Two popular choline supplements in the market have been getting attention these days. They are CDP-Choline (also known as Citicoline) and Alpha-GPC. The benefits and effects that Alpha-GPC and Citicoline have on the brain are different. According to some studies, CDP-Choline boosts mental energy, focus, and learning more than Alpha-GPC. Alpha-GPC appears to be very effective at fostering brain cell development and repair, while citicoline may protect the brain from injury.
Currently, there is a lot of discussion about the relative efficacy of CDP-Choline and Alpha-GPC. But is one ultimately superior to the other? Is Citicoline superior to Alpha-GPC? Which natural nootropic works best to support cognitive function and brain health? Learn more as we compare Citicoline and Alpha-GPC in this article.
What is Alpha GPC
The brain naturally contains choline in the form of L-Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine (alpha-GPC, choline alfoscerate). They are known as a parasympathomimetic acetylcholine precursor based on several studies. As a result, Alpha GPC became known for its potential benefit in treating Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias .
The amount of choline in Alpha-GPC is about 40% by weight, significantly higher than Citicoline’s 20–25% choline content. Some research suggests that Alpha-GPC is slightly more effective than Citicoline due to the latter’s superior ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which also suggests a slight advantage for Citicoline. Nonetheless, Alpha-GPC is far more effective than choline bitartrate or simple choline. They do this by increasing acetylcholine levels in the brain and crossing the blood-brain barrier.
Alpha GPC Benefits
The main benefits of alpha-GPC are associated with its effects on acetylcholine levels in the brain. Alpha-GPC supplementation has been shown to improve working memory, focus, and learning in numerous double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. One observational study showed that Alpha GPC improves cognition for those with cognitive disorders. This is in addition to other studies where Alpha GPC helps with age-related decline in cognitive abilities .
What is CDP Choline
Citicoline is a psychostimulant or nootropic drug also known as cytidine diphosphate-choline (CDP Choline) and cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine. It is an organic component of brain chemistry. The study showed that CDP Choline could treat dementia and cognitive impairment. Meanwhile, countries outside the US use CDP Choline in treating stroke and other cerebrovascular disorders or those conditions affecting the blood in the brain .
Although it has many other uses, citicoline improves cognitive function. Citicoline may help with age-related memory loss, improve adolescent focus and learning, improve glaucoma patients’ vision, and aid stroke patients’ recovery. Along with other brain disorders, citicoline may be responsible for treating bipolar disorder, lazy eye, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological conditions .
CDP Choline Benefits
Citicoline’s impact on the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is largely responsible for its therapeutic effects. The ability of Citicoline to prevent brain damage brought on by stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant benefit that is frequently overlooked. It is unclear whether this is because of Citicoline’s effects on phosphatidylcholine levels, brain ATP levels, or RNA production. But regardless of how it works, citicoline undoubtedly helps avoid cognitive decline after a stroke or TBI .
Citicoline and Alpha GPC Benefits in Comparison
CDP-Choline and Alpha-GPC have more similarities than differences. Both of them deliver a sizable amount of choline and swiftly cross the blood-brain barrier. Both increase the brain’s production of acetylcholine, which improves various cognitive processes, including attention, learning, memory, and reaction times.
However, researchers discovered that after administering Citicoline, “plasma choline levels showed a similar time course but were significantly lower than those observed after the administration of Alpha-GPC.” This means that, when both cholinergics are dosed equally, Alpha-GPC causes a greater increase in blood choline levels than Citicoline.
The use of Citicoline has been shown in several studies to improve overall cognitive performance in comparison to Alpha-GPC significantly. How is that possible when Alpha-GPC increases the blood’s choline levels? This is because brain choline levels are more significant than plasma choline levels. How well a nootropic crosses the blood-brain barrier is a key factor in determining its potency. Choline cannot improve your cognition if it cannot reach the brain. When it comes to crossing the blood-brain barrier, citicoline seems to be more effective than Alpha-GPC, allowing for a lower dose to produce the same results.
In comparison, alpha-GPC is likely to be more effective in the targeted treatment of cognitive decline. According to clinical studies, Alpha-GPC is probably effective for enhancing cognitive function in people with age-related cognitive decline or impairment. Those conditions mentioned in the study are patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The study does not imply Citicoline’s low effectiveness in treating cognitive decline. It is only because Alpha-GPC has been the research subject in this setting much more thoroughly.
Can you take Alpha-GPC and Citicoline together?
Citicoline and Alpha-GPC both increase acetylcholine synthesis. Both function similarly, passing through the blood-brain barrier to deliver usable choline to the brain. While they both have distinct advantages associated with their non-choline content, this is primarily how they function. It would be completely useless to take two cholinergic medications at once, and it could have negative effects. It is strongly advised not to combine CDP-Choline and Alpha-GPC. Simply decide which choline supplement is best for you, and stick with it!
The ideal choline supplement will depend on your overall needs. Many nootropics users experiment before settling on the most effective choline supplement for them. The best nootropic to start with could be CDP choline. This is because CDP choline showed to improve cognition in low doses. If you don’t get the desired results, you may switch to using Alpha-GPC. You may also check with your healthcare professional about which choline supplement would fit your body’s needs.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
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- Lopez, C. M., Govoni, S., Battaini, F., Bergamaschi, S., Longoni, A., Giaroni, C., & Trabucchi, M. (1991). Effect of a new cognition enhancer, alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, on scopolamine-induced amnesia and brain acetylcholine. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, 39(4), 835–840. https://doi.org/10.1016/0091-3057(91)90040-9
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- Secades, J. J., Alvarez-Sabín, J., Castillo, J., Díez-Tejedor, E., Martínez-Vila, E., Ríos, J., & Oudovenko, N. (2016). Citicoline for Acute Ischemic Stroke: A Systematic Review and Formal Meta-analysis of Randomized, Double-Blind, and Placebo-Controlled Trials. Journal of stroke and cerebrovascular diseases : the official journal of National Stroke Association, 25(8), 1984–1996. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2016.04.010