CDP Choline in capsules or powder

CDP-Choline

David Tomen
Author:
David Tomen
11 minute read
CDP-Choline is known to increase cognition and brain function, improve focus and motivation, and reduce fatigue

CDP-Choline (Cytidine Diphosphate Choline or cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine) is also known as Citicoline. This naturally occurring choline source is present in every cell in your body.

CDP-Choline is unique as a choline source. Once it’s digested it separates into cytidine and choline. When it gets to your brain it converts back to CDP-Choline.

This choline is needed to synthesize the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh). ACh is a primary neurotransmitter released by neurons. This electrical signaling between neurons is involved in memory, learning, cognition and recall.

Cytidine is a component of Ribonucleic acid (RNA). This molecule is involved in coding, decoding, regulation and the expression of genes. But once it gets into the brain, it converts to uridine.

The signaling going on between neurons tends to grab choline molecules from cell membranes when choline is in short supply. This is where uridine steps in. It repairs those same cell membranes. To maintain neuron integrity.

 CDP-Choline helps:

  • Brain Optimization: CDP-Choline provides uridine once it enters in the brain. Uridine repairs, rebuilds and re-supplies the components needed for neuron repair. To keep signaling between neurons optimized for memory, learning, cognition and recall.
  • Neurotransmitters: CDP-Choline enhances the release of norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine in the brain.[i] [ii]
  • Brain Energy: CDP-Choline increases Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in brain cells. ATP is produced in your mitochondria and your main source of cellular energy.

Overview

CDP-Choline is a type of choline that is present in every cell in your body. You can also get it from eating organ meats like liver.

CDP-Choline
CDP-Choline

Choline is considered an essential nutrient because your body uses it faster than it can produce it. So you need to supplement 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.

CDP-Choline has the unique ability to convert to cytidine and choline once it passes through your digestive system. After it crosses the blood-brain barrier, it converts back to CDP-Choline.

The left-over cytidine in your blood can convert into uridine in your brain. Uridine is necessary for repairing cell membranes.

CDP-Choline is involved in memory and cognitive functions. And provides energy for the brain to conduct sustained mental effort.

CDP-Choline provides mental energy

CDP-Choline vs. Alpha GPC vs. Choline Bitartrate: What’s the Difference?

Choline is a water-soluble nutrient similar in composition to B-vitamins. CDP-Choline, Alpha GPC, Choline Citrate and Choline Bitartrate are all sources of choline.

CDP-Choline (cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine): Is about 18% choline by weight and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. Your body naturally synthesizes choline into CDP-Choline (Citicoline) in your brain.

Taken as a supplement, it’s then converted to cytidine and choline in your gut. Once it crosses the blood-brain barrier it’s converted back to CDP-Choline. The choline then assists cell membranes, and helps create acetylcholine.

CDP-Choline vs. Alpha GPCThe added benefit of CDP-Choline is with cytidine. Cytidine can convert into uridine which is critical in the brain. Uridine is needed to synthesize the phosphatidylcholine (PC) in neuron membranes. It helps repair neurons.

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 CDP-Choline Work in the Brain?

CDP-Choline boosts brain health and function in several ways. But two in particular stand out.

  1. CDP-Choline is metabolized in the gut wall and liver to form choline and cytidine. Once choline and cytidine cross the blood-barrier they re-synthesize back into CDP-Choline (Citicoline).[iii]

In the brain choline aids in the synthesis of acetylcholine. And the release of dopamine.[iv] Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter associated with memory and learning.

  1. CDP-Choline helps repair neural membranes. Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) in your brain. ACh carries nerve impulses across synapses. And then is broken down by enzymes.

ACh is then reassembled for reuse. But this breakdown/reassembly process isn’t foolproof. Some ACh gets lost in the process. So your brain goes looking for more choline to make ACh.

If there isn’t enough choline in your blood, it gets it from the phosphatidylcholine (PC) that makes up the outside of the cell membrane of your neurons. The PC in the cell membrane releases choline to help make acetylcholine.

