What Is Citicoline?
Citicoline is a nutritional supplement popular for enhancing cognition. It’s especially popular for protecting the brain from age-related cognitive decline or other forms of memory impairment. Our body naturally creates citicoline as an intermediary in the production of phospholipids — which themselves are a key component of cell membranes, especially in the brain.
You can find citicoline in capsulated form, usually in combination with other nootropics.
The Science Behind Citicoline
Citicoline is a nutritional prodrug — meaning that it’s converted in the body into the active constituents. In its raw form, citicoline doesn’t have much effect on the body. It needs to first be processed by the liver — where it’s converted into choline and cytidine (and later uridine).
Choline is used to manufacture neurotransmitters in the brain like acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is critically important in the process of learning and memory, as well as muscle movement.
A lot of nootropics are designed to work through the effects of this neurotransmitter — such as the nootropic powerhouses piracetam and aniracetam.
By providing the raw materials to manufacture acetylcholine, CDP Choline can help optimise for both learning and memory.
Cytidine may be used as is — or later converted to uridine.
Both cytidine and uridine are nucleotides that make up nucleic acid in our RNA.
RNA is required for all cellular processes. The information stored in the DNA is transferred to RNA where it’s then converted into proteins and other compounds manufactured by the cell.
Uridine is especially important for brain health because it’s involved with the P2Y2 receptors — which is involved with nerve growth factor (NGF). Together NGF and the P2Y2 receptor regulate the regeneration of nerve cells in the brain.
This process is commonly referred to as neuroplasticity — the ability for the brain to change and repair itself once it’s become damaged.
The cause of damage could be traumatic injury — but more commonly the cause is internal.
Buildups of misshapen proteins like amyloid beta or TAU proteins can lead to a gradual shrinkage in the grey matter of the brain.
This grey matter is where most of our higher thought takes place.
Without high density, in our grey matter we begin to lose our edge. Everything from memory to decision making can start to suffer.
Other Effects of Citicoline
Citicoline has an incredibly diverse set of benefits to offer the brain.
On top of providing nutritional support for the manufacture of nerve cells, neurotransmitters, and RNA, it also interacts with the hypothalamus — the region in the brain responsible for controlling the stress response.
People are using the compound to improve the brains ability to resist the negative effects of stress — this is the same mechanism of action for adaptogens like Rhodiola or Ashwagandha.
Is Citicoline The Supplement For Me?
Citicoline has many uses — it provides protection from age-related loss of grey matter in the brain, supports the stress response system in the hypothalamus, provides nutritional support for the RNA and neurotransmitters, and is involved with glucose metabolism in the brain.
Most people take the compound for its neuroprotective effects long-term. However, others prefer to use the supplement to promote memory and concentration and to prime the brain for upcoming periods of emotional and physical stress.