March 02, 2022 8 min read

Alpha-GPC is considered to be a powerful nootropic, meaning it could boost cognitive function and support optimal brain health. In some cases, reports suggest that it may help improve cognitive function in those with neurodegenerative disorders, enhance athletic performance, support stroke recovery, and more.

Before you take any of these claims for granted, though, let’s dive a little deeper into the details–what is Alpha-GPC? What research exists to back up these claims? And if it works as well as people claim, what’s the best way to use it?

Here’s what you need to know:

Key Takeaways

  • Alpha-GPC is essential for producing the neurotransmitters necessary for most basic brain functions.
  • You can get alpha-GPC from food, but the amount in most foods is limited.
  • Many people believe that alpha-GPC supplementation can help improve brain health and even describe it as a nootropic supplement.
  • Doses of 400 mg or more are usually taken daily, and most evidence suggests that alpha-GPC is well tolerated by most patients.
  • If you intend to take alpha-GPC for it’s potential nootropic benefits, you may consider a multi-functional nootropic blend containing alpha-GPC and other herbal extracts and brain-boosting vitamins.

About Alpha-GPC

A person holding their single daily dose of alpha-GPC for brain health

Alpha-GPC (also known as L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine or choline alphoscerate) is what’s called a phospholipid, meaning it helps compose cell membranes and regulates crucial cellular processes. Most significantly, it helps produce choline, and therefore plays a crucial role in regulating and supporting optimal nervous system health. It also helps the body create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that maintains your cognitive and muscular functions.

Your body can make alpha-GPC, but it needs plenty of choline from natural sources such as eggs, beef liver, chicken, or soy. Because alpha-GPC and choline are available in limited amounts in most foods, many people don’t get enough in their diet.

Research has found that low alpha-GPC levels can cause adverse effects, and research supports the use of alpha-GPC supplementation for various potential benefits, especially memory enhancement and support for other cognitive functions. In some other countries, alpha-GPC is sold as a prescription drug for managing Alzheimer’s disease, but it exists only as a dietary supplement in the U.S. Before you grab some for yourself, let’s take a look at the research available to understand the potential benefit of alpha-GPC.

Alpha-GPC Benefits and Research

Some of the areas of research regarding alpha-GPC’s benefits are still extremely limited, but some areas (like its potential benefits for improving Alzheimer’s symptoms) have been thoroughly researched. Still, keep in mind that Alpha-GPC is a dietary supplement in the U.S. and is not intended to treat any medical condition.

Areas of research interest include:

Preventing and Reversing Cognitive Decline

Various comprehensive reviews have aimed to evaluate the effects of alpha-GPC on older adults experiencing cognitive decline, usually from a form of dementia. In all, the reviews available display over 20 clinical trials and over 4,000 individual subjects.

These reviews confirmed that alpha-GPC supplementation offered “modest improvement of cognitive dysfunction in dementia of neurodegenerative and vascular origin.” Another review described alpha-GPC as having “significant effects on cognitive function with a good safety profile and tolerability.”

Another review compared Alpha-GPC to other therapeutic compounds and found similar results, stating that “among compounds investigated, choline alphoscerate was well tolerated, improved cognitive function in VaD (vascular dementia) patients to a better extent than citicoline and to similar or better extent than other more recently developed drugs.”

Various studies over two decades (1991,1992, 2015, 2017) have confirmed similar nootropic effects in rats. Cognitive enhancement was observed after brain damage, poor blood supply, seizures, and more.

Managing Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder associated with the depletion of acetylcholine, which is why experts originally theorized that alpha-GPC could help prevent cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.

A clinical trial involving 261 patients taking 400 mg alpha-GPC three times daily concluded that supplementation improved all symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Another trial found that it may even boost the effects of a standardized Alzheimer’s treatment, a prescription drug called Donepezil.

Improving Athletic Performance

In addition to its brain-boosting potential, Alpha-GPC has gained popularity as a performance enhancing supplement that potentially improves stamina and recovery.

One 2017 study evaluated the effects of alpha-GPC on 48 college aged males and determined that alpha-GPC “should be considered as an emerging ergogenic supplement.” A 2015 study with a smaller sample size found similar results, reporting that alpha-GPC supplementation could be linked to improved speed, power, and pull force, including significant effects on the lower body.

