Your body makes creatine from amino acids derived from foods you eat. Creatine as a supplement has become popular among bodybuilders seeking to build muscle mass without adding body fat. Creatine also increases endurance and strength. Though popular, creatine can cause side effects to your hair.


Function

Creatine is stored in the muscles as phosphocreatine, which acts as a reserve energy source for the muscles. Muscles get their energy to contract from adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Once the ATP is used up, it loses a phosphate molecule and becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP). When a muscle runs out of ATP, it searches for a new source of energy. The body then recreates its ATP by taking a phosphate molecule from phosphocreatine and bonding it to ADP to create ATP. This works faster than glycolysis, which uses carbs and sugars to create ATP from scratch.

Benefits

Creatine is a popular supplement because it works. It provides more energy during a workout and decreased burn from lactic acid. Creatine helps you gain weight quickly because it retains water in your muscles, giving them a swelled look. It delays workout fatigue, so you don’t have to rest as much between sets.


Hair Side Effects

Much is still unknown about the side effects of creatine. Some of the suspected side effects, though, include hair loss in men and an increase in body hair in women. Reports of these side effects remain anecdotal because different studies have supported or refuted the side effect. “Some unexplained side effects may be merely rumor and arise from creatine being mistakenly associated with anabolic steroids. On the other hand, other incidences of unexplained side effects may be real and stem from contaminants or additives present in cheaper brands of creatine,” according to the Creatine Information Center.


Other Side Effects

Though a natural substance, creatine may also cause anxiety, breathing difficulty, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, headache, kidney problems, nausea, vomiting or rashes.


Cautions

Since creatine is a supplement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate it. This means the purity of the creatine you buy could vary greatly between manufacturers. Creatine may also interact with other medications, such as aspirin, diabetic medication and diuretics. If you take prescription medications, talk to your doctor about possible interactions with creatine before taking a supplement.