If you’re a regular user of mental enhancement supplements (aka nootropics), you’ve probably already heard of alpha-GPC (alpha-glycerophosphocholine), a natural choline-based supplement that is often taken to improve physical and mental stamina.
How Does Alpha-GPC Work?
Alpha-GPC is a choline compound naturally found in small amounts in our bodies. It positively stimulates the cholinergic system, which is responsible for cognitive functions like thinking and memory recall.
Chemicals that affect the cholinergic system typically exhibit one of two general effects:
- They tend to make us think slower, become lethargic, and have difficulty forming or recalling memories. These are typically classed as anticholinergics (eg: Benadryl); or
- They enhance acetylcholine production, thereby improving brain functioning and memory recall. This is typically what happens when one takes cholinergic supplements (cholinergics) like alpha-GPC.
Choline is naturally present in our bodies in small amounts, and can be obtained through the diet. But since we don’t tend to get enough via our diets alone, many choose to supplement their diets with choline-based supplements like alpha-GPC.
Related Content: The Brain-Boosting Benefits of Acetylcholine
Top 5 Alpha-GPC Benefits and Uses
Alpha-GPC provides the body with the building blocks to create more choline, which can bolster our mental focus and stamina in a variety of ways.
Studies suggest that a diet supplemented with Choline can help our memories and might even help to slow down age-related memory loss and associated disorders. One study showed that rats with induced amnesia reversed memory loss via alpha-GPC supplementation. People who are deficient in choline may have a difficult time concentrating and might even display symptoms of ADHD.
Research shows that Choline supplementation can enhance our ability to learn new concepts such as language, a factor which is also tied to its ability to improve our overall memory. Conversely, choline deficiencies can make it extremely difficult to learn things in school or study for tests.
Research shows that choline may be useful in enhancing clarity in both thought and speech, and thus has been proposed as a possible therapy for those struggling with speech disorders. This makes sense, given that it enhances our brain's’ ability to quickly retrieve memories and information.
It is thought that Alpha-GPC acts as a dopaminergic, which means that it can positively influence our mood, motivation, and ability to feel pleasure. This study investigated the effects of alpha-GPC and deduced that it has a positive (though indirect) effect on dopamine production.
This makes it a possibly useful treatment for people with dopamine-related cognitive diseases like Parkinson’s.
Alpha-GPC may help to fight fatigue, and not just for athletes and bodybuilders who do turn to the supplement regularly to boost physical stamina. Adding more choline to your diet may actually help to prevent mental fatigue and “brain fog.”
Related Content: The Ultimate Resource for Nootropics
How to Take Alpha-GPC
Alpha-GPC has proven to be quite effective when taken on its own, but it may be more powerful when stacked with other cognitive enhancers.
Bulk powder is typically cheaper and more versatile, since you can easily measure out your own doses. It’s also more likely to be free of impurities. Capsules, on the other hand, are pre-weighed, pre-packaged, and very convenient for people who are too busy to fumble around measuring powder every morning.
Related Content: Total Brain Health Smoothie
Once you get your alpha-GPC, you need to figure out the optimal dosage range. Alpha-GPC is made up of about 40% choline, so if you take 1000 mg of alpha-gpc, that’s about 400 mg of choline. It’s recommended that you start low, around 300 mg per day, and work your way slowly up to 600 mg.
A popular “stack” is alpha-GPC, noopept, and piracetam. When stacking alpha-GPC with other compounds, it is recommended to start at below the minimum does mentioned above, so 200-250 mg should be plenty. Then you can work your way up from there.
How Safe is alpha-GPC?
This is one of the safest and best-tolerated cognitive enhancers, even when taken in the long term. Side effects are minimal, however, if you take more than is recommended, you may experience side effects like nervousness, anxiety, diarrhea, stomach upset, and/or headaches.
Note that these symptoms can also occur in people who are hypersensitive to choline.
Alpha-GPC is not recommended for those taking anticholinergic drugs. Many prescription antihistamines have potent anticholinergic effects, so make sure you check your medications before using these types of supplements. Those with low blood pressure should also be wary of taking any supplements that could interfere with blood pressure levels.
Like most other compounds, it’s recommended to cycle your supplement routine for optimal health and effectiveness. However, there isn’t a whole lot of evidence to suggest that not cycling is actually dangerous.