Alpha GPC and athletic performance

Alpha GPC

David Tomen
Author:
David Tomen
10 minute read
Alpha GPC has been shown to reverse age-related cognitive impairment, improve memory and learning, and boost athletic workouts.

Key Takeaways

  1. Alpha GPC (L-Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine) is a choline source derived from soy or sunflower lecithin and is naturally present in the body.
  2. It is highly bioavailable and can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, making it a preferred choline source for brain benefits in nootropic users.
  3. As a precursor to acetylcholine, it enhances brain energy, mood, mental clarity, and memory.
  4. Alpha GPC supports brain health by boosting acetylcholine levels, aiding brain cell membrane development, and increasing dopamine release.
  5. Recommended dosage for cognitive benefits ranges from 300 to 1,200 mg per day, and while generally safe, potential side effects include fatigue, headaches, and gastrointestinal issues.

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.

Overview

Alpha-GPC chemical structure
Alpha GPC

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]

Alpha GPC can boost athletic performance

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.

Alpha GPC vs CDP-CholineCholine 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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]

Alpha GPC increases brain cell signaling

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 supports optimal brain cognitive function in all age and gender groups

Alpha GPC benefits

There are many benefits of Alpha GPC. 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 boost memory, mood, mental performance and energy

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

Alpha GPC boosts focus and memoryAn 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 Decline and Impairment in Alzheimer’s

Thirteen published clinical trials, involving a total of 4,054 Alzheimer’s patients consistently showed Alpha GPC:[xv]

  • Improved cognitive function, 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

Recommended Alpha GPC  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 300 – 1,200 mg per day.
  • Athletic training suggested dosage of Alpha GPC is 300 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) like I did once I read that study.

Type of Alpha GPC Supplement 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® and CholineAid® are a Kosher Certified, Halal Certified, USP grade, NDI, GRAS-affirmed, patented forms 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. The company has cGMP certified manufacturing facilities in Italy and Brazil.

Nootropics Expert Recommendation

Alpha GPC 300 – 1,200 mg per day

Nootropics Expert Tested and ApprovedI recommend using Alpha GPC as a nootropic dietary 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 dietary 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.

I 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.

Take Alpha GPC at a ratio of 1:4. For example, 400 mg of Alpha GPC dose to 1,600 mg of a racetam like Piracetam.

How much Alpha GPC you should take will depend on your situation.

Age-related cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s may want to up the dose to 1,200 mg of Alpha GPC per day.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

[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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Join The Discussion - 212 comments

Jenny
September 6, 2023

Why might Alpha GPC or phosphatidylcholine lower blood pressure in some people?

    David Tomen
    September 6, 2023

    Jenny, those are not known side effects for either supplement.

Dan
July 1, 2023

Alpha GPC helps to restore brain phospholipids?

    David Tomen
    July 2, 2023

    Dan, to restore brain phospholipids you need DHA and PS. Not Alpha GPC.

Ipa
May 20, 2023

Depressed after taking Alpha GPC supplement

Hi David, I tried taking different doses, from 100-350 mg, and each time I took this supplement I started to feel deeply depressed. I literally cried for hours, and felt hopeless. I am not depressed, and didnt have similar episodes before, so that was very weird and scary experience.
Did not make connection at first, but noticed I feel that way after taking the supplement.

Interestingly I had the similar experience after trying choline and saffran (each one separately).

Do you know why this happened?
Thanks

    David Tomen
    June 5, 2023

    Ipa, acetylcholine and serotonin have an inverse relationship in your brain. Too much of one suppresses the other and vice versa. So it could be that you suppressed serotonin.

    Try this… use 100 – 200 mg Alpha GPC and 250 mg L-Tryptophan. And see how you feel. If the same thing happens then I don’t know other than Alpha GPC is the wrong supplement for you.

Rese
April 12, 2023

So can we get enough alpha-GPC from food so that the brain doesn’t destroy brain membranes to synthesize it? And I’m also wondering if citicoline can increase alpha-GPC levels? Or, more specifically, even if we are not deficient in alpha-GPC, what is the precursor for making alpha-GPC? Or is the PC from the cell membranes still broken down to synthesize it, but with sufficient levels it is less pronounced?

    David Tomen
    April 18, 2023

    Rese, 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. And if you do not eat enough organ meat or dairy you’ll not get enough choline to make Alpha GPC. Which is why it is best to take it as a supplement. Or use CDP-Choline for your choline source long-term.

      Rese
      April 26, 2023

      But citicoline will not increase alpha hpc, nor will taking phosphatidylcholine, isn’t alpha hpc found in food? If we have sufficient levels of phosphatidylcholine/choline, the body does not produce alpha gpc?

        David Tomen
        April 26, 2023

        Rese, 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 phosphatidylcholine from cell membranes. And turns it into Alpha GPC. The best way to stop this cannibalism of your cell membranes is by supplementing with Alpha GPC OR phosphatidylcholine (PC).

Sonja Strazisar
February 5, 2023

Hello David,

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
    February 9, 2023

    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
      February 13, 2023

      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?
      Thank you,
      appreciate your help

        David Tomen
        February 13, 2023

        Sonja, 2400 mg should be plenty. If you get a headache then you’ll know you need more.

Elly
December 29, 2022

Hi David,
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
    January 13, 2023

    Elly, CDP-Choline is a very effective supplement and seems to be safer for long-term use.

      Elly
      January 15, 2023

      Thanks for responding. Since then, I’ve read through a lot of perspective on that study, and now I’m comfortable with Alpha GPC.

      John
      February 6, 2023

      Or maybe there just haven’t been studies yet, suddenly taking more than necessary cycotylene also increases the likelihood of a stroke.

        David Tomen
        February 9, 2023

        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
November 20, 2022

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
    November 28, 2022

    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.

Ben
October 25, 2022

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?

Thank you.

    David Tomen
    October 26, 2022

    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/

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