When your neurons lose too much choline, they lose integrity. Nerve impulses break down, and cognitive abilities decline.[v]

CDP-Choline prevents cognitive declineScientists in the lab at MIT showed that this is where uridine steps in. The cytidine in CDP-Choline converts to uridine in your body. And it works as a bridge between choline and neuron membrane synthesis.

Uridine is needed to synthesize the PC in neuron membranes. It is first converted to CDP-Choline. Which is then synthesized into new PC. This new PC can then repair damaged neuron membranes. Membranes that were raided to make acetylcholine.[vi]

How things go bad

As we get older, our brain chemistry and energy metabolism changes. This can happen at any age once we enter our adult years.

↓ Brain cell membranes degenerate

↓ Recall, reaction time and mood diminish

↓ Acetylcholine levels decline[vii]

All of these changes can happen at any age. And our bodies are influenced by the food we eat, what we drink, lifestyle habits, the air we breathe and more.

So CDP-Choline can help for age-related cognitive decline, as well as a student looking to do better in school. By boosting acetylcholine and dopamine. And rebuilding neurons in the brain.

CDP Choline restores brain health

CDP-Choline benefits

Research from hundreds of studies have shown that CDP-Choline will:

  • Boost cognition[viii]
  • Increase brain energy and speed up formation of brain membranes[ix]
  • Boost production of acetylcholine[x]
  • Increase blood flow to the brain[xi]
  • Offset the harmful effects of stroke[xii]
  • Improve memory and learning ability[xiii]
  • Boost cognitive performance and memory in Alzheimer’s patients[xiv]

CDP-Choline is water-soluble and quickly enters your brain after you take it. In fact, studies show it has nearly 100% bioavailability in your body. Take it orally or intravenously and your body absorbs the same amount.

Once in your brain it boosts signal transmission, and repairs neurons. CDP-Choline improves your brain function and memory by directly increasing levels of acetylcholine and dopamine. And repairs neurons at the same time.

How does CDP-Choline feel?

The most profound indication of the power of this supplement is with those who have suffered a stroke.

Stroke survivors report that after continued usage of CDP-Choline, most of the noticeable effects of the stroke are gone. Including muscle paralysis and weakness.

CDP Choline helps memory and focusNeurohackers report they are better able to concentrate and focus. And experience a significant boost in cognition.

You can feel more mentally alert. And you may even ease the fatigue associated with clinical depression by using CDP-Choline.

Some use CDP-Choline as an alternative to the stimulants prescribed for ADHD.

CDP-Choline Clinical Research

In a study at the University of Utah, 75 healthy males were given 250 mg, 500 mg of CDP-Choline, or a placebo. Tests were recorded after 28 days of supplementation.

The adolescent males receiving 250 or 500 mg of CDP-Choline showed improved attention and psychomotor speed. And reduced impulsivity compared to adolescent males who received placebo.

This study indicates CDP-Choline is effective even in younger age groups. And can be particularly helpful to those dealing with ADHD.[xv]

CDP-Choline Enhances Cognition

A study published in Food and Nutrition Sciences assessed the potential cognitive-enhancing effects of Citicoline (CDP-Choline) in healthy, adult women.

This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial worked with 60 healthy women from 40 – 60 years old. Each volunteer was given a daily dose of 250 mg or 500 mg of Citicoline, or a placebo for 28 days.

The women who took either dose of Citicoline for 28 days showed a significant improvement in cognition.

The researchers suggested that Citicoline may improve attentional performance in middle-aged women. And it might eliminate the attention deficits associated with central nervous system disorders (i.e. ADHD).

CDP-Choline Improves Memory

Researchers in Japan studied 16 men and women who were given either 500 mg or 2000 mg of Citicoline for 6 weeks. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) was used to study the brains of the participants at the end of the study.

The research team found ATP in the neurons of those in the study increased by over 14%. And membrane phospholipids were boosted by over 32%. These finding were in specific areas of the brain associated with cognition. And the effect was even more pronounced in the group that received the lower dose of Citicoline.

