Alpha GPC is a source of choline which was granted the status of an essential nutrient in 1998. Choline is used by the brain to produce acetylcholine which is involved in memory, attention and learning.
But is Alpha GPC the best choline supplement? There are other types of choline supplements on the market, so we’re going to take a look at how effective each of these choline supplements are.
What Is Alpha GPC?
Alpha GPC is short for L alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine which is a choline compound made in small amounts by the human body.
It is also synthetically produced as a medicine and supplement. Alpha GPC is used to improve memory, and cognitive ability.
This compound endogenously makes acetylcholine, which is an essential neurotransmitter for the functioning of the central and peripheral nervous system. Acetylcholine is vital for muscle control, as well as autonomic body functions, memory and attention.
As a medicine it has been thought to improve mental and physical performance, especially with attention, focus and memory. For this reason, it has been employed for the treatment of patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Does Choline Occur Naturally?
You can obtain choline naturally through your diet, as it is available from a number of food sources. The amount of choline that you can derive from various food items will vary, however.
Beef liver has 426 grams of choline per 100 grams and as such is one of the richest sources of choline. Egg yolks are also rich in choline, with 680 mg per 100 grams as opposed to 1 mg per 100 grams of egg white.
Although not something that everyone can afford, caviar also has high levels of choline with 285 grams per 100 grams while shitake mushrooms have 202 grams of choline per 100 grams.
Soy beans and flour, sun dried tomatoes and smoked salmon all have good levels of choline and can be incorporated into your diet to increase the amount of choline you ingest.
There are three main choline supplements available. Alpha GPC, CDP-choline and choline bitartrate. These supplements all have different levels of choline by weight and will vary in how effective each of them are.
Alpha GPC occurs naturally in the brain, being a byproduct of phosphatidylcholine. If the level of choline in your brain is low your body will make phosphatidylcholine from cell membranes and will convert it into Alpha GPC.
When you take Alpha GPC as a supplement it means your body doesn’t have to cannibalize your own cells to produce more choline.
Alpha GPC supplements are typically made from rice flour or soy lecithin. It contains 41% choline by weight and passes freely into the brain via the blood-brain barrier.
CDP-choline is also known as cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine and is 18% choline by weight. The human body naturally synthesizes CDP-choline from choline and this is then converted into phosphatidylcholine abbreviated to PC.
PC is a major component of cell membranes and helps to create acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter. As a supplement CDP-choline is more commonly known as Citicoline and is available as a salt or as a freebase in dietary supplements.
Choline bitartrate is 40% choline by weight and while this may seem on a par with Alpha GPC there is an important difference.
Choline bitartrate does not pass easily through the blood-brain barrier like Alpha GPC and for this reason it is of more benefit to the body than the brain.
Therefore the nootropic effects of this choline supplement will not be the same as you will achieve with Alpha GPC.
Choline bitartrate is a tartaric acid which is naturally found in grapes and is a leftover product from the fermentation process of wine-making.
Benefits Of Alpha GPC
There are many potential benefits to using Alpha GPC as a supplement most notably as a choline prodrug.
After administration this nootropic increases levels of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter in the central and peripheral nervous system.
Choline is needed to produce the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine which plays an important part in regulating memory, intelligence and mood. To provide enough choline for the production of this vital neurotransmitter taking supplements may be necessary.
It is unlikely that most people will be able to endogenously produce enough choline or ingest enough in their diet to provide optimal levels of acetylcholine.
Taking an Alpha GPC supplement provides extra choline for acetylcholine production which can improve cognitive function. It has 40% choline by weight but also crosses the brain-blood barrier very quickly compared to some other choline supplements.
Alpha GPC has been shown to increase levels of acetylcholine within 1-3 hours of taking the supplement.
Studies have demonstrated that Alpha GPC doesn’t just increase acetylcholine more quickly but also reaches more areas of the brain for the production of this vital neurotransmitter.
One of the most important benefits of taking Alpha GPC is its ability to protect brain cells from neurotoxins.
This protection can extend to protecting the brain from cognitive impairment and neuronal damage following seizures by increasing hippocampal neurogenesis.
It also regulates blood flow to the brain and as such can help to prevent transient ischemic attack and strokes.
In a study on the irradiation of rodent brains, the effect of Alpha GPC in preventing morphological and functional cellular damage was promising and warrants further research.
Large studies have shown that choline intake and associated blood levels led to increased brain function including better processing and memory.
A 1000 mg intake by adults between the age of 50 and 85 led to better short and long term verbal memory in people who previously suffered from poor memory.
As choline is used in many other processes in the body the concentration of choline in the blood determines whether it is used to produce acetylcholine and thereby optimize brain function.
Alpha GPC is known to increase choline levels faster than other choline supplements and has been shown to be incorporated into brain cells after just twenty four hours. Compared to other choline supplements Alpha GPC optimizes brain function much quicker.
CDP-choline does also freely enter the brain but at only 18% by weight you need to take much more to achieve the same results as Alpha GPC.
Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia
As one of the major causes of neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by impaired cognition, memory loss and behavioral problems.
In patients suffering from mild to moderate forms of this disease, the administration of Alpha GPC helps to improve memory function. For those who received the supplement the rate of decline in cognitive, behavioral and memory loss was reduced.
This improvement was achieved as Alpha GPC produces increased levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Dementia is characterized by the impairment of memory, thinking and reasoning. Due to this deterioration in cognitive function the quality of the sufferer’s life and that of their family is detrimentally affected.
Alpha GPC has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function in those patients who suffer from dementia and associated mental decline. A study showed substantial improvement in these patients three months after treatment.
Other peer reviewed studies and experiments show that the administration of Alpha GPC can restore levels of acetylcholine, boost cognitive function and positively affect the nervous system of dementia patients.
Mood Enhancement & Athletic Performance
Comparative studies have demonstrated that the use of Alpha GPC by those people who suffer from affective disorders and apathy has a positive impact.
As well as increasing the production of acetylcholine, Alpha GPC releases more dopamine, cell membrane phospholipids and calcium. For some people this results in an enhanced mood.
Alpha GPC is also well known for its ergogenic properties. A journal-published study stated that Alpha GPC improves overall athletic performance, increases endurance, promotes muscular function and replenishes energy levels.
The study also noted that the supplement also prevented exercise-induced choline depletion. It also improved reaction times and significantly improved task performance and accuracy.
Alpha GPC is one of many choline supplements on the market. Some are more beneficial for brain function while others are best suited to improving bodily functions. Depending on the benefit you are looking for you should choose the one that suits your needs best.
We hope you have found this guide helpful and that it has helped you better understand the benefits of Alpha GPC as a choline supplement.
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