Today, people are increasingly aware that the health of the body determines the health of the mind. Just as eating a healthy diet and exercise can improve a person’s physical health, it can also improve their mental health as well. One can even enhance their ability to do difficult mental tasks by improving their physical health. People are also increasingly aware that drugs and supplements can improve their mental capabilities. These compounds are known as nootropics or “smart drugs.” Some nootropics are safer and more effective than others, and people often are hesitant to take them due to the fear of side effects or the belief that these drugs tend to have little impact. Nonetheless, nootropics do work. One can significantly improve their life with drugs that boost their mental abilities.
The Benefits of CDP Choline
CDP choline is best known for its ability to enhance memory (1). However, it has plenty of other benefits as a nootropic. CDP choline treats many issues, from vision loss to cocaine addiction (2)(3). The well-known nootropic prevents mental exhaustion and allows one to think more clearly. Its positive effect on reaction time proves its cognitive effects, as reaction time may be associated with overall mental acuity (4). Those who suffer from concussions or strokes may be able to recover with the help of this nootropic (5)(6).
One reason why CDP choline is such a popular nootropic is that it can make other nootropics more effective. Users say that CDP choline can also reduce the side effects of some other nootropics.
Is CDP Choline Proven to Work?
While many popular nootropics are not yet backed up by substantial evidence, CDP Choline is well understood (7). When CDP Choline is metabolized, the body converts it into Choline and Uridine, both of which CDP Choline is capable of causing the brain’s neurons to repair themselves. CDP Choline, therefore, has benefits that may persist after one stops taking the supplement. The supplement also raises adrenaline and dopamine, and of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. With more adrenaline, dopamine, and norepinephrine, one can concentrate more intensely. Acetylcholine also increases, which boosts one’s learning ability (8).
The Benefits of Alpha-GPC
Many people believe that Alpha-GPC has the power to treat dementia, many types of cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease (9). Therefore, it may have powerful healing properties as in addition to its ability to boost brainpower. Alpha-GPC may be able to improve the health of the muscles as much as the brain (10). Alpha-GPC may also be able to prevent side effects from cancer radiation therapy, help stroke victims, and treat vision problems, although there is not yet any real evidence in favor of these last three claims (11)(15)(16)(17). Further studies will be needed to determine whether or not Alpha-GPC has as many physical and mental health benefits as some people claim.
The evidence in favor of Alpha-GPC is best when one is talking about treating gradual cognitive decline. Both human and animal studies prove Alpha-GPC’s effectiveness in these cases. Many older people have dementia due to brain damage or merely to reduced blood flow. Medical studies on humans are in favor of GPC treating dementia (12). Pure choline does not have as much of an effect on dementia as Alpha-GPC does. Animal studies on rats are also in favor of treating cognitive decline caused by repeated seizures.
Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating disease that ruins the quality of life for countless older adults. People have been searching for a cure for decades. While there is no cure, many medical studies are in favor of Alpha-GPC being a relatively effective treatment. Alzheimer’s patients benefit from taking Alpha-GPC in addition to other Alzheimer’s treatments (12).
Alpha-GPC also has benefits for athletes. Alpha-GPC is capable of allowing an athlete to jump higher and to lift heavier weights (13) (14). Alpha-GPC raises growth hormone, but this is a brief effect even if it is an enormous increase. Researchers will need many other studies to prove or refute each benefit of the drug.
Alpha-GPC for Cognitive Enhancement
Many people who use Alpha-GPC are not suffering from any cognitive impairment. It is also not used primarily for the sake of physical fitness. Instead, Alpha-GPC allows an already healthy person to concentrate better and to learn faster. A great deal of information can be absorbed into memory in a short period of time if one is using Alpha-GPC (14b). It works very well on its own and not merely in combination with other nootropics.
CDP Choline vs Alpha GPC: How Do These Supplements Work?
Are CDP Choline and Alpha GPC significantly different, or are they similar nootropics that have similar effects? Both CDP choline and Alpha GPC work by increasing levels of choline and acetylcholine in the brain.
One cannot merely take an acetylcholine supplement and receive any benefits. The body will not allow acetylcholine to cross the blood-brain barrier. If one takes acetylcholine supplements, the substance will pass through their digestive system without entering the brain and having any effect.
For this reason, supplements that cause the body to produce acetylcholine are used. If one takes a compound that causes the brain to produce acetylcholine, on the other hand, then one achieves the goal of raising the level of acetylcholine in the brain.
CDP Choline and Alpha-GPC are two different substances that cause the body to produce more choline and acetylcholine. Since both of the two nootropics are intended to do the same thing, it is only a matter of which supplement is safer and more effective. The two nootropics are different chemicals. One could very well achieve its desired effect much better than the other.
CDP Choline vs Alpha GPC: Price
If both supplements work for you, CDP Choline is a better idea as it is cheaper. Alpha GPC is at least 13% more expensive than CDP Choline is. Since the price difference is not very large, one should go with the supplement they prefer.