The researchers concluded that Citicoline supplementation could help prevent cognitive decline associated with aging. Along with an increase in brain energy reserves and utilization. And an increase in the components needed to synthesize and maintain cell membranes.

CDP-Choline Recommended Dosage

Recommended CDP-Choline dosage is 250 – 500 mg per day. Taken no more than twice per day. Two daily doses would be one CDP-Choline dose in the morning, and one in the early afternoon.

If you’re adding CPD-Choline to your stack with a racetam, a typical ratio would be 250 mg of Citicoline to 1 gram of Aniracetam or 4 grams of Piracetam.

CDP-Choline Side Effects

Recommended dosages even for extended periods are considered well-tolerated and safe. While CDP-Choline is considered non-toxic, it is possible to experience toxicity with too much choline in your body.

If you experience trouble sleeping, headache, diarrhea, low or high blood pressure, nausea, blurred vision or chest pain – you should stop using CDP-Choline.

Type of CDP-Choline to Buy

CDP Choline in capsules or powderCDP-Choline is sold in capsule and powder form. Capsules are usually 250 – 500 mg each. 500 mg of CDP-Choline in powder form is equivalent to 2-level 1/8 tsp scoops.

Cognizin® is a patented, allergen-free, and water-soluble form of CDP-Choline shown in clinical trials to boost brain cell membrane formation by 26%. And increase brain energy by 13.6%.[xvi]

CDP-Choline is often found in pre-formulated nootropic stacks. But as Cognizin® is only offered in premium stacks.

For example, Mind Lab Pro® includes effective doses of 11 brain enhancing nootropic compounds including 250 mg of Citicoline. And Performance Lab® Mind includes 250 mg of Cognizin®.

I recommend Mind Lab Pro® because it addresses all aspects of anxiety, memory and cognitive enhancement, stabilizes mood, brain repair, and maintenance. See my full Mind Lab Pro review for more.

A great alternative is the Performance Lab® Mind supplement which is made to be used with the Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi. Which supplies the core essential vitamins and minerals for overall brain and body health.

Nootropics Expert Recommendation

Nootropics Expert Tested and ApprovedCDP-Choline 250 – 500 mg per day

I recommend using CDP-Choline as a nootropic supplement.

CDP-Choline is brain food. And is a natural substance found in every cell in your body.

You can get choline from some of the food you eat. But adequate levels of CDP-Choline are only found in organ meats like liver. So to get its benefits you must take it as a supplement.

CDP-Choline is vital to maintaining optimal brain health. And has been shown to increase cognitive energy, boost brain function, enhance communication between neurons, and protect neural membranes from free radical damage.

Cognizin® is a patented, allergen-free, and water-soluble form of CDP-Choline available in premium nootropic stacks like Performance Lab® Mind. And you’ll get 250 mg Citicoline in Mind Lab Pro®

I suggest starting with a dose of 250 – 500 mg daily. And CDP-Choline 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 CDP-Choline it is demanding. Or it starts cannibalizing your own brain cells to make more acetylcholine. Signs that you’re lacking adequate choline are headaches.

When using CDP-Choline with one of the racetams start with a ratio of 1:4. For example, 250 mg of CDP-Choline to 1,000 mg of Aniracetam.

Stroke survivors may want to up the dose to 2,000 mg 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] Petkov V.D., Stancheva S.L., Tocuschieva L., Petkov V.V. “Changes in brain biogenic monoamines induced by the nootropic drugs adafenoxate and meclofenoxate and by citicholine (experiments on rats).” General Pharmacology 1990;21(1):71-5. (source)

[ii] Agut J., Coviella I.L., Wurtman R.J. “Cytidine (5’) diphosphocholine enhances the ability of haloperidol to increase dopamine metabolites in the striatum of the rat and to diminish stereotyped behavior induced by apomorphine.” Neuropharmacology 1984 Dec;23(12A):1403-6. (source)

