Fitness has never been bigger and everyone wants to look like the shredded Instagram ad that’s been following them around for weeks. The right supplements can certainly help you achieve some of your #fitgoals. But before you even start hitting the weights and downing the shakes, you’ve got to ask yourself, “What popular workout supplements cause hair loss?” Because word on the street is that some of them do! Of course, you can’t always trust what you hear on the street.
Some people worry that protein shakes cause hair loss. This is not the case. If anything, protein shakes may be a form of hair loss prevention by providing you with the nutrition you need to keep your mane thick. Instead, the real concern is with supplements that are added to protein powder.
Creatine is popular among gym-goers because it can provide increased energy and aid in muscle growth, but does it cause hair loss? The thinking goes that creatine increases the amount of testosterone in your bloodstream. If you know the answer to the question, “What is DHT and does it impact hair loss?” then you know that dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is what you get when testosterone is exposed to the enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase, and that those who are genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness (AKA androgenetic alopecia) will begin to experience hair loss if this reaction occurs within the hair follicle’s oil glands. More testosterone equals more hair loss, right? Not quite!
Currently, only one study has been conducted on the subject. In 2009, The Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine wrote that three weeks of creatine monohydrate supplementation affects dihydrotestosterone to testosterone ratio in college-aged rugby players. The problem with this study, however, is that it only used 20 participants and even then its conclusion was inconclusive and suggested further investigation.
DHEA is a supplement some people take because it supposedly provides general athletic improvement. Like creatine, the supplement DHEA is rumored to contribute to male pattern baldness, and the route by which androgenetic alopecia would occur is the same: DHEA would raise the amount of testosterone in your blood, which would lead to those who are predisposed to male pattern baldness to start losing hair due to the presence of DHT. The logic checks out, but the evidence just isn’t there.
A 1987 study by the Journal of the Academy of Dermatology identified serum elevation of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) associated with male pattern baldness in young men. When writing about Dehydroepiandrosterone and Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate, the University of Rochester Medical Center explains that DHEA is turned into DHEA-S when it’s processed by your liver and adrenal glands. Every participant in the study was experiencing male pattern baldness and also had elevated DHEA-S, so the authors inferred that adrenal hyperactivity may be the culprit behind male pattern baldness among those who are genetically predisposed to androgenetic alopecia. See how the scientists covered all their bases by using the word “may”?
There have been no studies testing whether or not simply taking DHEA supplements causes hair loss. Of course, you can always be your own scientist by ceasing to take DHEA if you notice your hairline receding. If ending consumption makes your hair loss stop then maybe DHEA was responsible.
And if you’re struggling with hair loss regardless of supplement intake, check out how scalp micropigmentation can give you the look of a short buzz cut. No more long stares in the gym mirror trying to fix your combover or worrying about the caboki drip due to sweat.