Can Creatine Cause Hair Loss

Creatine is one of the most popular supplements in the fitness industry, known for its ability to enhance muscle strength and improve athletic performance. However, alongside its benefits, there are concerns and debates about potential side effects, one of which is hair loss.

We will investigate the evidence supporting the claim that creatine can contribute to hair loss by examining scientific research, expert opinions, and anecdotal evidence to offer a comprehensive perspective on this issue.

Bottle with creatine.

What Does Creatine Do

Creatine, a naturally occurring compound in the human body, plays a pivotal role in energy metabolism, particularly within muscle cells. Synthesized predominantly in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, creatine is formed from the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine.

In the body, it exists primarily as phosphocreatine, which serves as a rapid source of energy by donating a phosphate group to adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to regenerate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy currency of the cell. This mechanism is crucial during high-intensity physical activities, where quick energy bursts are necessary, as it allows for extended duration and intensity of muscular contraction.

Under normal dietary conditions, individuals consume creatine through sources such as red meat and fish, which typically suffices to maintain adequate levels of creatine in individuals with no health issues or extraordinary physical demands. However, the discovery that supplementary creatine can boost phosphocreatine levels in muscles has led to its widespread adoption as a dietary supplement, particularly among athletes and bodybuilders seeking to enhance muscle mass, improve performance, and expedite recovery during and after intense exercise.

Creatine as a Supplement

The supplementation of creatine, often in forms like powders, liquids, and tablets, became popular following research that demonstrated its ergogenic benefits in the early 1990s. Since then, numerous studies have supported the safe use of creatine supplementation in healthy adults as outlined by authoritative bodies such as the International Society of Sports Nutrition. It has been extensively studied and is considered one of the most effective supplements for increasing muscle mass and strength.

Creatine supplementation is typically done through a loading phase of 20 grams per day, divided into multiple doses, for 5–7 days, followed by a maintenance dose of about 2-10 grams per day. This regimen helps saturate the muscles with creatine, making more energy available for ATP regeneration during physical activity. While it is generally regarded as safe for adult athletes, caution is advised for adolescents and those with pre-existing kidney concerns, highlighting the importance of consulting healthcare providers before commencing supplementation.
A muscular man lifting dumbbells in a gym.

What Are the Types of Hair Loss

Before we answer whether and how creatine can affect hair loss, we will list the most common types of hair loss and their causes.

Hair loss, medically known as alopecia, can manifest in several forms, each with unique characteristics and underlying causes. Alopecia can broadly be divided into scarring and nonscarring types. Scarring alopecia results in permanent damage to follicles, making hair loss irreversible. In contrast, nonscarring alopecia typically allows for the possibility of hair regrowth since the hair follicles remain intact.

Androgenic alopecia, commonly referred to as male-pattern, is the most prevalent form of hair loss. This type is largely genetic and involves a patterned thinning of hair, primarily affecting the top and front of the scalp. Telogen effluvium is another form of nonscarring alopecia, characterized by diffuse thinning of hair across the scalp, often triggered by stress, illness, or hormonal changes, and is usually temporary.

Another notable type is alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that results in focal hair loss, typically presenting as sudden bald patches that can affect the scalp or body. This condition can lead to complete hair loss, known as alopecia totalis, or even loss of all body hair, termed alopecia universalis.

Each type of alopecia may be influenced by a variety of factors, including genetic predisposition, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, and lifestyle stressors, making it essential to understand the specific cause to manage the condition effectively.

What is The Link Between Creatine and Hair Loss

The link between creatine supplementation and hair loss primarily centers around the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a derivative of testosterone and is more potent in its effects. It's well-established that DHT plays a significant role in the development of androgenic alopecia.

A small study in 2009 involving college-aged male rugby players found that creatine supplementation led to increased levels of DHT. During the study, the participants underwent a loading phase where they took higher amounts of creatine, which resulted in a significant increase in their DHT levels. This increase persisted during the maintenance phase, although the levels of testosterone did not change. DHT is known to bind to specific receptors in hair follicles, which can shorten the hair growth cycle and contribute to the thinning of hair.

