Nootropic Profile: Alpha-GPC
Taking alpha-GPC alone doesn't have the same benefit as it does when combined with other nootropics, especially those with cholinergic effects.
Its best application alone is in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease, which has been demonstrated in large, double blind clinical trials to have significant benefits (at the dose of 1200 mg/day). .
For cognitive enhancement, it's best to think of this nootropic as more of an "optimization agent" in the formula. It allows other components to reach their fullest potential.
Alpha-GPC is one of the key ingredients in the popular nootropic formula Alpha Brain.
What Is Alpha-GPC?
Alpha-GPC is a naturally occurring choline compound. It easily passes the blood-brain barrier to provide the necessary choline in order to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
This neurotransmitter is one of the main targets of nootropic substances because it plays such an important role in the formation and retrieval of memories, as well as numerous other important cognitive processes.
Alpha-GPC isn’t the only choline donor of this type but is one of the most popular choices by nootropic manufacturers for several reasons:
It is a naturally occurring substance
It has a high level of potency compared to other choline donors
It easily passes the blood brain barrier
Where Does Alpha-GPC Come From?
Alpha-GPC is actually produced in small amounts in the human body. It's also found in plant sources like soy and sunflower lecithin, and milk.
How Does It Work?
1. Acetylcholine Production
When you combine a choline donor like alpha-GPC with an acetylcholine up-regulation, you're able to optimize both very effectively.
This nootropic doesn't directly "stimulate" acetylcholine production, but does optiomize it through a process referred to as "choline preloading".
Look At It Like This...
...if you hire a contractor to build a house for you, he will order bricks and mortar to build it. If the shipment arrives, but the delivery truck only drops off half the necessary bricks, the contractor will build as much as he can but will ultimatly need to stop and wait for another shipment once the bricks run out.
This is the same with nootropics that work of choline preloading... the contractor is something like a racetam nootropic which initiates the “construction” of acetylcholine... while the bricks are the choline molecules. If there isn’t sufficient choline floating around in the area, the contractor will need to wait for more to get delivered before it can keep building.
2. Growth Hormone And Fat Metabolism
Alpha-GPC has been shown to increase growth hormone levels through the complex actions of acetylcholine-stimulated catecholamine.
What this means, is that through the passive upregulation of acetylcholine, alpha-GPC is able to affect things like fat oxidation and fat metabolism through a secondary interaction with growth hormone levels.
The research done to identify this was specific to young (25 year old) males.
3. Maintaining Cell Membranes
Other benefits of the alpha-GPC molecule involve the phospholipid portion of the molecule.
This is a necessary component of cell membranes throughout the body. Since alpha-GPC can pass the blood brain barrier so easily, this phospholipid becomes quickly available after consumption and is thought to contribute to the repair of various brain cells after damage has occurred.
This is the likely reason so many have reported neuroprotective benefits from taking alpha-GPC long-term.
Alpha-GPC is even thought to improve blood flow, oxygenation, and energy metabolism in the brain.
The dosage for alpha-GPC is heavily debated, however, most agree that the daily range is somewhere between 60 and 1400 mg spread out throughout the day.
The daily dosage should be broken up into 2, 3, or even 4 doses throughout the day and is best combined with other nootropic compounds targeting acetylcholine production.
Alpha-GPC is approximately 40% choline by weight. This means with a 400 mg dose, you will receive about 160 mg choline (assuming 100% absorption).
Whenever starting out with a new nootropic, it is wise to begin the dosage very low. Start with about 100 mg per day, and work your way up.
Some report difficulty sleeping if alpha-GPC is taken too late in the day, so playing around with this dose is recommended.
A good starter dose is to take 100 mg in the morning for the first 2 days...Then move up to 2 doses of 200 mg for the next 2 days. Then 400, then 600.
See how it affects you, and either maintain this dose or dial it back until you get it just right. It is important to note that the effectiveness of alpha-GPC in combination with racetams is exponentially increased.
Alpha Brain, which is a popular nootropic formula with excellent feedback across the board, uses only 60 mg of alpha-GPC in their formula.
You really don’t need much for this stuff to cause noticeable effects in the body when combined intelligently with other synergistic nootropic compounds.
Everybody reacts differently to different nootropics, so the best way to find the right dosage is to see how it affects your own body. Just because one person prefers a hero dose of 2000 mg alpha-GPC doesn’t mean you'll find the same dose beneficial.
Your body may prefer using a dose as low as 200 mg per day and that’s fine. Listen to your body.
Is Alpha-GPC Safe?
Alpha-GPC is considered to be one of the safest nootropic substances available.
It isn’t regulated by the FDA, and no serious side effects have been reported from using this nootropic at the time of this writing.
Although alpha-GPC is safe, some report difficulty sleeping if it is consumed too late in the day. The correction for this is to avoid taking alpha-GPC past 1 or 2, depending on when you go to sleep at the end of the day.
This doesn’t happen to everybody, but is something to pay attention to if starting alpha-GPC for the first time and are unsure of how it might affect you.
Leave Us Your Comments
Have you had any experience with alpha-GPC? What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them!
The Sunlight Experiment
(Updated October 2018)
Recent Blog Posts:
Plangár, I. (2014). Radio-neuroprotective effect of l-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine (GPC) in an experimental rat model. Journal of Neuro-Oncology, 119(2), 253-261. doi:10.1007/s11060-014-1489-z
Moreno, M. D. J. M. (2003). Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer's dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Clinical therapeutics, 25(1), 178-193.
Kawamura, T., Okubo, T., Sato, K., Fujita, S., Goto, K., Hamaoka, T., & Iemitsu, M. (2012). Glycerophosphocholine enhances growth hormone secretion and fat oxidation in young adults. Nutrition, 28(11), 1122-1126.