Uridine Monophosphate (UMP or 5′-uridylic acid) is a pyrimidine nucleoside found in all living organisms ranging from humans to bacteria.
Uridine is one of 4 repeating units that make up RNA (Ribonucleic Acid). RNA and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) are the main information carrying molecules in each of your cells. Uridine is so important to brain development that it is included in human baby formulas.[i]
Uridine is essential for optimized cognition and memory throughout your life. When taken as a nootropic supplement, Uridine Monophosphate easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.[ii] UMP has much better bioavailability than dietary sources of uridine.
CDP-Choline levels are increased once uridine reaches your brain. CDP-Choline is required for the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine (PC). PC in turn is a precursor of the essential neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh). Increased levels of PC and acetylcholine improves cognitive function.
Uridine is also a major building block for the synthesis of neurons and synapses. And uridine enhances the growth of neurites, which are projections from neurons that facilitate connections with other neurons.[iii]
Uridine Monophosphate helps:
- Mood. Uridine helps boost the release of dopamine in your brain. Leading to better mood, alertness and cognition.
- Neurotransmitters. Uridine is a precursor to the synthesis of acetylcholine.[iv] And boosts the release of dopamine in the brain.
- Neuroprotectant. Uridine is a precursor to the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine (PC). A phospholipid that is a primary component of healthy cell membranes. Uridine also enhances neurite and synapse growth.
Table of Contents
Uridine Monophosphate (UMP or 5′-uridylic acid) is a pyrimidine nucleoside that is one of 4 components that make up RNA (ribonucleic acid). RNA is a molecular cousin of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA are the memory bank for all living organisms.
RNA works as a messenger molecule, carrying the blueprint provided by DNA to tiny cellular factories called ribosomes. Ribosomes are in charge of protein synthesis and use the blueprint sent over from DNA by RNA to produce the right protein for the job required.
The bottom line is that without uridine to make up RNA, DNA couldn’t get the info out for proteins to be synthesized. And life as we know it would cease to exist.
Our bodies create some uridine. And we get uridine from the RNA of foods we eat including beets, beer, broccoli, fish, mushrooms, oats, parsley, sugar cane, tomatoes, and brewer’s yeast. Beer provides some of the highest uridine content of all the foods tested.
The problem is most of the uridine we get from food never makes it from our digestive system to our brain. So we need to supplement with uridine monophosphate (UMP) to experience the benefits of uridine.
Researchers have found that Uridine Monophosphate alone can improve memory. But stacking UMP with DHA (Omega-3) and choline works in synergy, increasing the number of synapses. Resulting in improved cognition.[v]
How does Uridine Monophosphate work in the Brain?
Uridine Monophosphate boosts brain health and function in several ways. But two in particular stand out.
- Uridine improves memory. Uridine helps boost learning and memory in several ways. Uridine helps the growth of new synapses in your brain, increases signaling between neurons, and assists in the formation of acetylcholine (ACh).
Memory is largely dependent on neuroplasticity which is associated with the ability to learn and form memories. This process of turning experiences into memories relies on the growth of new neurons (neurogenesis), new synapses (synaptogenesis), dendrite formation, and network reorganization.
New neurons (neurogenesis) are encased in a phospholipid layer made up partly of phosphatidylcholine (PC). PC is made from CDP-Choline which is produced with the help of uridine.[vi] Supplementing with uridine gives your brain the ability to create more phospholipids by providing an abundance of CDP-Choline. Resulting in new and stronger neurons.
Uridine is a precursor to the formation of CDP-Choline which is a precursor to the formation phosphatidylcholine (PC). PC separates into choline and sphingomyelin in your brain. Choline is then available to form acetylcholine (ACh). Optimal ACh levels is crucial for cognitive performance.[vii]
Uridine also helps increase synapse formation (synaptogenesis) by enhancing neurite growth. Uridine signals this outgrowth by activating the P2Y2 receptor which controls neuron differentiation and synaptic protein synthesis.[viii]
- Uridine impacts mood. Uridine stimulates the release of the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter dopamine in your brain.
Phospholipids like phosphatidylcholine (PC) are required for cellular growth and repair, and specifically for synaptic function. PC synthesis is controlled by levels of its precursor CDP-Choline which is produced from cytidine triphosphate (CTP) and phosphocholine.
Researchers found that supplementing with uridine monophosphate boosted levels of CDP-Choline. By promoting the synthesis of uridine triphosphate (UTP), which was partly converted to CTP.
