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 is a precursor to the essential neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
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.
Table of Contents
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.
In fact, choline is so vital to cognition and nerve function that, without it, we couldn’t move, think, sleep or remember anything.
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?
Choline is a water-soluble nutrient and its composition is similar to B-vitamins. Alpha GPC, CDP-Choline, Choline Citrate and Choline Bitartrate are all sources of choline.
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.
But even if you’re not concerned with the effects of aging, Alpha GPC can help.
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 can be a great way to boost your energy. Take it 45 minutes before you work out.
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.
And in rats, Alpha GPC boosted learning and memory. It increased brain energy mechanisms and decreased age-related structural changes in the brain.[xiii][xiv]
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
I recommend using Alpha GPC as a nootropic supplement.
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.
[i] Ziegenfuss T., Landis J. Hofheins J. “Acute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exercise” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 20085(Suppl 1):P15 (source)
[ii] Canal N., Franceschi M., Alberoni M., Castiglioni C., De Moliner P., Longoni A. “Effect of L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine on amnesia caused by scopolamine.” International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy, Toxicology. 1991 Mar;29(3):103-7. (source)
[iii] Kidd P.M. “Neurodegeneration from mitochondrial insufficiency: nutrients, stem cells, growth factors, and prospects for brain rebuilding using integrative management.” Alternative Medicine Review 2005 Dec;10(4):268-93. (source)
[iv] De Jesus Moreno Moreno M. “Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.” Clinical Therapeutics 2003 Jan;25(1):178-93. (source)
[v] Cohen B.M., Renshaw P.F., Stoll A.L., Wurtman R.J., Yurgelun-Todd D., Babb S.M. “Decreased brain choline uptake in older adults. An in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study.” JAMA 1995 Sep 20;274(11):902-7. (source)
[vi] Drago F., Mauceri F., Nardo L., Valerio C., Lauria N., Rampello L., Guidi G. “Behavioral effects of L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine: influence on cognitive mechanisms in the rat.” Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 1992 Feb;41(2):445-8. (source)
[vii] Bronzetti E., Felici L., Amenta F. “Effect of ipsilateral lesioning of the nucleus basalis magnocellularis and of L-alpha-glyceryl phosphorylcholine treatment on choline acetyltransferase and acetylcholinesterase in the rat fronto-parietal cortex.” Neuroscience Letters 1993 Dec 24;164(1-2):47-50 (source)
[viii] Vega J.A., Cavallotti C., del Valle M.E., Mancini M., Amenta F. “Nerve growth factor receptor immunoreactivity in the cerebellar cortex of aged rats: effect of choline alfoscerate treatment.” Mechanisms of Ageing and Development 1993 Jun;69(1-2):119-27. (source)
[ix] Ceda G.P., Ceresini G., Denti L., Marzani G., Piovani E., Banchini A., Tarditi E., Valenti G. “alpha-Glycerylphosphorylcholine administration increases the GH responses to GHRH of young and elderly subjects.”Hormone and Metabolic Research 1992 Mar;24(3):119-21 (source)
[x] Parnetti L., Abate G., Bartorelli L., Cucinotta D., Cuzzupoli M., Maggioni M., Villardita C., Senin U. “Multicentre study of l-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine vs ST200 among patients with probable senile dementia of Alzheimer’s type.” Drugs Aging 1993 Mar-Apr;3(2):159-64 (source)
[xi] Ceda G.P., Ceresini G., Denti L., Magnani D., Marchini L, Valenti G., Hoffman A.R. “Effects of cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine administration on basal and growth hormone-releasing hormone-induced growth hormone secretion in elderly subjects.” Acta Endocrinologica (Copenhagen).1991;124(5):516-20. (source)
[xii] Trabucchi M., Govoni S., Battaini F. “Changes in the interaction between CNS cholinergic and dopaminergic neurons induced by L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, a cholinomimetic drug.” Farmaco Sci.1986 Apr;41(4):325-34. (source)
[xiii] Traini E., Bramanti V., Amenta F. “Choline alphoscerate (alpha-glyceryl-phosphoryl-choline) an old choline- containing phospholipid with a still interesting profile as cognition enhancing agent.” Current Alzheimer’s Research 2013 Dec;10(10):1070-9. (source)
[xiv] Florio T., Bajetto A., Thellung S., Arena S., Corsaro A., Bonavia R., Merlino M., Schettini G. “Prolonged treatment with α-glycerylphosphorylethanolamine facilitates the acquisition of an active avoidance behavior and selectively increases neuronal signal transduction in rats” Aging Clinical and Experimental Research October 1999, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 335-342 (source)
[xv] Parnetti L., Amenta F., Gallai V. “Choline alphoscerate in cognitive decline and in acute cerebrovascular disease: an analysis of published clinical data.” Mechanisms of Ageing and Development 2001 Nov;122(16):2041-55. (source)
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Sonja Strazisar says
I cannot legally obtain Alpha GPC / CDP Choline nor PS in Slovenia and will be obtaining Aniracetam soon. My question is can I use Now Foods Sunflower Lecithin to take with the Aniracetam?