[iii] Rao A.M., Hatcher J.F., Dempsey R.J. “CDP-choline: neuroprotection in transient forebrain ischemia of gerbils.” Journal of Neuroscience Research 1999 Dec 1;58(5):697-705. (source)

[iv] Adibhatla R.M., Hatcher J.F., Dempsey R.J. “Citicoline: neuroprotective mechanisms in cerebral ischemia.” Journal of Neurochemistry 2002 Jan;80(1):12-23 (source)

[v] Wurtman R.J. “Choline metabolism as a basis for the selective vulnerability of cholinergic neurons.” Trends in Neuroscience 1992 Apr;15(4):117-22. (source)

[vi] Wang L., Pooler A.M., Albrecht M.A., Wurtman R.J. “Dietary uridine-5′-monophosphate supplementation increases potassium-evoked dopamine release and promotes neurite outgrowth in aged rats.” Journal of Molecular Neuroscience 2005;27(1):137-45. (source)

[vii] 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)

[viii] De Bruin N.M.W.J., Kiliaan A.J., De Wilde M.C., Broersen L.M. “Combined uridine and choline administration improves cognitive deficits in spontaneously hypertensive rats” Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Volume 80, Issue 1, July 2003, Pages 63–79 (source)

[ix] Hurtado O. et. Al “Neuroprotection afforded by prior citicoline administration in experimental brain ischemia: effects on glutamate transport.” Neurobiology of Disease 2005 Mar;18(2):336-45. (source)

[x] Adibhatla R.M., Hatcher J.F., Dempsey R.J. “Citicoline: neuroprotective mechanisms in cerebral ischemia.” Journal of Neurochemistry 2002 Jan;80(1):12-23. (source)

[xi] Watanabe S., Kono S., Nakashima Y., Mitsunobu K., Otsuki S. “Effects of various cerebral metabolic activators on glucose metabolism of brain.” Folia Psychiatr Neurol Jpn. 1975;29(1):67-76. (source)

[xii] Clark W.M. “Efficacy of citicoline as an acute stroke treatment.” Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy. 2009 Apr;10(5):839-46. (source)

[xiii] De Bruin N.M., Kiliaan A.J., De Wilde M.C., Broersen L.M. “Combined uridine and choline administration improves cognitive deficits in spontaneously hypertensive rats.” Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. 2003 Jul;80(1):63-79. (source)

[xiv] Silveri M.M. et. Al. “ Citicoline enhances frontal lobe bioenergetics as measured by phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy.” NMR in Biomedicine 2008 Nov;21(10):1066-75. (source)

[xv] McGlade E., Agoston A.M., DiMuzio J., Kizaki M., Nakazaki E., Kamiya T., Yurgelun-Todd D. “The Effect of Citicoline Supplementation on Motor Speed and Attention in Adolescent Males.” Journal of Attention Disorders 2015 Jul 15. pii: 1087054715593633. (source)

[xvi] Silveri M.M. et. al. “Cognizin® Citicoline Increases Brain Energy (ATP) by 14% and Speeds up Formation of Brain Membranes by 26% in Healthy Adults” Society for Neuroscience San Diego, CA (source)

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Join The Discussion - 236 comments

Thomas
April 1, 2023

Is CDP-Choline usefull for parkinson’s?

Thanks,
Thomas

    David Tomen
    April 1, 2023

    Thomas, yes CDP-Choline is helpful for Parkinson’s. CDP-choline has been reported to allow reductions in levodopa doses by up to 50% without any reduction in symptoms. Likely because of decreased reuptake of dopamine leading to increased levels at the synaptic cleft. And CDP-choline activates tyrosine-hydroxylase which induces increased dopamine production.

John
February 6, 2023

As I understand it, even when taking cdp-choline, to create Alpha-gpc, you still have to destroy phosphatidylcholine from cell membranes?