Another study suggests that 200 mg of alpha-GPC supplementation may increase jump power by an average of 8.5%. A study involving seven male participants using 600 mg of alpha-GPC as a pre-workout supplement found that it significantly increased production of the growth hormone for a short term period of time. The participants also experienced a 14% uptick in bench press force.

One other trial confirmed that alpha-GPC may boost growth hormone (GH) production and could even increase fat burning. The effects on growth hormone production were found to be only temporary.

Recovering from a Stroke

Reviews from 1994 and 2001 suggest that alpha-GPC can help recover brain function prior to a stroke, and can improve cognitive function by up to 70%. These studies were limited, so more evidence is needed to fully understand how alpha-GPC may be used for stroke recovery.

Improving Eyesight

One study evaluated the use of alpha-GPC in 51 patients with Ocular ischemic syndrome, a condition where plaque clogs vessels in the eye that results in vision loss and discomfort. The study found that alpha-GPC supplementation helped heal the retina, improve circulation to the eyes, and improved vision. This study consisted of a small sample size, so more evidence is needed to draw firm conclusions.

Radioprotection

Radiotherapy, a type of radiation therapy used to treat cancer, has damaging side effects because it can destroy healthy tissues in the body while destroying cancerous tissues. Limited animal trials (2012, 2014) found that alpha-GPC may help to reduce tissue damage to the brain and prevent cognitive damage caused by radiotherapy. These trials did not involve any human evidence, so more information is needed to draw a complete conclusion.

How to Use Alpha-GPC

It’s important to note that supplements are not regulated in the same way as medications are in the U.S., so you’ll need to consider a few things about the Alpha-GPC supplement you choose before beginning your dosing regimen. Here are some of the most important things to pay attention to:

A bottle of alpha-GPC capsules, a useful dosing option for daily use.

Source and Quality Importance

The quality of your wellness supplements is incredibly important, especially since supplements are not regulated the same way as prescription medications. Ensure that the Alpha-GPC supplement you buy comes from a trustworthy manufacturer, specifically that uses a third-party testing process to ensure quality. You may also look for a company that is experienced with wellness supplements and uses a cGMP compliant manufacturing facility.

When Should I Take Alpha-GPC?

Because most people take alpha-GPC for the nootropic effects, it’s most often taken in the morning. You can take it as a supplement or mixed into a beverage alongside your breakfast. The key to experiencing the most out of your alpha-GPC supplement is maintaining a regular dosing routine. You’ll want to take your dose daily around the same time each day to maximize the benefits.

How Much Alpha-GPC Should I Take Daily?

There’s no one off suggested dosage for Alpha-GPC, and you should be willing to work with your health care provider to figure out the best dosage for yourself. In clinical studies, the typical dosage used ranges from 250 mg to 1,200 mg per day.

In studies from 2003 and 2014, 400 mg of alpha-GPC was used 3 times daily to potentially help manage dementia and related conditions. The subjects took this dosage daily for 6-12 months.

In a 1994 study regarding the benefit of alpha-GPC for stroke recovery, subjects took a 1,000 mg injection of alpha-GPC daily for one month, followed by an oral daily dose of 400 mg for 5 more months.

In a study concerned with athletic performance, subjects took single daily doses of 250 mg for one week. In other trials, athletes took 600 mg daily for up to one week.

In a study related to alpha-GPC’s effects on eyesight, subjects took 400 mg twice daily for two months.

If you are unsure where to start, it’s best to start on the low end of this dosing spectrum and increase slowly while monitoring your results.

Forms of Alpha-GPC

Typically, you’ll find alpha-GPC in pill form, and the dosage often ranges from 200-400 mg per capsule.

For nootropic benefits, many people look for a more comprehensive brain-boosting blend of alpha-GPC, herbal extracts, amino acids, and other cognitive enhancing vitamins. You may be able to find these nootropic blends in capsule or powder form. The powder form is great for adding to your morning coffee, smoothie, or other favorite foods and drinks.