CDP Choline vs Alpha GPC: The FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
At the current point in time, the FDA does not approve of either CDP Choline or Alpha GPC. Both CDP Choline and Alpha GPC are legal. Companies sell both CDP Choline and Alpha GPC and nutritional supplements. Supplements can sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly be banned or made prescription only. However, neither CDP Choline nor Alpha GPC seems to be in immediate danger.
CDP Choline vs Alpha GPC: They both boost the effects of other nootropics.
Both CDP choline and Alpha GPC have the power to boost the effects of other supplements. The class of nootropics known as racetams in particular works well with both CDP and GPC. Racetams cause an increased demand for acetylcholine in the nervous system and the brain. If one takes either Alpha GPC or CDP choline with racetams, the racetams have a more significant effect. Increasing the effectiveness of racetams does in this way does not seem to worsen their side effects, and Alpha GPC and CDP choline may prevent the side effects of racetams. We do not know which of the two supplements is best for boosting the effects of racetams. Go with one’s personal preference or the cheaper of the two supplements in this case.
CDP Choline vs Alpha GPC: Can a nursing baby benefit if the mother takes these supplements?
Neither CDP Choline nor Alpha GPC is known to be safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding. One should be careful with supplements during breastfeeding. Talk to a doctor first. There is no evidence for or against CDP Choline or Alpha GPC being either safe or unsafe in these cases. Just because the supplements seem to be relatively safe for people who are not pregnant or nursing does not mean they are harmless for expectant or nursing mothers.
Possibly, taking Alpha GPC (but not necessarily CDP Choline) during breastfeeding could benefit the brain development of an infant. Breast milk contains Alpha GPC in small quantities anyway, and perhaps taking it while nursing could help the child. However, there are no studies for or against this being a safe idea.
CDP Choline vs Alpha GPC: Doses
A recommended daily dose for either nootropic is between 100 and 500 milligrams. Other sources suggest higher doses. One might take 250 to 1000 milligrams per day and find that useful and not likely to lead to side effects. If the drugs are being used to treat a stroke, higher doses such as 1000 to 2000 milligrams per day are considered appropriate. Possibly, doses of 4000mg per day of CDP Choline are harmless, although not necessarily more effective than lower doses.
CDP Choline vs Alpha GPC: Side effects
Side effects for both drugs are mild and rare, although there is not yet enough evidence to prove that these drugs are safe. If one takes doses of 2000mg or more per day, they are more likely to experience side effects. Gastrointestinal side effects, including diarrhea and vomiting, have been reported, usually at high doses. Take either drug carefully until you know how well you tolerate it. Talk to your doctor before experimenting with untested supplements.
CDP Choline vs Alpha GPC: Overall effectiveness
While both supplements work, many users report that Alpha GPC is the more effective of the two (18). Alpha GPC may be faster acting and have a somewhat stronger effect. However, there may not be much real difference between the two drugs. Either drug is capable of raising levels of neurotransmitters that are important for brain health. Both work in the same way, by causing the body to produce neurotransmitters rather than by being neurotransmitters themselves.
CDP Choline vs Alpha GPC as part of a nootropic stack
Many people who use nootropics take a large number of different supplements, either for different situations or daily. By combining many different supplements, many people manage to defeat mental disorders or become capable of things that were beyond their focus or intelligence before the drugs. Both CDP Choline and Alpha GPC considered conventional and essential nootropics, likely to be part of any stack. The two drugs are combined with racetams in particular as they enhance the effects of these other nootropics. A stack might also include vitamins such as B6, B9, and B12, which can boost cognitive power as well as more exotic substances. Lion’s mane mushroom is another popular part of a nootropic stack as it can have a long term effect on the health of the brain by encouraging the growth of neurons. Rhodiola Rosea, Maritime Pine Bark Extract, and L-Theanine are also commonly used. Someone sufficiently enthusiastic about nootropics might take ten or more of these drugs. Nootropics that work well with Alpha GPC are likely to also work well with CDP choline.
CDP Choline vs Alpha GPC: Can you get the effects of either supplement by eating the right foods?
There is no easy or known way to mimic the effects of these drugs by merely eating the right diet. Eggs are a natural source of choline, but one could eat a lot of eggs and still not get nearly as much choline as is possible with a supplement. Indeed, brain health is determined by diet and exercise as much as supplements, but even someone who eats well and exercises can benefit significantly from cognitive boosting supplements.
Can Either Supplement Treat Addictions?
Drugs that are effective in treating addictions exist. Doctors often prescribe medications that heal addictions, and these drugs are not always milder substitutes for the drug a patient is addicted to – instead, a very different substance can treat addiction. For example, nicotine-free drugs like Champix prevent nicotine cravings.