Creatine might influence the activity of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme converts testosterone into DHT. The theory is that by increasing the body’s metabolism during heavy training phases, creatine might inadvertently increase the activity of this enzyme, thus raising DHT levels and potentially accelerating hair loss in individuals who are genetically predisposed to androgenic alopecia.

So, does creatine cause hair loss? The impact of creatine on hair loss may be more pronounced in individuals who have a genetic predisposition to hair loss. Variations in the androgen receptor (AR) gene can make certain individuals more susceptible to the effects of DHT on hair follicles.

More research is needed to conclusively determine the impact of creatine on hair loss. The existing studies provide some insights but are limited by small sample sizes and short durations.

What to Do if Hair Falls Out While Taking Creatine

If you are using creatine for muscle building or athletic performance, consider other supplements that might not affect DHT levels. Options like branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), whey protein, and beta-alanine may provide some of the performance benefits without the potential risk of hair loss.

When it comes to addressing hair loss with natural solutions, therapeutic serums based on innovative and organic ingredients can be particularly effective. One such ingredient gaining attention is capilia longa, a bioactive form of turmeric. This compound harnesses the power of phytochemicals to support hair growth and scalp health.

A standout product featuring this ingredient is the Activation Serum for Men from Nordic Biolabs.
An advertisement for NordicBioLabs Hair Growth Serum, showing three bottles labeled "Hair Growth Serum" alongside a timeline of results. The graphic claims "93% had a clinically tested reduction in hair loss" with effects over three phases: 0-45 days helping reduce hair loss, 45-90 days rebalancing hair growth cycle, and 90-150 days activating hair growth.

Non-invasive treatment option uses low-level red light therapy to stimulate hair growth by enhancing blood flow to the scalp. This can revive hair follicles and extend the growth phase of the hair cycle. Red light laser caps are wearable devices that can be used at home, making this a convenient option for regular treatment.
Comparison images showing hair growth from day 1 to day 120 using a red light laser cap. The first image displays a balding scalp, and the second shows significantly more hair coverage. Below is a photo of the black cap equipped with 272 diodes emitting a 650 nm frequency light, noted as "One-Size Fits All.

Products containing active ingredients like minoxidil can be effective. It works by widening blood vessels and opening potassium channels, allowing more oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the follicle.

Finasteride is an oral medication that specifically targets hair loss by inhibiting the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), the hormone linked to hair loss in androgenic alopecia. Finasteride is typically used for male pattern baldness and requires a prescription from a doctor.

Ensure your diet is rich in vitamins and minerals that support hair health. Vitamins such as B12, iron, and zinc are essential for maintaining healthy hair growth. 

Stress management techniques, such as meditation and regular exercise, can also help reduce the impact of stress on hair loss.

Here Are Comprehensive Details on Creatine

Types of Creatine

Creatine comes in several different forms, each offering unique benefits and properties. Here are the most common types of creatine available on the market:

  • Creatine Monohydrate: This is the most researched and widely used form of creatine. It is well-established as effective for increasing muscle mass, strength, and exercise performance.
  • Creatine Ethyl Ester: Marketed as a superior form of creatine that supposedly provides better absorption and efficacy, creatine ethyl ester is a creatine molecule attached to an ester salt. However, research suggests that it may not be as effective as creatine monohydrate and could actually result in less effective creatine delivery to muscles.
  • Creatine Hydrochloride (Creatine HCl): This form of creatine is bound with hydrochloric acid, purported to enhance its solubility and absorption compared to creatine monohydrate. Users often report fewer stomach issues and no need for a loading phase. However, more research is needed to confirm these claims over the standard monohydrate form.
  • Buffered Creatine: Also known as Kre-Alkalyn, this type of creatine is formulated to have a higher pH than creatine monohydrate, which is claimed to result in less conversion to creatinine and better absorption. However, studies have shown that these benefits may not be significantly better than what creatine monohydrate already offers.
  • Micronized Creatine: This form is essentially creatine monohydrate that has been micronized, meaning the particles are made smaller to improve solubility and mixability. This can reduce stomach discomfort and potentially improve absorption.
  • Liquid Creatine: While creatine is typically sold in powder form, some products offer it in a liquid form. However, creatine is not stable for long periods in liquid form, which can lead to breakdown into creatinine before it's even consumed, potentially decreasing its efficacy.
  • Creatine Magnesium Chelate: This type combines creatine with magnesium, aimed at improving its absorption and reducing the common side effects like bloating. Some studies suggest that creatine magnesium chelate might be as effective as monohydrate in terms of strength enhancement.

