Alpha GPC (L-Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine, choline alfoscerate) is a choline source derived from soy or sunflower lecithin. It is also naturally present in small amounts in your body.
Alpha GPC is more bioavailable than other sources of choline for brain benefits. Unlike choline citrate or choline bitartrate, it easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. This makes Alpha GPC a preferred choline source with experienced nootropic users.
Alpha GPC helps:
- Brain Energy. Alpha GPC improves mood, and boosts mental energy. The extra choline can increase alertness and clarity of thought.
- Neurotransmitters. Alpha GPC is prized for its ability to improve memory. Its high bioavailability makes it a great source of choline for producing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
- Brain Optimization. Alpha GPC boosts the development of new brain cells. And enhances your brain’s ability to repair damaged cell membranes.
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Alpha GPC is a type of choline that’s produced in small amounts in your body. You can also get it from eating organ meats, dairy and wheat germ.
Choline is considered an essential nutrient because when your body uses it faster than it can produce it, you need supplemental choline either from food or a supplement.
You need choline for the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. And to form phosphatidylcholine (PC), used in building cell membranes.
Alpha GPC is used throughout your body. It even helps the production of human growth hormone. Athletes use it for peak performance, and to help build lean muscle mass. It provides more energy for a workout and quicker recovery.[i]
Here we’re talking about how Alpha GPC affects your brain health and chemistry.
Alpha GPC vs. CDP-Choline vs. Choline Bitartrate: What’s the Difference?
CDP-Choline (cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine): Is only about 18% choline by weight. Your body naturally synthesizes choline into CDP-Choline (Citicoline). It’s then converted to phosphatidylcholine (PC) which assists cell membranes, and helps create acetylcholine.
Choline Bitartrate: An economical form of choline, and about 40% choline by weight. So 1 gram of Choline Bitartrate offers 400 mg of actual choline. It does not easily cross the blood-brain barrier. So you won’t experience the same level of nootropic benefits as with Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline.
Alpha GPC: About 40% choline by weight and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. Alpha GPC naturally occurs in your brain as a byproduct of phosphatidylcholine (PC). When your brain needs more choline, and the choline floating around in your brain is running low, it breaks down PC from cell membranes. And turns it into Alpha GPC.
Your body and brain loves it when you use Alpha GPC. Because it doesn’t have to cannibalize its own cells to get more choline.
How does Alpha GPC Work in the Brain?
Alpha GPC boosts brain health and function in several ways. But two in particular stand out.
- Alpha GPC boosts acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter tied to memory and overall brain function. Alpha GPC is a precursor to acetylcholine. Improving the efficiency of communications between neurons in your brain. This increase in neural signaling boosts memory, learning, cognitive processing and mental clarity.
In one study, 32 healthy volunteers received either Alpha GPC or a placebo as a pretreatment. Ten days later they were injected with scopolamine to induce amnesia. The researchers found Alpha GPC was able to prevent the impairment of attention and memory normally caused by scopolamine.[ii]
These researchers showed that memory function in young healthy people could be racked up a notch. Simply by taking Alpha GPC as a supplement.
- Alpha GPC directly impacts development of cell membranes in the cerebral cortex. This outer layer of neural tissues or “gray matter” is the information processing center of your brain. It controls intelligence, motor function, organization, personality, planning and touch.[iii]
Published in Clinical Therapeutics, researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s patients. 400 mg capsules were administered 3- times per day for 180 days. The conclusion of this trial showed consistent improvement in dementia patients given Alpha GPC.[iv]
How things go bad
As we get older, our brain chemistry and energy metabolism changes.
↓ Recall, reaction time and mood diminish
↓ Brain cell membranes degenerate
↓ Acetylcholine levels decline[v]
↓ Nerve growth factor in the brain declines
All of these age-related changes are contributing factors to the neurodegenerative diseases of aging, including Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Alpha GPC benefits
Research from hundreds of studies have shown that Alpha GPC will:
- Improve memory and learning ability[vi]
- Restore the bioavailability of acetylcholine[vii]
- Restore and boost nerve growth factor receptors in the brain[viii]
- Increase growth hormones in all age groups[ix]
- Boost cognitive performance and memory in Alzheimer’s patients[x]
Alpha GPC is water-soluble and quickly enters your brain after you take it. Once in your brain, it boosts signal transmission, and protects neurons.
Alpha GPC improves your brain function and learning processes by directly increasing synthesis and secretion of acetylcholine. As your body calls for it.
This form of choline is not a precursor to phosphatidylcholine (PC), but is a metabolite of PC. This means once PC is metabolized and stripped of its fatty acids – all that remains is Alpha GPC.