If not, what would you suggest?
I thank you for all your help
David Tomen says
Sonja, it depends on how much choline is in the NOW Foods supplement. I suggest contacting NOW and asking them. Because if you try Aniracetam and get a racetam-headache it is because your brain does not have enough acetylcholine.
Sonja Strazisar says
I was able to find out that Now Sunflower Lecithin contains 2.4g(2.400mg)
of phosphatidyl choline. How much would you suggest taking with the aniracetam?
appreciate your help
David Tomen says
Sonja, 2400 mg should be plenty. If you get a headache then you’ll know you need more.
Thanks so much for your excellent resource, I research here a lot!
I just discovered there’s a 99% pharmaceutical grade Alpha GPC, supposedly twice as potent than the standard 50% made from lecithin.
Just as I was going to ask your opinion on that, I fell down the rabbit hole of the 2021 study on possible long term risks (stroke, TMAO) of Alpha GPC. I believe the overall view is we need more study on this, but in the meantime, I’m planning to swap my dose of Alpha GPC to CDP Choline.
I’m really sad to give Alpha GPC up, but I’m a 72 yr old woman + vascular is one of my vulnerable systems, so I fear stroke. Thoughts?
David Tomen says
Elly, CDP-Choline is a very effective supplement and seems to be safer for long-term use.
Thanks for responding. Since then, I’ve read through a lot of perspective on that study, and now I’m comfortable with Alpha GPC.
Or maybe there just haven’t been studies yet, suddenly taking more than necessary cycotylene also increases the likelihood of a stroke.
David Tomen says
John, there is a long-term very large clinical study done in Japan that showed long-term use of Alpha GPC increased the chance of stroke by 47%. Better to use CDP-Choline long-term if you need the choline.
Debra Stein says
Hi, I am on a antidepressant, any of these supplements interfere with these? I also have hashimoto’s . Feel like I have a lot of poison, candida or something wrong with me. Does any of these supplements bad for me or ones that may be good for me? Thanks for any help you can give me.
David Tomen says
Debra, each supplement review includes a Side Effects section that tells you if that supplement is contraindicated with antidepressants or other drugs. Same with thyroid problems.
Hi, my mother has alzheimer’s, she is in her mid 80’s and takes 10mg of aricept daily.
Can she take Alpha GPC with it and are there any other supplements that you would suggest for her to take with her condition?
David Tomen says
Ben, Aricept is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor which means it forces your brain to reuse the acetylcholine that is already present in your brain. Alpha GPC increase acetylcholine which means it would potentiate the way Aricept works. So be careful with it. There are plenty of other natural acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. Just search this website for the keyword “acetylcholinesterase”.
And see the Alzheimer’s section of this article for more ideas: https://nootropicsexpert.com/best-nootropics-for-the-aging-brain/
I came across this article https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28035924/
But had concerns, as you pointed out.
David Tomen says
Ben, good study that I was not aware of. Thanks.
Sorry, my English isn’t very good. I have a question. Alpha GPC: About 40% choline by weight, and CDP-Choline (cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine): Is only about 18% choline by weight. Why Recommended Dosage: 400 mg of Alpha GPC to 1,600 mg of a racetam like Piracetam, and 250 mg of Citicoline to 1 gram of Aniracetam or 4 grams of Piracetam. I can’t understand. Please help me understanding about that. Thank you a lot.
