Alpha GPC, one of the most effective sources of choline, is a supplement that is stacked by millions of nootropic users and athletes. It is a very promising molecule which on its own is a respected cognitive booster and when combined with other nootropics and ergogenic aids, can take your performance to a whole new level. In this article, we focus on letting you see why alpha GPC should be an essential component of your stack. Let us find out why.

 

What is Alpha GPC?

Alpha-glycerophosphocholine (Alpha-GPC, α-GPC or sometimes just glycerophosphocholine) is a cholinergic compound that is lauded for its cognitive promoting properties and power-enhancing ability in sports performance. It is a natural choline found in the brain, where it acts as a precursor for acetylcholine. It is also found in a variety of foods that are high in choline, but it is only pharmacologically active at higher doses. This means that to enjoy the benefits of alpha GPC, you not only need to eat pastured eggs, beef liver, cruciferous veggies, or grass-fed raw dairy but also take the supplements. (1)

 

Why Alpha GPC?

There are two common choline-based supplements- CDP Choline (cytidine 5'-diphosphocholine or simply citicholine) and alpha GPC. Both of them are water-soluble compounds, but they work in very different ways. CDP choline is broken down into phosphatidylcholine, which then helps with cell membrane creation and also creates acetylcholine when required. On the other hand, alpha GPC is the end process of phosphatidylcholine (PC). Unlike CDP choline which is a precursor of PC, alpha GPC is a byproduct. You may want to say that whereas CDP choline is an anabolic product, alpha GPC is a catabolic one. (2)

What does all that boil down to? Although CDP choline is closer to the original choline source, alpha GPC is closer to the form used by the cells. When PC is stripped of its fatty acids, what remains is alpha GPC, the molecule that is bound to phosphocholine. As such, alpha GPC is the same form of choline source that the cell obtains from scavenging its own membranes, and is what neurons prefer to use. (3) Alpha GPC therefore clearly wins the argument as to which one is better.

 

Top Benefits of Alpha GPC

 

  • 1. Enhances attention and focus
  • When we are engaged in activities, remaining focused is an internal battle to resist being distracted. This process is profoundly affected by the number of neurotransmitters, sensitivity to their receptors and pathways formed by neurons in the brain. Alpha GPC is known as brain power for a reason- as a nootropic, it has been proven to boost attention, focus, and overall cognitive ability, by acting as a precursor of acetylcholine and helping to build brain cell membranes.

    This means that it helps in the formation of new brain cells which is an essential factor in neuroplasticity. For acetylcholine, its primary effect in the brain is excitatory as a neuromodulator that shapes the role of the central nervous system. (4) Acetylcholine is associated with neuromuscular junction activation (where all the neuronal signals are transmitted) as well as the cognitive process of arousal and attention. Simply said, alpha GPC supplies the brain with raw materials that it needs to build, connect, repair and rejuvenate brain cells. (5)

    With an excellent attention span, you can focus on both internal and external factors that affect your training and performance. Be it learning new skills, hitting a new record, focusing on the final minutes of play or marathon.

     

  • 2. Improves Memory & Learning

  • When compared to other nootropics that only improve focus and concentration, alpha GPC goes over and beyond to enhance memory and learning. For memory formation and learning, one of the requirements is acetylcholine. As seen before, this neurotransmitter is derived from choline, and alpha GPC is among the best precursors that can cross the blood-brain barrier. (6) The downstream effect is the formation of improved memory and learning pathways. The good thing is that it affects both the working memory capacity and long-term memory. Moreover, the speed of memory recall also improves.

    Acetylcholine enhances alpha and beta brain wave frequencies, by improving encoding of new episodic memories. (7). In a study (8) published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the authors found out that the cholinergic effects of alpha GPC improve recall of assigned tasks. The study participants also had fewer misses, as they recalled most of the assignments and processes.

    Alpha GPC is also used to in the fight against Alzheimer’s and dementia. In fact, it has received a lot of attention, and physicians are prescribing it. Results of improved memory are seen within three to six months of continued use. In these disease conditions, Alpha GPC not only helps in maintain acetylcholine levels but also offers the brain the ability to store and utilize it as needed. The principal reason as to why dementia and Alzheimer begin to cause memory loss as we get older is because the levels of choline in the brain naturally deteriorate as we get older. Therefore, when you take it regularly as part of your training nutrition regimen, you lower the risk of these cognitive decline conditions.

     

  • 3. Enhances Clarity in Thought & Speech

  • When there is a significant increase in the levels of acetylcholine in the brain, there is an increase in the speed at which synapses occur. This serves to improve the rate at which thought processes are carried out. Essentially, fast neurological connections translate to better inspection time, reaction period and evoked potentials of your thoughts. That is the same way that caffeine works to improve mental focus and acuity. (9)

    Again, just like your car, your brain needs fuel to so that it can perform at its optimum. If you drive your Ferrari for too many miles without refueling, it will quit on you. Similarly, if you do not power your brain, it will eventually respond with sluggishness and lack of precision. Energized cognition drives peak mental performance through active thinking, fast mental processing, and clarity.

    What alpha GPC does to power your brain is that it enhances the brain’s metabolic pathways to promote natural energy production by optimizing mitochondrial efficiency and avoids a post-excitement crash (unlike caffeine and other stimulants). (10) A clear mind is not only the best tool that you can have to set your personal training goals but also to smash them!

