Memory Enhancement With Alpha-GPC
(this is a share from a popular post from Test Taking Success
Summary of Potential Benefits:
Improved memory and recall
Increased strength/power in athletes
Treatment of stroke, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
In this next part, I’ll be discussing Alpha-glycerophosphocholine (Alpha-GPC or α-GPC). This compound functions roughly as a neurotransmitter and is known for its cognitive enhancement properties as well as the prevention of cognitive decline. Athletes also use it to enhance power output. It’s not likely that doing bench press is part of your exams, so let’s focus on the mental benefits of α-GPC.
While a number of foods contain reasonable amounts of dietary choline, oral supplements are the most efficient at getting choline into the brain where it can do its work. By increasing brain levels of choline and subsequent conversion to acetylcholine, the ability to form and recall memories is enhanced. Alpha-GPC is used in the treatment of a variety of age-related neurodegenerative conditions as well as stroke due to its neuroprotective effects.
Most of the cognitive-enhancing data in younger subjects come from rodent studies, but evidence supports that α-GPC is useful for those with mild to moderate neurodegeneration due to Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been shown to improve memory in young subjects after chemically induced amnesia.
Alpha-GPC occurs naturally in red meat products and organ tissue but found only in small amounts in naturally occurring sources.
Supplements can be a reliable way to achieve the desired nootropic effects. Note that choline complexed to phosphatidylcholine is 12 times more bioavailable and gets into the brain faster (crossing the blood-brain barrier).
Some food sources include:
* Oat bran
* 2% Milk
* Cheese including cottage cheese, cream cheese
* Meat sources: chicken breast, liver, pork, beef liver, cod, salmon
* Bananas. blueberry, avocado, cantaloupe
Please note that CDP Choline is not the same as alpha-GPC. There is some data that CDP can be beneficial for younger people with reduced processing speed and poor verbal memory at baseline.
Mechanism Of Action
The primary mechanism of action is through the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine. Alpha-GPC increases dopamine concentration in the frontal cortex, increases transport of dopamine and facilitates the increased release of dopamine by stimulating the appearance of receptors.
Choline itself acts on a subtype of nicotinic receptors that are involved in long-term memory. Choline does not cause desensitization or downregulation of this receptor like other agonists do, nicotine for example. By supplementing with choline, it actually increases this receptor subtype.
Alpha-GPC also increases serotonin more than the CDP-choline variety. Both dopamine and serotonin are essential neurotransmitters for memory and mood.
Another study noted increased attention and reaction time during acute stress (think exam time or important test) with Alpha-GPC use along with caffeine.
Some of you may be familiar with oxiracetam or aniracetam for their nootropic properties but note that Alpha-GPC was capable of activating the hippocampus (memory) to a similar degree.
Alpha-GPC also stimulates growth hormone and has been shown to increase strength by up to 14%. This affect is likely temporary and related to the timing of ingestion.
Alpha GPC is generally well tolerated with a wide range of dosing. For most adults, the range of acceptable cumulative daily dosage of 300-1200 mg taken in one or two doses has been documented as safe and effective.
A single dose on the larger end of the spectrum influences the brain for up to 24 hours but is felt to spike somewhere between 1-3 hours after taking an oral supplement.
Anxiety or nervousness
GI upset including nausea, diarrhea, and cramps
Can result in dizziness and low blood pressure
As always, common sense prevails and consult your personal physician before taking supplements. See disclaimer about this education site.