Today, the importance of building a chiseled physique has never been so popular. Many join gyms and fitness clubs to trim and sculpt their physiques to resemble greek statues, but recently there has been a lot of talk about one very popular supplement called creatine. In fact, many believe that this popular supplement can accelerate hair loss, but how true is this?
In this article, we will discuss the popular creatine and its effects on genetic hair loss.
What Causes Androgenic Alopecia (Genetic Hair Loss)
First, to understand whether a supplement, lotion, potion or pill can cause hair loss, we must understand what causes hair loss in the first place. Genetic hair loss is triggered by a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Hair follicles contain androgen receptors, DHT binds to the androgen receptor and slowly begins to shrink the hair follicle.
This process is called miniaturization or "thinning", each time the hair sheds it grows back slightly thinner and shorter until the hair follicle stops growing altogether. The 5-alpha reductase enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone into DHT through the bloodstream. Hair follicles, as well as sebaceous glands, contain a high level of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme.
What is Creatine
Creatine is a popular muscle-building supplement that has been around for decades. It is naturally found in animal products like steak and other red meats. Creatine has been found to increase strength, muscle and athletic performance. There are two forms of creatine; creatine monohydrate and creatine ethyl ester.
Both the monohydrate and ethyl ester forms of creatine have been linked with increased hair loss. Creatine is said to pull water into the muscles which can cause the muscles to look larger.
How Can Creatine Cause Hair Loss
Most of the reports online are anecdotal and don't have any real scientific evidence, but there was a study conducted in 2009 that was published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. The study included 20 rugby players that were supplemented with creatine. It should be noted that the study had the participants use 25 grams of creatine, as opposed to the recommended dose of 5 grams.
The researchers found that creatine increased the conversion of testosterone into DHT. DHT is the main catalyst for male and female pattern baldness. The study did not necessarily research creatine and hair loss, but many feel that the increased DHT may significantly increase the acceleration of hereditary hair loss.
To date, there have been no conclusive studies directly linking creatine to hair loss, but there are plenty of anecdotal reports online that suggest creatine can accelerate hair loss in those with the genetic predisposition. However, the study that linked creatine with higher conversion of DHT was a small sample with a larger than normal amount of creatine that isn't recommended on any creatine supplement.
While the supplement may work, it certainly isn't necessary for building muscle or boosting athletic performance. For those individuals concerned with accelerating hair loss, it may be better to hold off on this supplement until further studies are conducted.