Alpha-GPC stands for L-Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine, choline alfoscerate. It’s a mouthful but the reason that it matters is because of the word choline! Alpha-GPC is therefore a type of choline that readily crosses the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB), which means that it is good at directly accessing your brain.
But now that leaves the question: what is choline? Choline is an essential nutrient that our bodies need (called essential because we use it faster than our bodies can produce it and therefore need external sources). It’s a water-soluble nutrient, meaning that it impacts the health of our cell membranes. Very importantly though, choline is a precursor (i.e. building block) of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the body that communicate important messages inside of us to regulate most bodily functions. Acetylcholine specifically is important for encoding memories, reasoning, concentration, cognition and growth of new brain cells (neuroplasticity). A lack of acetylcholine has been associated with ADHD and Alzheimer’s Disease.
To summarise, here is the easy peasy science: We need to get choline from somewhere outside of our bodies to make acetylcholine inside the body to OPTIMIZE our brain health. Important food sources of choline are egg yolks, liver, dairy products, certain grains like quinoa, cruciferous vegetables and quite happily, bacon!
However, one of the most effective ways of looking after your choline stores turns out to be Alpha-GPC, because Alpha-GPC is typically more bioavailable for brain benefits than other sources of choline. As noted, it can easily cross the BBB, which isn’t true for all sources of choline. You could supplement with choline directly, but Alpha-GPC seems to have become the preferred nootropic for choline supplementation amongst experienced and newbie nootropic users!
The Importance of Choline and Alpha-GPC
Choline is so important to our nerve function and cognition, that without it, we wouldn’t be able to think, move, remember anything or even sleep. Quite something when you think that it’s a nutrient that we need to mostly obtain from the fuel that we put in our bodies!
Alpha-GPC we know is kind of like the rock star of cholines, especially as it is used throughout the body. Not only is it vitally important to our brain health, but it also aids in building lean muscle mass, producing human growth hormone (important for muscle building) and fuels us with energy.
How does Alpha-GPC work?
Firstly, as already mentioned, by boosting acetylcholine in the body. There are human studies showing that Alpha-GPC has the ability to allow healthy young people to memorise things better and also retain memories better under stress when supplementing with Alpha-GPC relative to a placebo group.
Due to acetylcholine, the efficiency of communication between neurons in your brain is improved. Think of it as building the fastest and strongest chemical messengers for your brain postal service. This increase in signalling in the brain boosts memory, learning, mental processing abilities and mental clarity.
Secondly, the aforementioned water-solubility of choline means that Alpha-GPC directly impacts the development of cell membranes in your cerebral cortex (basically the outer layer of “grey matter” that is responsible for information processing in your brain). Because it controls intelligence, motor functioning, organisation, planning and even your personality, using Alpha-GPC has both anecdotally as well as in studies proven to be a very impressive nootropic.
If Alzheimer’s is a concern for you, a placebo-controlled study showed that three times daily administration of 400mg of Alpha-GPC showed improvement in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, more so than a number of pharmaceuticals on the market!
Main Benefits of Alpha-GPC
- Increased learning
- Improved memory
- Heightened sensory perception
- Increased focus
- Increase growth hormone in all ages
- Increases dopamine
- Boost nerve growth factor receptors in the brain
- Restore bioavailability of acetylcholine
- Improved motor skills
When you take Alpha-GPC, it is able to quickly enter the brain. Once there, it puts a booster pack on the signalling messengers to boost signal transmission. Brain function and learning are directly impacted by the secretion of acetylcholine. Winner!
Alpha-GPC for Other Nootropics
One of the main reasons that I’m so interested in Alpha-GPC is because we find that when you combine it with just about any other nootropic, it’s almost like giving that nootropic extra gas. For example, it works really well in combination with racetams (particularly Noopept) to enhance the mental clarity effects of that nootropic. This works because your choline stores are turned over faster, and therefore enhance the functions of the other nootropics!
Another favourite combination for Alpha-GPC is caffeine and many people experience enhanced creativity and focus when combining the two. It’s also an excellent way to get a kick out of bed if you struggle waking up and to get focused in the mornings! Check out Kimera Koffee’s Amber Roast or Dark Roast which combines Alpha-GPC with caffeine.
Alpha-GPC for Ageing
There is so much we can do from a diet, exercise and lifestyle standpoint to slow ageing down significantly. However, we cannot get away from the fact that our brain chemistry does change over time. We may start noticing slower reaction times and difficulty with memory recall. This is in large part due to degenerating cell membranes and lower levels of acetylcholine, the two factors associated with Alpha-GPC’s efficacy.
Supplementing with Alpha-GPC would therefore appear to be a very sound strategy for preventing or delaying neurodegenerative diseases of ageing.
My Review of Alpha-GPC
We do make some Alpha-GPC in our bodies, but it’s important to supplement with it because studies show that we don’t get enough choline from our modern diets. In fact, most of the studies mentioned here include dosages of up to 1,200mg daily (taken three times a day at 400mg each), and the science shows that because our bodies are naturally able to produce Alpha-GPC, it is generally well-tolerated and safe in our bodies. In rare instances, there may be too much choline in your body, resulting in headaches, anxiety, diarrhoea and fatigue, so it’s important to be aware of this if you’re supplementing with high levels.
I love supplementing with Alpha-GPC for the following reasons:
- It seems to give me an immediate boost of energy, excellent for before workouts. It also demonstrates that it’s best not taken at night because it will interfere with your sleep due to this energy boost.
- It supercharges the other nootropics I take, particularly caffeine and L-Theanine. Stacking it with other nootropics is a very powerful tool to maximise benefits.
- Protecting my brain health is very important to me. The studies convinced me that the use of Alpha-GPC will keep my brain younger for longer.
- Improved growth hormone production: it is of course difficult to directly attribute the use of a supplement to a change in our bodies, but my experience has been a better performance in the gym. The studies suggest that Alpha-GPC may have an impact on building muscle (which results in fat loss) and it may be a variety of other factors, but I have found this to be the case.
The Alpha-GPC made by NeuroActive is the only source of Alpha-GPC that I supplement with because I trust the brand to source the cleanest, highest quality ingredients and it really seems to work for me. Other reviewers have mentioned mental clarity, reduced migraines and stronger exercise performance, which completely lines up with my experience of the product.
If your brain health (both immediate mental performance and long-term health) is important to you, I definitely think that NeuroActive’s Alpha GPC is an excellent nootropic to consider adding to your stack!
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- Thea is the founder of Neolaia — Biohacking SA and passionate about all things biohacking, functional medicine, holistic and ancestral wellness. She enjoys the occasional triathlon, is fanatic about yoga and the gym and loves n=1 biohacking experiments more than anything else! Learning about the latest in scientific research for health and wellness and applying this knowledge is what makes her happiest!
This information does not serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is for informational purposes only and does not provide a comprehensive explanation of the different compounds. Always consult your doctor first when making any changes to medication or supplementation.