Instead of scavenging your brain’s own membranes for Alpha GPC, you give it exactly the type of choline its looking for.
How does Alpha GPC feel?
If you have trouble getting started in the morning, try coffee and 400 mg of Alpha GPC. Instead of your usual high sugar, high carbohydrate breakfast.
Alpha GPC helps with memory, mood, mental performance and energy. Its brain support and ability to fuel the acetylcholine in your brain cells should boost cognition in all age and gender groups.
Alpha GPC Clinical Research
In one study, researchers showed that Alpha GPC had positive effects for increasing human growth hormone.[xi]
Alpha GPC Increases the Release of Dopamine
Another trial demonstrated the increase in the release of dopamine.[xii] This is particularly significant in showing Alpha GPC can help those suffering from dopamine deficiencies. And alleviating the symptoms of diseases like depressive disorders and Parkinson’s Disease.
Alpha GPC Facilitates Learning and Memory
An ongoing trial demonstrates Alpha GPC improving memory and attention. This research shows Alpha GPC increasing the effectiveness of pairing it with donepezil (acetylcholinesterase inhibitor). Far better than using donepezil on its own.
Alpha GPC Relieves Cognitive Impairment in Alzheimer’s
Thirteen published clinical trials, involving a total of 4,054 Alzheimer’s patients consistently showed Alpha GPC:[xv]
- Boosted memory and attention
- Promoted recovery in stroke patients
- Reversed the symptoms of acute cerebrovascular disease
- Is far more effective than using choline or lecithin in treating disease
Alpha GPC Recommended Dosage
Alpha GPC is about 40% choline by weight. So 1,000 mg of Alpha GPC provides approximately 400 mg of choline.
- Alpha GPC suggested dosage for cognitive benefits is 400 – 1,200 mg per day.
- Athletic training suggested dosage of Alpha GPC is 400 mg first thing in the morning, and another 400 mg dose 15 – 30 minutes before working out.
- Clinical treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia and other cognitive disorders dosage of up to 1,200 mg per day.
For higher dosages, split the daily Alpha GPC total into 2 or 3 doses per day. For example, 1,200 mg would be taken 400 mg at a time.
Alpha GPC Side Effects
Alpha GPC is produced naturally in your body. So is considered well-tolerated and safe.
Side effects are rare but can include fatigue, headaches, nervousness, nausea, diarrhea and gastrointestinal issues. This is often an indication you have too much choline in your body.
Because Alpha GPC causes an energy boost in many neurohackers, avoid dosing in the evening. Or you may have difficulty getting to sleep.
A very recent study published in 2021 including more than 12 million individuals aged 50 years or older who used Alpha GPC for at least 10 years had a 46% increased chance of stroke. So for short-term use Alpha GPC is safe. But if you need a choline supplement for long-term use you may want to consider switching to CDP-Choline (Citicoline).
Type of Alpha GPC to buy
Because Alpha GPC tends to liquefy at 99-100%, many suppliers offer 50% Alpha GPC powder combined with 50% of a filler like silicon dioxide. Adjust your dosage accordingly.
AlphaSize® is a patented form of Alpha GPC manufactured by Chemi Nutra which is the U.S. business unit of parent company Chemi S.p.A., a privately held pharmaceutical and nutraceutical company based in Milan, Italy. They have cGMP certified manufacturing facilities in Italy and Brazil.
Alpha GPC is made from soy or sunflower lecithin. So if you’re trying to avoid soy in your diet look for A-GPC “no soy” or labeled as derived from sunflower lecithin.
Nootropics Expert Recommendation
Alpha GPC 400 – 1,200 mg per day
Your body does make some Alpha GPC on its own. And from the food you eat. But studies have shown we don’t get an adequate supply of choline from food sources in our modern diet.
Alpha GPC is especially helpful for those suffering from age-related cognitive decline. Studies show it helps stop or reverse brain degeneration like Alzheimer’s Disease, and other cognitive disorders. Particularly in the early to mid-stages of the disease.
We suggest starting with a dose of 400 mg daily. And Alpha GPC is a great compliment to a stack including any nootropic from the racetam-family. Anything that causes an increase in uptake of acetylcholine in your brain.
You need to provide your brain with the choline it is demanding. Or it starts cannibalizing your own brain cells for more acetylcholine. Signs that you’re lacking adequate choline are headaches.
Use Alpha GPC at a ratio of 1:4. For example, 400 mg of Alpha GPC to 1,600 mg of a racetam like Piracetam.
Age-related cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s may want to up the dose to 1,200 mg per day.
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