Uridine also enhanced neurite outgrowth with the help of nerve growth factor (NGF). The research team found that dopamine release correlated with neurite outgrowth influenced by UMP.[ix]
Increased levels of dopamine has a significant affect on mood, learning and attention.
How things go bad
↓ Cognition, memory, recall, reaction time and mood diminish
↓ Brain cell membranes degenerate
↓ Neurotransmitter levels decline
↓ Neurons and synapses decline
All of these changes in brain energy metabolism are contributing factors to neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, epilepsy, and dementia.
But even if you’re not concerned with age-related cognitive decline, or the effects of aging, Uridine Monophosphate can help.
Uridine Monophosphate to the rescue
Benefits reported by neurohackers include; uplifting and stabilizing mood, reducing stress and OCD symptoms, a reduction in anxiety, and modulating and normalizing dopamine release.
Adding uridine monophosphate to your nootropic stack helps:
- Reduce general cognitive decline
- Increase free phosphatidylcholine (PC)
- Increase acetylcholine in your brain
- Increase receptor (neurogenesis), and synapse (synaptogenesis) densities
- Improve cellular phospholipid membrane health
- Boost learning and memory
How does Uridine Monophosphate feel?
UMP elevates mood and relieves depression. Feelings of “well-being’ are enhanced. And verbal fluidity, memory and focus are all noticed at doses as low as 150 mg of UMP.
Those dealing with ADHD report that uridine monophosphate increases cognition without causing anxiety or mood changes. This is backed up by science that shows uridine reduces the side effects associated with medication that effects dopamine and GABA neurotransmission.[xii]
Others report that uridine monophosphate helps bring clarity of thought, resolving problems is faster and easier, math is easier, and making decisions from a clear emotional state simplifies life.
The common thread through most reviews on uridine monophosphate is greater success when stacking UMP with a choline like Alpha GPC and Omega-3’s. This synergy is backed up by multiple clinical trials.
We have plenty of research on uridine monophosphate. But most of the studies and trials have been done using animals. Likely because uridine is naturally found in every cell of the human body. It’s a key element in a chain of four molecules that make up the RNA chain.
And since uridine is a natural element, it cannot be patented. So very little money can be made by the large pharmaceutical companies since UMP can’t be sold as a “drug”.
The clinical evidence that we do have for uridine monophosphate strongly suggests that it is a powerful and useful nootropic.
Uridine Monophosphate Boosts Intelligence
Consumption of certain nutrients can influence brain function even if you’re not trying to “fix a problem”. We know that supplemental DHA (Omega-3) can improve cognition in humans. DHA makes up 60% of your brain and is most prominent in the phospholipid membrane of each of your brain cells.
Researchers have found that supplemental Uridine Monophosphate (UMP) also promotes synthesis of synaptic phosphatides. But scientists found that taking DHA with UMP has an even greater effect on synthesis of synaptic phosphatides. Greater than taking each nootropic on its own.
Scientists also found that combining DHA with UMP and choline amplifies increases in dendritic density in the hippocampus.
In one very detailed study with gerbils, researchers found that the combination of DHA, UMP and choline significantly increased learning and memory in the young animals.[xiv]
Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal said of this study, “Now that we know how to make gerbils smarter, it’s not too far a stretch to hope that people’s intelligence can also be improved. Quite frankly, this can’t happen soon enough, as every environmentalist, advocate of evolution and war opponent will attest.”
The synergy of these three nootropics (DHA, UMP and choline) in boosting learning and memory are powerful motivation for any neurohacker to add these supplements to their stack.
Uridine Monophosphate Fights Depression
Research has confirmed the antidepressant effects of omega-3 fatty acids. Associate Professor of Psychiatry William A. Carlezon Jr. of Harvard also found that uridine, a compound found in sugar beets and molasses, has similar effects. And when both Omega-3 and uridine were used in combination, there were found to be effective at lower doses of each.
Professor Carlezon speculated that the antidepressant effects of Omega-3 and uridine were caused by affecting fats in the brain. Making membranes more resilient eased the flow of neurotransmitters.
An imbalance of neurotransmitters is thought to be a cause of depression.
To test this theory, the Professor and his colleagues put rats through a 15-minute swim test during which the animals eventually stopped trying to climb out of the water tank and became largely immobile. Just enough to keep their heads above water.
After the test, the rats were dried off with a towel, placed in a warm enclosure for 30 minutes and then returned to their cages. The next day, rats were retested for 5 minutes each. And the rats that had not received enough omega-3’s or uridine became motionless much more quickly.