There is not much evidence so far about treating addictions with drugs that raise acetylcholine. However, one study shows that CDP Choline can reduce cravings for cocaine. A dose of as little as 500mg per day was shown to have positive effects. The group taking CDP Choline experienced significantly lower cravings than the group taking a placebo instead (3). A history of cocaine dependence often causes dopamine levels in the brain to drop when one is away from the drug. CDP choline may work by preventing dopamine levels from dropping in recovering cocaine users (4). Alpha GPC was not part of the study, but one might assume it would work as well.
How is taking Alpha GPC different from taking pure choline?
Both Alpha GPC and CDP-Choline attempt to improve upon pure choline supplementation. Alpha GPC is a mix of choline and phosphates. The phosphate portion of the compound is destroyed when the body metabolizes the drug. Once the body has removed the phosphates, only pure choline is left. The brain can then use pure choline to create acetylcholine, which improves the functioning of the nervous system, muscles, and mind. Mixing the pure choline with phosphates enhances the effectiveness of the drug.
Is choline more comparable to a vitamin than a drug?
Experts neither consider choline a vitamin nor consider it a mineral. It also is not banned or approved by the food and drug administration, so at least in the United States, it is not considered a drug either.
Experts since 1998 have considered choline to be vital for health and an essential nutrient (19). It is, therefore, more comparable to a vitamin than a drug. It is a part of nature, and unfortunately, there is not much choline even in foods that are relatively high in the nutrient. Choline is, therefore, an excellent example of a nutrient that should be taken in the form of supplements. It is necessary for health but difficult to find in food.
Choline is related to vitamins b6, b9, and b12, but is not a vitamin (20). These nutrients all contribute to brain health. While the liver can produce small amounts of choline itself, neither what the liver can provide nor a typical healthy diet can generate a great deal of choline.
Can a person be severely deficient in choline?
Yes, there is such a thing as a choline deficiency. A person who gets particularly little choline in their diet may end up with health problems (21). Difficulty thinking is one of the first things that will happen if one is deficient in choline. First, they will find it difficult to concentrate, and then their memory will weaken. Severe choline deficiency can also damage the liver though causing fat deposits to build up in it. One’s mood can also become low or erratic if one is not eating enough collagen. Choline deficiency can also affect one physically, leading to weak muscles and quick exhaustion.
Thankfully, merely getting enough collagen in one’s diet is enough to prevent this deficiency. Like many other nutrients, one can achieve benefits if one takes a lot more of the nutrient than what a healthy diet will typically provide. A person can have normal choline and neither receive any benefits nor suffer any health problems, can have a choline deficiency, or can use above normal levels of choline as a medicine or as a nootropic.
Some people are more likely to suffer from a choline deficiency than others. Those who abuse or at least frequently use alcohol may be at increased risk. Women become more vulnerable to choline deficiency after menopause. Hospitalized patients that are hooked up to an I.V. need to be monitored for choline deficiency. Athletes may be more sensitive than others, and there may be a genetic component to risk of choline deficiency (22).
Choline deficiency becomes more and more dangerous the older a person is. In a study of older volunteers who did without nearly enough choline, 77% of the men and 80% of the women developed the early signs of liver damage (23). Choline is a nutrient that has uses all over the body, and it is harmful to be deprived of choline other than what the liver can produce itself. Restoring the liver health of the patients studied involved required a high choline diet – a normal choline diet was not enough to fully restore the health of everyone participating in the study (23). Possibly, this suggests that high doses of choline supplements could heal some long term health problems.
A particularly negative side effect of a choline deficiency is that it may cause neural tube defects. Neural tube defects can be caused by a variety of nutritional factors, with choline deficiency being one of them (23). If a pregnant woman is deficient enough in either choline or folate the baby may end up without a properly developed brain.
Studies on rats show that memory may be sharper of high amounts of choline are given to a pregnant female. A rat born to a mother that was given a diet high in choline during pregnancy will keep its memory until much later in life than other rats. While doctors do NOT yet recommend either CDP Choline or Alpha GPC to pregnant women, eating a diet high in choline is undoubtedly recommended.
Choline deficiency may also be associated with heart disease. Choline helps detoxify the body by removing harmful homocysteine from the blood. Without this detoxification, homocysteine builds up until it damages the body. An excess of homocysteine is associated with bone fractures, cancer, and cardiovascular disease (23).
Like vitamin C, Choline seems to be beneficial for health in general. By eating foods that contain choline, one can prevent health problems. One can also improve one’s physical and primarily mental abilities by using supplements to raise choline above the levels found in a healthy diet. Just as high doses of vitamin C are arguably capable of curing some diseases, high doses of choline may also be able to treat certain disorders. The importance of choline to mainstream medical science will probably increase over the next decade as the evidence in favor of its safety and effectiveness increases. For now, it is perfectly legal and available to those interested in nootropics and alternative medical treatments.
(1) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9203170
(2) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25046515
(3) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10102764
(4) – https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0143034391124007
(5) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2424119/
(6) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4863531/
(7) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4863555/
(8) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18816480
(9) – https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1087/alpha-gpc