     

     

  • 4. Increases Energy

  • Alpha GPC takes a direct approach to boosting energy levels at the cellular level. Right in the mitochondrial (the basic level of creation of ATP), alpha GPC boosts energy levels by transporting raw materials, neutralizing free radicals and maintaining the mitochondrial membrane integrity. Other studies (11) also suggest that alpha GPC increases mitochondrial oxygen consumption, which results in more ATP synthesis.

    When in high impact activities, the increased demand for oxygen may at times not be met, and it may result in ischemia-perfusion injury to the cells. It translates to an inevitable decrease in ATP production and consequently fatigue. Furthermore, there is also an overproduction of reactive oxygen species, which causes oxidative damage and mitochondria membrane failure.

    Ingestion of alpha GPC stimulates the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine, which is critical in the preservation of the structural integrity of not only mitochondrial membranes but also other cellular membranes. The healthier mitochondrial, the more robust the metabolism and the more energized the body is.

     

     

  • 5. Increases Power Output & Physical Strength

  • One of the most eye-catching benefits of alpha GPC is that it increases lower body force production after only six days of supplementation. In a study (12) published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13 college-aged males were given 600mg of alpha GPC daily. The participants were then asked to perform isometric mid-thigh pull in a custom squat cage and upper body against a high-frequency load on both initial and last days of the study. The results (after six days) showed that there was a significant increase in isometric mid-thigh pull peak force. For the upper body test, there wasn’t much significant change.

    The ability of alpha GPC to increase power output and physical strength is primarily as a result of increasing bioavailable choline and growth hormone levels. Though the levels of growth hormone are not sustained, they increase shortly (60 to 120 minutes) after ingestion of alpha GPC as a result of the action of acetylcholine stimulated catecholamine release. (13)

    Growth hormone, a somatotropin, just as its name suggests, stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and regeneration. It can also be said to be a mitogen that has a positive effect on fat burning, muscle building, and metabolism. (14) This makes alpha GPC an interesting nootropic for bodybuilders and anyone who wants to lose weight.

     

     

  • 6. Provides Raw Material for Racetam Compounds to Work Their Wonders

  • Racetam, synthetic compounds that are classified as nootropics bind to acetylcholine and its receptor sites to exert their effects. (15) Alpha GPC ensures that the body has an adequate supply of choline, leading to the efficient conversion and production of acetylcholine. When racetam comes along, it finds acetylcholine that is ready to be bound. This means that when you take racetam and alpha GPC, their effects are even more powerful.

    In fact, when taking racetams, it is recommended to consume alpha GPC or another choline based supplement, to avoid the effects of choline depletion and to optimize the results.

     

    What is the Best Dosage for Alpha GPC?

    The standard dosage for alpha GPC is 300 to 600mg. For athletes, most power output studies have used 600mg, and this is enough to cause spikes of growth hormone. To alleviate signs and symptoms of cognitive decline such as in Alzheimer’s disease, doses of up to 1200mg divided into three doses of 400mg are recommended daily. (16)

    It is prudent to take your alpha GPC supplements alongside dietary fatty acids as this enhances its absorption. Alpha GPC being a phospholipid, it is best absorbed with other fats. Moreover, for the purposes of stacking, alpha GPC goes well with other acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. On the other hand, being a cholinergic, it will not go well with anticholinergics.

    Alpha GPC is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the American Food and Drug Administration. (17) However, some people may experience minor side effects such as a headache, dizziness, and insomnia. These side effects are more likely to be experienced with more dosing. It may, therefore, be worthwhile to start with low doses as you work your way up.

     

    Final Thoughts on Alpha GPC

    In summary, here is a quick list of facts about alpha GPC

    • Is also known as Alpha-glycerophosphocholine, α-GPC or sometimes just glycerophosphocholine.
    • Is a water-soluble cholinergic that crosses the blood-brain barrier to target certain pathways in the central nervous system.
    • Is a precursor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a potent neuromodulator in the brain
    • As a nootropic, it enhances attention and focus, memory and learning, improves clarity in thought and speech
    • Improves memory and has been used to improve the symptoms of patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
    • Improves mitochondrial health by preventing oxidative damage and maintaining the cell membrane integrity. It also increases cellular respiration, availing more oxygen for energy production
    • Increases human growth hormone function, which aids in lean mass gain and increasing physical strength.
    • When compared to CPD choline, alpha GPC is better as it provides choline that is ready for use by the body cells
    • The typical dose of alpha GPC is 300mg to 600mg for athletic purposes. For improving cognitive decline, 1200mg divided in three doses per day is recommended.
    • Is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the American Food and Drug Administration.

     

     

    REFERENCES

  • https://examine.com/supplements/alpha-gpc/
  • http://www.ilifelink.com/cdp-choline_and_alpha_gpc_what_to_feed_your_head.html
  • https://nootropicsexpert.com/advanced-guide-to-choline-in-nootropic-stacks/#cdp-choline-vs-alpha-gpc  
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627312008021
  • https://www.mindlabpro.com/blog/nootropics/nootropics-attention/
  • https://examinedexistence.com/nootropics-cross-blood-brain-barrier/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2659740/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4536529/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4595381/
  • https://www.mindlabpro.com/blog/nootropics/nootropics-energy/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5115775/
  • https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-015-0103-x
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22673596
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3313098/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11259610
  • https://examine.com/supplements/alpha-gpc/
  • https://cdn.noocube.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/09152523/NooCube-AlphaGPC3.pdf
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