The researchers equate the onset of immobility in rats to depression in humans. The animals that received either Omega-3 or uridine, or lower doses of both, continued to swim around.
Professor Carlezon said of the study, “They seem to be protected from the ability of stress to cause depression”.
Adding Omega-3’s or uridine monophosphate to your stack can help you avoid depression. For an even more pronounced antidepressant effect, combine Omega-3’s with uridine monophosphate, but at lower doses of each.[xv]
Uridine Monophosphate May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s researchers agree that cognitive decline seen in Alzheimer’s patients is caused by loss of brain synapses. Researchers at MIT had a theory that restoring some of these synapses could provide an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s.
An MIT team reported in Brain Research that rodents given a cocktail of DHA (Omega-3), uridine and choline showed a greatly increased concentration of dendritic spines. These dendritic spines receive messages in postsynaptic neurons.
The head of the research team Professor Richard Wurtman said of the study that synapse regeneration had occurred. To Alzheimer’s researchers, this synapse regeneration was very unusual and came as a surprise.
In this study, some of the rats received all three compounds (Omega-3, uridine and choline), and some received only one. The improvements in synapse growth and cognitive ability were greatest in the rats given all three.[xvi]
Other research ongoing for at least the last 10 years shows that early treatment using “diet” could significantly slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
I would argue that most neurohackers supplementing with Omega-3’s, uridine monophosphate and choline could avoid Alzheimer’s altogether.
Published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, a study from the University of Eastern Finland and conducted throughout Europe proved you could reduce dementia risk. And reduce amyloid accumulation in Alzheimer’s mouse models.
The results of this study showed that even slight changes in the composition of the diet may, under a sufficiently long period of time and at an early stage of the disease, lead to significant changes in brain metabolism and improved memory performance.[xvii]
The supplements used in this study included uridine-monophosphate, phospholipids, B-vitamins, and antioxidants. This combination has been put into a new supplement called “Souvenaid” which is undergoing clinical trials in Europe and the United States.
We recommend taking UMP with a good multivitamin that includes the B-Vitamin group and a broad range of trace minerals including magnesium.
For best results stack UMP with Omega-3’s that include at least 700 mg of DHA and 300 mg of EPA.
Introduce a good choline source after a couple of weeks of supplementing with uridine monophosphate. Start with 50 mg of Alpha GPC or CDP Choline. And increase your dose depending on response to 300 mg.
If you find that choline supplementation increases depression, stop using choline and try using ALCAR as an alternative.
Everyone’s body chemistry is different. To find the optimal dose of uridine monophosphate for you will take patience and some experimentation. Too little UMP and you won’t see any benefit for a long time. Too much uridine and you’ll feel emotionally dull and/or overly focused.
Uridine is produced naturally in your body. So is considered well-tolerated and safe. Taking uridine monophosphate with food may help avoid any side effects.
Neurohackers report only minor side effects like a decrease in emotions (feeling like a robot). But this has only been noted at very high doses of uridine monophosphate.
If you do not respond well to B-Vitamins or SAM-e, you may not enjoy the benefits of UMP. To learn more about the methylation-factor involved in this reaction for some people, you can read about methylation here.
Uridine Monophosphate (UMP) is available in capsule and powder form. UMP is water soluble and can be taken sublingually.
Sublingual doses are reported to be up to 7 – 10-times the equivalent dose compared to taking UMP orally.
Triacetyluridine (TAU) comes in capsules, and is fat soluble. TAU is up to 4 -7-times stronger when taken orally compared to UMP.
Neurohackers report that UMP is more effective, and a better value than TAU.
Nootropics Expert Recommendation
Uridine Monophosphate 150 – 250 mg twice per day
We recommend using Uridine Monophosphate (UMP) as a nootropic supplement.
Your body does make some uridine on its own. And you get uridine from the food you eat. But research has shown that your body does not retain enough of a usable form of uridine for cognitive benefit.
Uridine Monophosphate is critical for the formation of RNA (ribonucleic acid). The main messenger molecule needed to transfer DNA’s blueprints for protein synthesis.
Uridine Monophosphate is especially helpful if you’re dealing with stress or depression.
We suggest a dose of 150 – 250 mg of UMP twice daily. It takes a while to feel the effects of uridine monophosphate. But you can amplify the effects of UMP by stacking it with 300 mg of Alpha GPC or CDP Choline and 700-1,000 mg of DHA (Omega-3).
Do not push it by taking much more than the recommended dose of UMP. You may experience unwanted side effects.