Creatine Benefits

Creatine is a popular supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts due to its significant benefits in boosting physical performance and muscle growth. Primarily stored in the muscles as phosphocreatine, it plays a role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell's energy currency. During high-intensity physical activities, ATP is broken down to power muscle contractions, and the presence of creatine helps regenerate ATP more rapidly, enhancing overall energy production in muscles.

This ability to quickly replenish ATP allows for longer and more intense training sessions, leading to improved strength and muscle mass. Creatine also aids in muscle recovery and reduces fatigue, enhancing functional performance in muscle disorders and daily activities.

Creatine Side Effects

While creatine offers numerous benefits, it also comes with potential side effects, particularly if not used correctly or if an individual has pre-existing health conditions. Common issues include:

  • Muscle Water Retention: Creatine can cause water to be drawn into the muscles, which may lead to weight gain and affect total body water (TBW) distribution, including extracellular (ECW) and intracellular water (ICW) volumes.
  • Gastrointestinal Problems: Some users experience nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues when taking creatine, particularly at high doses.
  • Muscle Strains and Cramps: There are reports of physical discomfort such as muscle strains and cramps, which may be exacerbated by the shifts in water and electrolyte balances due to creatine.
  • Kidney and Liver Dysfunction: Long-term or high-dose use may pose risks to kidney and liver health, potentially leading to conditions like focal segmental glomerulosclerosis or other forms of organ stress.
  • Dehydration and High Blood Pressure: Due to its effects on water retention, creatine may increase the risk of dehydration and elevate blood pressure, presenting significant health risks, especially in individuals with pre-existing conditions.
  • Hormonal Imbalances and Thyroid Disease: Creatine might influence hormonal pathways, potentially leading to imbalances that could exacerbate or trigger thyroid disease.
  • Interactions with Medications: Creatine can interact with various medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), diuretics, Tagamet (cimetidine), and probenecid, leading to adverse effects.

Who Should Avoid Creatine

Specific groups should exercise caution or avoid creatine supplementation altogether due to potential health risks and the lack of extensive research regarding its safety for these populations.

  • Children and Adolescents: The safety of creatine usage in children and adolescents is not well-established. Because their bodies are still developing, the long-term impact of creatine on growth and development remains unclear.
  • Pregnancy and Nursing: Creatine supplementation is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women. There is limited research on the effects on fetal development or its presence in breast milk, which poses potential risks to the baby.
  • Medical Conditions: Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, especially those related to the kidneys, liver, or heart, should consult with doctor before starting creatine.
  • Neurological Diseases: Although some studies suggest potential benefits of creatine in neurological conditions due to its energy-modulating properties, individuals with neurological diseases should approach creatine use with caution and seek medical advice due to the complex nature of these conditions.
  • Hormonal Changes and Radiation Therapy: People undergoing treatment that involves hormonal changes or radiation therapy should avoid creatine. Creatine metabolism might interact unpredictably with hormonal therapy, and there is insufficient research on the interaction of creatine with radiation treatment.


Creatine supplements, like all dietary supplements, fall under the regulatory guidelines set by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). This act, enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), allows supplements to be marketed without prior FDA approval of their safety and efficacy.

However, manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their products are safe and that any claims made about them are substantiated by evidence. They must comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to ensure the quality and purity of their products.