David Tomen says
Alpha GPC gets to your brain faster but is also used faster compared to CDP-Choline. The other thing is dosages are based on clinical studies as well as user experience. Those dosage recommendations are based on that and not its choline content by weight.
Just wondering if Alpha GPC (or Choline supps in general) can have a negative impact on other nootropics?
Have had some success recently for improving my depressive Vyvanse crashes with pairing a B Complex and low range Tyrosine doses (100-150mg) and decided to test adding a low Alpha GPC dose (50-100mg) to that combo.
I found that adding a tiny amount of Alpha GPC seemed to just overpower my usual positive experience and left me sleepy and wiped out. Having Alpha GPC by itself previously (100-200mg) led to a similar reaction but not as bad.
Just wondering if this could be a negative interaction thing, a too low a dose of Alpha GPC thing, or even a too high amount of Choline in my system thing?
I looked up food sources high in Choline and found that I’m having a lot of them throughout my day (plus my B Complex tablet has a bit of Choline in it too).
Thanks a bunch for all the help so far mate 🙂
David Tomen says
James, it sounds like you already have enough acetylcholine in your system. Alpha GPC pushes it over the edge. You may need to avoid anything that directly increases acetylcholine levels any further.
Thanks for that.
I came across a Reddit comment saying that certain supplements/herbs can inhibit Acetylcholinesterase, leading to excess acetylcholine.
Things they said inhibit Acetylcholinesterase included Ginseng, Ginkgo, Bacopa; all of which I’ve tried previously and all of which seemed to have a similar wiped out feeling as the Alpha GPC did.
Do you know if there’s any merit to these claims?
Also, do you know if there’s anything one could take to lower acetylcholine and/or reduce excess acetylcholine?
David Tomen says
James, the only supplements I know of that can help ‘reduce’ acetylcholine in your brain are any of the racetams.
I saw in another comment on this page you mentioned needing Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) as cofactors with Alpha GPC to make acetylcholine.
Does that mean that I would need to take a Vitamin B complex at the same time as Alpha GPC in order to get the benefits from Alpha GPC? Or did you mean something else by that comment?
Also, is Alpha GPC (with or without Vitamin B complex) safe to take with Vyvanse? Meaning as in taking it towards the end of my dose, rather than at the same time.
David Tomen says
James, Vyvanse will likely work better if you are using Alpha GPC because not enough acetylcholine is a very common problem with ADD and ADHD. But here again you need the cofactors of Vitamins B1 and B5 to make it work.
I use this B-Complex (https://nootropicsexpert.com/go/life-extension-bioactive-b-complex/) which is two capsules. I take one capsule in the morning and one at noon and that keeps a steady level of B-Vitamins in my system for the day.
Thanks for the follow up and the suggestions.
When you say Vyvanse will likely work better with Alpha GPC, do you mean as in taking them together, as in if you take Alpha GPC at various points during your dose (e.g. splitting doses throughout the day), or as in when your Vyvanse is starting to wear off?
Given you take that B-Complex twice a day, I suppose it wouldn’t matter whether I was to take a B-Complex together with the Alpha GPC or earlier in the day so long as it was in my system?
Also, I saw something about how DHA and Choline work in synergy and are a good combination to pair together. Any merit to that to your knowledge?
Thanks again 🙂
David Tomen says
James, as long as you keep a steady flow of the B-Vitamins in your system during the day you have the cofactors to make dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and acetylcholine. The latter is your signaling neurotransmitter and it works in support of each of the others.
Alpha GPC has a shorter half-life so you need to use it 3-times per day for a steady flow of acetylcholine. Alpha GPC is where you get your choline from to make acetylcholine.
DHA keeps your brain cell membranes healthy which supports the flow of all of those neurotransmitters.
hi david, I have been looking at all your resources for the last two weeks and am really grateful to have found you. I am just about ready to order my TBI nootropic stack but have been struggling with finding the right dosage and ratio of cdp-choline and noopept within their suggested ranges. what do you recommend?
thank you for your knowledge
David Tomen says
Ilva, dosage recommendations are including in each of my reviews. Scroll down this list to find links to each review: https://nootropicsexpert.com/nootropics-list/