When it comes to improving memory recall, there are numerous supplements out there that will increase neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, and speed nerve transmission. None of these supplements will be able to exert their effects optimally without a certain essential nutrient known as choline.

What Is Choline?

Choline is an essential nutrient with a chemical structure most similar to the b vitamin class of molecules. It’s used as a precursor for the neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine, and forms an important part of our neuronal cell membranes to help nerve transmission, fluidity, and the structural integrity of our nerve cells.

Babies and small children have the greatest demand for this essential nutrient as their brains grow at an exponential rate. For this reason, human breast milk is among the highest sources of choline (in the form of alpha-GPC).

Choline is used by biohackers to nourish the brain, provide essential precursors for acetylcholine, and optimise nerve transmission. It goes especially well with memory enhancing cholinergics like the Racetams or Noopept, as it helps to prevent some of the side effects of these nootropics.

Although choline is produced in the human body, supplementation has been shown to offer noticeable improvements in cognition. In a similar mechanism to phosphatidylserine, choline supplementation can be used to “preload” the brain with available choline, allowing a special reserve of the compound whenever it needs it most.

Choline loading is becoming ever more popular among biohackers to optimise brain chemistry, preventing any possibility of choline depletion, increasing the plasticity of the brain, and providing a protective effect against neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Choline Builds Our Cell Membranes

The membranes on our nerve cells are highly specialised to transfer electrical impulses through the brain and body. This is how we create and retrieve memories, and perform nearly every psychomotor activity in our bodies. Without this specialised membrane, it would be impossible to transfer this electrical activity through the brain.

Choline from donor sources like alpha-GPC and CDP choline are essential for creating the phospholipid known as “phosphatidylcholine”, a major brain phospholipid [2]. It’s through this mechanism that choline is able to offer such a high level of protection on the brain, and has even been shown to offer improvement towards stroke patients suffering heavy neurological damage [3].

Choline is A Precursor For Acetylcholine

One of the most important neurotransmitters for the function of memory is acetylcholine. Breaking this word down gives us acetyl (a name for a common carbon structure) and choline. This neurotransmitter is essentially an acetyl group of molecules stuck to a choline molecule. This simple, but essential neurotransmitter triggers a charge which is then passed along the neuron. It is the driving force behind a nerve signal.

The importance of this neurotransmitter in memory retrieval has lead researchers to try and develop substances that improve its production (such as the racetams or Noopept), or decrease the rate of breakdown (anti acetylcholinesterases like Huperzine-A). In order for both of these mechanisms to work at all, we need the precursor molecules to build the neurotransmitter in the first place. Our bodies rely on choline for this.

Where Does Choline Come From?

Choline comes from 2 main sources, Alpha-GPC, and CDP choline. Both sources are a combination of choline and another molecule. Once inside the body, the choline molecule is separated, and used wherever it’s needed most within the body. In the case of a biohacker who has already been optimising the physiological processes of the body, this is likely to find its way to the brain where it can be incorporated into new nerve cells, and used to produce the memory neurotransmitter, acetylcholine.

Presence of numerous different choline supplements on the market these two have stood out above the rest for a few main reasons:

  • Safe to use
  • Easily absorbed into the body through the digestive tract
  • Can pass the blood brain barrier
  • Have a high level of efficacy

CDP Choline

CDP choline is the most common choice of choline supplement on the market. It can be used alone to improve memory recall, but is even better when used in combination with other nootropic stacks.

This choline supplement is already used in some countries as a treatment for Alzheimer’s and ADD/ADHD both of which are characterised by poor memory and concentration. The ability for this molecule to penetrate the blood brain barrier helps it reach the brain directly before the liver has a chance to break it down and use it up instead, making even smaller doses more potent than other forms of choline.

Alpha-GPC

Alpha-GPC is naturally produced in the human body, but also comes from extracts of the soy plant (Glycine max). It’s the best choline donor available for promoting memory recall through acetylcholine conversion, and is considered to be as much as twice as potent as CDP choline. In supplemental form, Alpha-GPC has shown protective benefits against Alzheimer’s disease [1], increases acetylcholine binding sites [5], and may prevent choline depletion in combination with cholinergic nootropics. This all around choline supplement has compounding effects on the human brain to make us remember more, protects our brain from degeneration.

Animal studies on alpha-GPC have shown improvements in cognitive performance and accuracy as well as long term memory enhancement that remain several months after stopping the supplement [7].

How To Use Choline

Choline should be on every biohackers radar, and is probably the most well rounded nutritional nootropic available. Its use on brain development and plasticity allow it to support nearly all aspects of brain activity, including memory recall.

Supplementing choline is easy with supplements like Alpha-GPC and CDP choline. The safety and efficacy of these supplements is well tested, and has been proven through various clinical trials on over 11,000 individuals over the years. Specific investigations on the safety of these supplements have also all come to the conclusion that they are safe within the therapeutic range [2, 3].

The dosages of these supplements can vary and there’s a large degree of personal opinion from authorities in the nootropic industry. We recommend starting a supplement like alpha-GPC or CDP choline at a dose of 500 mg/day, broken up into 2 separate doses and working your way up slowly to about 1200mg/day. CDP choline can be taken at slightly higher doses, but should remain below 2000 mg/day.

Where to buy Alpha GPC and CDP Choline

You can find both at a lot of retailers online – we also sell Citicoline at Focus Supplements – in both capsule and pure powder forms. As with all of our supplements, we offer a 100% money-back guarantee and they are both 3rd party tested for purity.

Article References:

1. Toke´s T, Varga G, Garab D, Nagy Z, Fekete G, Tuboly E, Planga´r I, Ma´n I, Szabo´ RE, Szabo´ Z, Volford G, Ghyczy M, Kaszaki J, Boros M, Hideghe´ty K (2014) Peripheral inflammatory activation after hippocampus irradiation in the rat. Int J Radiat Biol 90:1–6

2. Adibhatla, R. M., & Hatcher, J. F. (2005). Cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine (CDP-choline) in stroke and other CNS disorders. Neurochemical research, 30(1), 15-23.

3. Adibhatla, R. M., & Hatcher, J. F. (2005). Cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine (CDP-choline) in stroke and other CNS disorders. Neurochemical research, 30(1), 15-23.

4. Gimenez, R., Raich, J., & Aguilar, J. (1991). Changes in brain striatum dopamine and acetylcholine receptors induced by chronic CDP‐choline treatment of aging mice. British journal of pharmacology, 104(3), 575-578.

5. Trabucchi, M., Govoni, S., & Battaini, F. (1986). Changes in the interaction between CNS cholinergic and dopaminergic neurons induced by L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, a cholinomimetic drug. Il Farmaco; edizione scientifica, 41(4), 325-334.

6. Plangár, I. (2014). Radio-neuroprotective effect of l-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine (GPC) in an experimental rat model. Jour2nal of Neuro-Oncology, 119(2), 253-261. doi:10.1007/s11060-014-1489-z

7. 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.

– Article written by Justin Brooke