To assist consumers in navigating the supplement market, several independent organizations conduct tests to verify the quality of supplements.,, and the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) offer testing services that evaluate supplements to check if they contain the ingredients listed on the label, are free from harmful contaminants, and are manufactured properly. Products that pass these assessments are given a seal of approval from the respective organization, providing a level of assurance to consumers about the product's quality.

Within the scientific and athletic communities, the efficacy and safety of creatine have been extensively evaluated through peer-refereed publications and evidence-based research. Meta-analyses and systematic reviews regularly assess the wealth of data available to provide clear guidelines on the effective and safe use of creatine. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has also issued position stands based on comprehensive reviews of the literature, affirming creatine's safety profile and recommending it for both athletic and health benefits, provided it is used correctly.

These combined efforts ensure that while the FDA does not regulate supplements as strictly as pharmaceuticals, there are still significant resources and guidelines available to help ensure that creatine supplements meet safety standards and are effective for use.


Is Creatine a Steroid

No, creatine is not a steroid. Creatine is a natural substance that is found in small amounts in certain foods and is also produced by the body in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. It helps muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise. Creatine is classified as a dietary supplement in the United States and is not a controlled substance like anabolic steroids.

How Long Does Creatine Take to Work

The time it takes for creatine to show its effects can vary depending on several factors, including the individual's initial creatine stores, their muscle mass, diet, and the intensity of their exercise regime. Generally, the effects of creatine can be noticed in two phases: the loading phase and the maintenance phase.

  • Loading Phase: This is an optional but common practice where an individual takes a higher dose of creatine, typically around 20 grams per day. The purpose of this phase is to rapidly saturate the muscles with creatine, allowing you to see performance benefits more quickly. Many users report noticing increased muscle size and enhanced strength and endurance within a week during this phase.
  • Maintenance Phase: After the loading phase, the dosage is reduced to about 3-5 grams per day. This amount is sufficient to maintain the elevated creatine levels in the muscles. If the loading phase is skipped, reaching maximum creatine saturation will take longer—usually around 3-4 weeks of consistent daily intake at the maintenance dose.

The visible effects, such as increased muscle bulk and improved endurance and strength, typically become apparent after the muscles have been fully saturated with creatine. This can be as soon as after the loading phase or a few weeks into regular supplementation if no loading phase is undertaken.

Does Creatine Give You Energy

Yes, creatine does contribute to increased energy levels, especially during high-intensity activities. It functions primarily by increasing the availability of phosphocreatine in the muscles. Phosphocreatine is a form of stored energy in muscle cells that helps regenerate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the most basic form of energy in your body’s cells.

During short bursts of intense physical activity like sprinting or weightlifting, your body relies on ATP to keep muscles moving. Normally, ATP supplies are quickly depleted, but having higher phosphocreatine stores means your body can replenish ATP more quickly. This process enhances your ability to perform high-intensity exercise for longer periods before fatigue sets in, effectively increasing your energy capacity for these types of activities.

Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight

Yes, creatine can lead to weight gain, but the nature of this gain is important to understand. The weight gain associated with creatine is typically desirable for those looking to build muscle. It is not usually characterized by fat gain, provided that the individual maintains a balanced diet and a regular exercise regimen. For athletes and bodybuilders aiming to increase muscle mass, the weight gain from both water retention and muscle growth is generally seen as a positive outcome of creatine supplementation.

How to Properly Take Creatine

To optimize the benefits of creatine, consider starting with a loading phase where you take 20 grams daily, divided into four 5-gram doses, for about 5-7 days to quickly saturate your muscles. After this, reduce the dosage to a maintenance level of 3-5 grams per day. While the timing of intake can be flexible, consuming creatine close to your workout—either before or after—might enhance its uptake due to increased blood flow to the muscles. Mixing creatine with a carbohydrate-rich drink may also aid absorption. Remember to increase your water intake to counteract any potential dehydration from creatine’s effects on water retention in the muscles.