    David Tomen
    February 9, 2023

    John, it is not true. Alpha GPC provides the choline molecule needed to make acetylcholine so your brain does not need to raid brain cell membranes for it.

      John
      March 14, 2023

      And when taking only phosphatidylcholine, or solar lecithin?

        David Tomen
        March 20, 2023

        John, there is no such thing as “solar lecithin”. But the same goes for PC or PS. When you supplement with them along with CDP-Choline you are providing your brain with what it needs. And it does not need to raid your brain cells looking for choline molecules to make acetylcholine.

Luke
February 4, 2023

Thank you for this great resource. Do you have an opinion of Phosphatidyl Choline (Thorne), can this type provide any mental focus benefits? It seems like it is mostly marketed for liver. I have tried a small half test dose 200mg a few times of Thorne, but didn’t feel a real effect like Bitartate or Citicoline, though perhaps it takes a larger dose?

I have tried a supplement with Choline Bitartrate (Lipo Flavanoid Plus) which I feel gives some mental focus, but very small. The good thing is no bad side effects. But its not enough focus, need more, or perhaps a larger dose – not sure how many mg is in their proprietary blend.

Citicoline (Jarrow) felt too strong, cannot handle the days of side effects – insomnia, headaches, anxiety.

    David Tomen
    February 13, 2023

    Luke, Choline Bitartrate cannot easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Citicoline and Alpha GPC each provide a choline molecule for the synthesis of acetylcholine. Phosphatidyl Choline does as well but not as directly as the other two.

Elly
January 15, 2023

Hi David,
I’ve been taking Alpha GPC 600mg for 2 yrs + ALCAR 1500mg for 10 mo. Now adding CDP-Choline to my stack, I’m reevaluating sources + dosages.

Since I’m adding CDP-Choline, I’m wondering if I should half these doses to not get too much acetylcholine.

Alpha GPC (300mg or 600mg)
CDP-Choline (250mg or 500mg)
ALCAR (750mg or 1500mg)

    David Tomen
    January 18, 2023

    Elly, stop using Alpha GPC and continue with 250 mg CDP-Choline twice per day with 500 or 750 mg ALCAR twice per day.

Phan
December 27, 2022

Hi David,

What happens if I use 150mg x 3 times per day? Would using 3 instead of 2 times have any bad effect? Thank you!

    David Tomen
    December 28, 2022

    Phan, you dosing method will work. There is a lot of misinformation around about the half-life of CDP-Choline (Citicoline) running from 2.5 – 3 hours all the way up to over 60 hours. But according to my latest research (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40263-014-0144-8) it’s not even found in blood plasma taken at higher doses. There is no recorded “bad effect” even at higher doses for this type of choline.

      Phan
      December 28, 2022

      Thank you David!

      Your reply to mine on PS said I should take “CDP Choline 300 mg twice per day”, does that mean a total of 300×2 = 600mg (or 200×3) or 150×2 = 300mg?

        David Tomen
        December 29, 2022

        Ohan for CDP-Choline the dosage is a total of 300×2 = 600mg (or 200×3).

        Phan
        December 29, 2022

        Thank you 🙂

Zayan
December 23, 2022

Can a 9 year old with childhood Dementia take cdp choline??

    David Tomen
    December 26, 2022

    Zayan, I’m not a baby doctor so cannot advise you whether it is safe or not. But my research tells me it should be perfectly safe. I highly suggest you confirm this with your child’s doctor however.

Anwar
November 20, 2022

Hi,can i take both cdp and phosphotidylcholine pc
I want to improve my brain and liver becaus i have fatty liver
Thanks

    David Tomen
    November 28, 2022

    Anwar, you can use both but you may need to reduce the dose of each if you find you are dealing with excess acetylcholine.

Chris
September 29, 2022

Alpha GPC (as well as Citicholine) just made me sleepy, really sleepy.

    David Tomen
    September 29, 2022

    Chris, that very likely means you already have the acetylcholine you need. And adding more is not a good idea. But some simply cannot take a choline supplement without a bad reaction.

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