
Other than that, creatine supplements are safe and do not affect kidney function in healthy people. Creatine supplementation has also been proven well-tolerated, with no reported adverse effects in adolescent athletes. When consumed appropriately (4-20 grams per day), creatine is safe for long-term use for up to five years. That said, regardless of your age or health condition, consult your doctor before taking creatine supplements.
In conclusion, creatine is a potent supplement that helps professional athletes and people who wish to enhance their physique to become stronger, grow muscles more efficiently, and recover from a workout faster without causing hair issues. And most importantly, creatine is legitimate in sports and is approved by the International Olympics Committee (IOC).
Feel more energized with creatine as your next choice in your supplement list without concern about hair loss. Who knows if this powerful add-on to your diet will become widespread in the upcoming sports competition?
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