Alpha-GPC Safety

In the research available, Alpha-GPC is generally described as safe and well-tolerated, including in both humans and animal studies. In Europe, alpha-GPC formulas exist as a prescription drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

In general, alpha-GPC is likely safe when used appropriately, though most sources suggest that you should only use it for a duration of up to 6 months.Some people have reported various mild side effects, like heartburn, headache, dizziness, and skin rash.

Not much research exists to specifically assess the safety or dosage threshold for the many alpha-GPC supplements available in the U.S. Because supplements are not regulated as strictly as prescription drugs, it’s important that you take extra steps as a consumer to ensure that the products you buy are well-made and safe.

Read "Alpha-GPC Side Effects" to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Alpha-GPC good for?

You’ll find anecdotal reports (and some limited research) that suggest that alpha-GPC may be useful for managing neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer's disease, or for generally boosting cognitive performance.

Does Alpha-GPC increase dopamine?

Alpha-GPC works to provide choline to the brain, which subsequently may raise dopamine levels. According to anecdotal reports, alpha-GPC can work to significantly boost mood and brain function.

Is Alpha-GPC the same as choline?

Alpha-GPC is a form of choline, one of the main nutrients essential for optimal brain health. Although it can be produced naturally by the brain, an unbalanced diet can result in low choline levels.

What food is Alpha-GPC in?

Some of the best food sources of choline include beef liver, eggs, fish, nuts, cauliflower and broccoli. For people who do not get enough choline in their diet, an alpha-GPC supplement may be useful.

Can you take Alpha-GPC everyday?

Yes! Most research regarding the benefits of alpha-GPC rely on regular daily doses. Taking Alpha-GPC daily will help maximize the benefits.


Resources

  1. “Choline: An Essential Nutrient for Public Health” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782876/
  2. “Choline alphoscerate (alpha-glyceryl-phosphoryl-choline) an old choline- containing phospholipid with a still interesting profile as cognition enhancing agent” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24156263/
  3. “Cholinergic precursors in the treatment of cognitive impairment of vascular origin: ineffective approaches or need for re-evaluation?” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17331541/
  4. “Choline alphoscerate (alpha-glyceryl-phosphoryl-choline) an old choline- containing phospholipid with a still interesting profile as cognition enhancing agent” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24156263/
  5. “The cholinergic approach for the treatment of vascular dementia: evidence from pre-clinical and clinical studies”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12450245/
  6. “Effect of a new cognition enhancer, alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, on scopolamine-induced amnesia and brain acetylcholine” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1662399/
  7. “L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine antagonizes scopolamine-induced amnesia and enhances hippocampal cholinergic transmission in the rat”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1319912/
  8. “Cerebrovascular and blood-brain barrier morphology in spontaneously hypertensive rats: effect of treatment with choline alphoscerate” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25714975/
  9. “Late treatment with choline alfoscerate (l-alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine, α-GPC) increases hippocampal neurogenesis and provides protection against seizure-induced neuronal death and cognitive impairment”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27765578/
  10. “Alzheimer's disease” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181599/
  11. “Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer's dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12637119/
  12. “The ASCOMALVA (Association between the Cholinesterase Inhibitor Donepezil and the Cholinergic Precursor Choline Alphoscerate in Alzheimer's Disease) Trial: interim results after two years of treatment” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24898643/
  13. “Evaluation of the effects of two doses of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on physical and psychomotor performance” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5629791/
  14. “The effect of 6 days of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on isometric strength” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4650143/
  15. “The effects of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, caffeine or placebo on markers of mood, cognitive function, power, speed, and agility” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4595381/
  16. “Acute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exercise” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3313098/
  17. “Glycerophosphocholine enhances growth hormone secretion and fat oxidation in young adults” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22673596/
  18. “alpha-Glycerophosphocholine in the mental recovery of cerebral ischemic attacks. An Italian multicenter clinical trial” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8030842/
  19. “Choline alphoscerate in cognitive decline and in acute cerebrovascular disease: an analysis of published clinical data” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11589921/
  20. “[Analysis of choline alfoscerate effectiveness in chronic ocular ischemic syndrome]” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27213801/
  21. “Cancer and Radiation Therapy: Current Advances and Future Directions” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3298009/
  22. “Radio-neuroprotective effect of L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine (GPC) in an experimental rat model” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24880750/

 

 

 

 


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