As people get more concerned about their brain health and performance, they search for ways to protect their brain and give it more fuel. One of the ways to do it is by taking the right nootropics. And one of the most potent nootropics for cognition is choline. Two choline forms stand out – citicoline and alpha GPC. But which is better? Let’s check it out.
What Is Choline?
Choline is an essential brain nutrient that is found in a variety of foods. [*] It is required for normal brain function and general health. Your liver can make a small amount of choline, but recent research shows that we all need to get more choline from foods for optimal health.
Choline impacts brain function, your nervous system, liver, and muscle function. To look more in details, choline is responsible for:
- Cell structure: It is used to make fats that support cell membranes [*]
- Cell messaging: It is involved in the production of neurotransmitters
- DNA synthesis: It is involved in the DNA synthesis
- Fat metabolism: An inadequate choline can result in higher cholesterol levels [*]
- Well-functioning nervous system: Choline is involved in memory, learning, movements, and regulating heartbeat
An RDI (Reference Daily Intake) has not been established, but an adequate intake (AI) is 425 mg per day for an adult woman and 550 mg per day for an adult man. Deficiency is rare but unhealthy.
So, what is the best choline form?
Citicoline (cytidine diphosphocholine) is known as CDP choline. It is made of choline and cytidine. CDP choline has cognitive-promoting properties and is used for treating memory impairments. Studies show that supplementing citicoline can:
- Enhance attention [*]
- Improve visual acuity [*]
- Improve memory [*]
- Slow cognitive decline [*]
- Increase motor speed [*]
- Increase brain energy [*]
A study showed an increase in brain energy by 13.6% in healthy individuals, who were given 500 mg of Cognizin per day. Another study showed improved attention and focus in middle-aged women, who were taking 250 mg per day.
Most improvements are seeing in a period of 1-2 months.
Citicoline is regarded as a safe supplement that rarely comes with any side effects. The branded version of citicoline is Cognizin, which has been used in over 8 scientific studies. The recommended daily dosage of citicoline is 250 mg.
Alpha GPC (alpha glycerophosphocholine) is another popular choline supplement that is found in many brain supplements. Due to the legal limits, choline supplements made in the US often contain alpha GPC, whereas supplements made in the EU contain citicoline.
Alpha GPC is a natural compound that delivers choline to the brain and increases the production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine (ACh) is neuromodulation important for new learning and memory. [*]
Based on the available studies, Alpha GPC provides several benefits:
- It significantly improves cognition in people with Alzheimer’s disease [*]
- It increases power output and may increase growth hormone [*]
- It slows down cognitive decline [*]
- It enhances memory and learning
Also, Alpha GPC has a therapeutic role in the cognitive recovery of patients with Alzheimer’s and acute stroke.
A standard dosage of alpha GPC is 300-600 mg, but it is well-tolerated up to 1200 mg per day. It is considered a safe supplement.
Citicoline vs Alpha GPC – Similarities
There are many important similarities between these two nootropics. Let’s check them out.
Increased Acetylcholine Production
Both compounds increase acetylcholine production. That is the reason why they are used for improving memory and enhancing learning. Acetylcholine plays a major role in these two functions.
Citicoline and Alpha GPC have been shown to be neuroprotective and slow down cognitive decline. Alpha GPC is often given to people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Safe And Side-Effects Free
Based on the available information and my personal experience, both nootropics are safe and side-effects free. However, before supplementing them, make sure to consult your doctor.
Alpha GPC vs Citicoline- Differences
Are there any differences between the nootropics? As you will see, there are a few important ones.
Sympathetic/Parasympathetic Nervous System Activation
CDP choline activates the sympathetic nervous system, which means it makes you more alert. That is why it is considered a psychostimulant nootropic.
Alpha GPC, on the other hand, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is related to calmness.
If you want to boost your focus or attention, CDP choline is the better of the two.
Pre-workout Vs Post-workout
Alpha GPC is more of a post-workout compound, whereas citicoline is more of a pre-workout compound. Many people take alpha GPC before a workout, which could demotivate them instead of pushing them further.
A preliminary study shows that supplementing alpha GPC may increase the production of growth hormone and help with muscle recovery. That has not been shown with citicoline.
Citicoline Amplifies Other Nootropics
Some evidence shows that supplementing citicoline can amplify other nootropics. I have noticed stronger effects when I was supplementing citicoline with other brain nootropics, whereas I was taking nootropics without citicoline.
Because of that, I recommend combining citicoline with potent nootropic compounds. But of course, do it with caution or consult with me first.
Which Choline Supplement Is Better?
Many wonders which is the better choline supplement – alpha GPC or citicoline? As you have seen, both choline compounds have some advantages and disadvantages. Based on the available amount of data, legal status, and my experience, I prefer citicoline.
Citicoline has more proven benefits, it is legal in the US and EU, and it amplifies other nootropics. If I have to choose only one nootropic of the two, I would easily pick citicoline.
Now, some brands recommend combining both nootropics for “ultimate results.” While this may be a way to go about it, I am currently skeptical. The problem is that to avoid an overdose of choline, you would need to add a smaller dosage of both choline compounds in a supplement. Since you need to take 250 mg of citicoline and 300 mg of alpha GPC to get the effects, it is a question of what happens if you take a lower dosage of both nootropics together.
Sadly, we lack studies that would confirm that combining two choline supplements at a lower dosage is equally or even more effective than taking one supplement at a scientifically proven dosage. Until we know more about it, I will continue taking and recommending citicoline.
Be Aware Of Overdose
Even though I mentioned that supplementing sources of choline is considered safe, you still need to be aware of a potential overdose. The problem is that we can get choline from eating foods like:
- Shiitake mushrooms, etc.
In eating just 4 eggs per day, you will already overdose on choline. If you take a choline supplement as well, you may suffer from potential side effects.
That’s why many people who eat a high amount of meats have issues with nootropic supplements that contain choline.
On the other hand, people who eat a plant-based diet, usually benefit from supplementing choline. So be aware of that.
A choline supplement is essential for boosting brain power and cognitive function. Choline increases the production of acetylcholine, the important neurotransmitter that can help us with learning and memory. It positively affects dopamine production as well.
Because of the mentioned benefits, we recommend supplementing citicoline, but alpha GPC is far from a bad nootropic either.
To amplify the effects of nootropics, combine a choline source with other effective nootropics. Click on the button to find our top-rated nootropic supplements with choline.