Choline is essential for brain health and cognitive function, but are you getting enough from the food you eat?
Unfortunately, many people don’t and opt to take choline as a nootropic to boost brain function. A few different compounds act as choline sources, but they are not all created equal.
Two of the supplements that offer the most benefits are CDP Choline and Alpha-GPC, and the effects of both choices can be compared to determine the most beneficial choline supplement.
- What’s The Difference Between CDP Choline and Alpha-GPC?
- CDP Choline or Alpha-GPC: The Comparison
- Which Choline Source Is Better To Choose?
What’s The Difference Between CDP Choline and Alpha-GPC?
Both CDP Choline and Alpha-GPC act for the enhancement of brain function.
However, because of their unique mechanisms and structures, they are often chosen for contrasting reasons.
CDP Choline (Citicoline)
CDP Choline, or Citicoline, is the compound cytidine diphosphocholine, which has neuroprotective properties.
When our body begins to break down Citicoline, it converts into phosphatidylcholine that improves acetylcholine synthesis.
The compound is also a combination of choline and cytidine, so it includes choline and acts as a precursor to the uridine that also has beneficial effects.
CDP Choline Benefits
Citicoline increases the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, but there is evidence to suggest that it also has a positive influence on the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
It can also help to reduce brain fog and increase attention span while simultaneously improving mood and learning.
These benefits are likely caused by the effect that Citicoline has on noradrenaline levels. However, another mechanism of action that may contribute to these benefits is improving blood flow (2).
This can provide nutrient uptake and increases oxygen to the brain, which potentially enhances brain function.
Since it also acts as a precursor to uridine, it may help to improve cognitive decline by maintaining the healthy creation and connectivity of neurons.
This can improve memory formation and brain plasticity and support communication within the cell membranes and synapses. Thus, it is a promising choline form to study to aid memory loss and recall ability. In addition, it is a potential treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease (3).
Disadvantages of CDP Choline
Despite having so many positive benefits to brain health, there is a downside to keep in mind. Citicoline does not seem to have much of an impact on physical productivity and performance like some other nootropics do.
If that is your goal, you would be better off stacking it with another compound or choosing different supplements altogether.
Alpha GPC, or alpha glycerophosphocholine, is a unique compound made of choline and glycerophosphate.
Like Citicoline, it offers neuroprotective features and increases acetylcholine and cell membrane phospholipids.
It may also influence dopamine receptors and calcium levels. However, Alpha-GPC is unique because it crosses the blood-brain barrier more readily than other form of choline supplements.
Alpha-GPC can naturally increase attention span and make concentration easier. In addition to being a source of choline, it also influences normal brain function and regulates essential brain chemicals that affect normal brain and body function (4).
The release of dopamine may help to improve mood and reduce both mental and physical fatigue. While Alpha-GPC is not a traditional stimulant, it may help people maintain healthy, natural energy levels and increase productivity and focus (5).
The most pronounced effects of Alpha-GPC are on memory, and it may help alleviate memory loss and the accuracy of recall. In addition, some evidence shows that supplements containing Alpha-GPC may help retrieve a memory that may have been lost for some time (6).
The reason for these benefits is that the influence on acetylcholine combined with the ability to influence activity in brain cells.
Athletes like to increase their choline intake using Alpha-GPC because it is a supplement that can support both mental and physical energy and performance.
Studies show that it may even increase growth hormone levels, offering potential features for building muscles naturally (7). This could help with athletic recovery as well.
Disadvantages of Alpha-GPC
The most significant disadvantage of using Alpha-GPC as a source of choline is that it costs more than other options, including Citicoline.
While the cost is only a small percentage, the money can add up over time. Also, it works best when combined with other supplements for cognition.
CDP Choline or Alpha-GPC: The Comparison
To determine which source is more useful for choline supplementation, it is essential to compare the primary purposes of each substance that makes them distinct.
The possibility of using each of these supplements for beneficial functions is crucial to look at the choline density because it can help us examine the strength of concentrations.
Citicoline is 18 percent choline, which is less than Alpha-GPC, which offers 40 percent choline.
Add that with the fact that Alpha-GPC crosses the blood-brain barrier easier than Citicoline, and it appears that Alpha-GPC has a clear advantage.
However, that is not necessarily the case because Citicoline offers cytidine. This can improve the efficacy of Citicoline and is why it provides many additional features to improve memory and cognition.
The dosage amount for both choices for choline uptake may be an important consideration as well.
Typically, Alpha-GPC will benefit learning, memory, and other functions with as little as 150 mg, but the recommended dose is 300 to 500 mg one to three times daily.
Citicoline doses begin at around 250 mg but can go up to 700 mg three times a day. Generally, the highest value for cognitive support is found with doses of 200 to 400 mg, two or three times per day.
While there is a little serious risk to the human body for both methods to influence choline intake, some adverse effects are to consider.
Citicoline can cause headaches, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, blurred vision, dizziness, and chest pains.
Alpha-GPC also causes some adverse reactions in some users, including headache, heartburn, insomnia, confusion, and dizziness.
Both supplements are considered safe in people with good health, but if you experience side effects, it is best to decrease your dose or stop taking it altogether until talking to a doctor.
Some people find that taking these types of products with food can reduce the possibility of adverse reactions.
While neither Alpha-GPC nor Citicoline is unreasonably high in cost considering the purpose they serve, price is always a factor to consider. Alpha-GPC is a little more expensive than CDP Choline by milligram or serving.
The cost will also depend on a brand name, demand, and the amount purchased. Still, Alpha-GPC is about 13 percent more expensive than Citicoline.
Which Choline Source Is Better To Choose?
Both Alpha-GPC and CDP Choline are fantastic choices for naturally improving your cognitive abilities. While they work in different ways, they both have their own benefits to offer you in terms of potency, range of action, duration, and effects.
While CDP Choline is an excellent choice for improving focus and boosting overall cognitive health, Alpha-GPC is the better nootropic choice because of its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier readily and its influence on physical performance, learning, memory, and recall abilities.