Alpha GPC, also known as L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine, is a nootropic known to boost memory, learning, focus, muscle gain and power output in athletes, and help prevent against age-related cognitive decline.
While this compound is found in small quantities in food, including eggs, liver, dairy, and cruciferous vegetables, supplementation can lead to higher activity and benefits in our bodies and brains.
What is Alpha GPC (AKA Glycerylphosphorylcholine)
Chemically this supplement is glycerylphosphorylcholine made more lipophilic with an added acetyl group, allowing it to easily cross the blood-brain barrier. It is thanks to this ability to enter into the brain that makes it so useful for brain health and function.
Very few choline-containing supplements are able to cross over the blood-brain barrier - alpha GPC and citicoline are the two most effect supplements for this purpose. It’s known to be one of the most bioavailable sources of choline on the market and boosts not just brain choline levels but systemic concentrations of choline as well.
How Does it Work - Mechanism of Action
This supplement is a cholinergic compound, meaning that it helps to increase concentrations of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) in the brain.
ACh is important for memory formation, human growth hormone secretion, a healthy anxiety response, and the ability to focus.
When we consume choline from our diets, it is converted into ACh through a number of steps in our brains. The amount of ACh produced is dependent on how much choline is available, absorbed, and delivered into the brain.
One way to get around this limitation is by supplementing with alpha GPC.
Unlike other dietary and supplemental forms of choline, alpha GPC is produced in our brains when cellular membranes containing choline are broken down. What this means is that when we supplement with this compound, it’s broken down in our brains and quickly converted into ACh.
Alpha GPC is made up of glycerophosphate and choline. Thanks to the glycerophosphate, this drug has also demonstrated an ability to enhance cellular membrane structure.
Other studies have found this compound to increase dopamine, serotonin, growth hormone, and GABA levels.
Alpha GPC Nootropic Supplement Benefits
Memory enhancement is what this nootropic is best known for. Thus far improvement in memory has been found mostly in animal studies and in elderly patients. This benefit is largely thanks to the boost in ACh in the hippocampus.
There is one study where it was found to help restore memory in healthy young participants following induced amnesia. (7)
Protects the Brain
Through its ability to promote neurogenesis, which is the growth and development of new brain cells, and repair cell membranes, this nootropic helps to protect cognitive function and brain health.
When you lift weights the increase in strength and muscle mass and decrease in fat are largely thanks to increases in growth hormone (GH) caused by exercise.
This supplement has demonstrated the ability to boost exercised-induced serum GH and bench press force after supplementation of 600 mg 90 minutes before resistance exercise (2).
This boost in GH may help to improve power output in athletes, increase the muscle-building potential of exercise, and help you recover more quickly from the gym.
While there are no studies confirming any correlation between supplementation with alpha GPC and testosterone, many users report experiencing the side effects that come from elevated testosterone levels, such as increased libido. It is possible that these effects were thanks to the boost in growth hormone, not a change in testosterone, however more studies need to be conducted to confirm this.
Focus, Attention, Mental Energy, and Mood
In one study on alpha GPC, supplementation led to an increase in frontal cortex and cerebellum dopamine levels while also increasing frontal cortex and striatum serotonin levels. (3) A boost in these feel-good neurotransmitters may help to improve focus, energy levels, and mood.
The same study that demonstrated the ability of this drug to improve the memory impairment in healthy young participants also found an effect on attention, with increased attention in the treatment group. (7)
These effects could be partly thanks to growth hormone, which is known to help with mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, improve ability to concentrate, and fight general fatigue.
Additionally, many online users report enhanced focus and attention when taking this compound.
Protects Against Age-Related Cognitive Decline
In a meta analysis of thirteen clinical trials, it was concluded that this drug helps to improve cognitive symptoms characteristic of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke, among other age-related diseases linked to cognitive decline. (5)
These symptoms were mainly centered around memory and attention, the same benefits that many healthy adults report when taking this nootropic. The findings were so encouraging that the researchers concluded that future studies should confirm the efficacy of this drug in helping patients with certain diseases achieve functional recovery.
Anxiety and Depression
Having higher choline concentrations is negatively correlated with anxiety in humans (6). Thanks to alpha GPC providing a source of choline for the brain, this supplement may be able to help decrease anxiety symptoms. Healthy growth hormone levels are also known to help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Other Potential Benefits
Studies have found that this compound may act to help:
Increase dopamine content in the brain. This benefit may help those with Parkinson’s disease. (3)
Boost hepatic fat oxidation, and thus may help reduce fat buildup in the liver. (11)
Help those with low iron levels by enhancing nonheme iron absorption. (12)
Boost energy if taken before a workout, as reported by user reviews
Increase sex drive, as reported by user reviews
Improve ADHD symptoms when stacked with Piracetam by improving attention and motivation
Dosage: How Much Should I Take
Neurohackers typically take anywhere from 300-600 mg per day of this nootropic. When it comes to specific conditions, such as age-related memory problems, the dosage is normally higher. When it comes to cognitive decline, the dosage typical in studies is 1,200 mg divided into three doses throughout the day.
Alpha GPC Dosage with Noopept
This nootropic is known to stack well with noopept for the purpose of boosting mental energy, focus, mood, short- and long-term memory, and learning. Noopept belongs to the racetam family, and as such, draws heavily on the ACh reservoirs in the brain. Thanks to this, it is important to pair noopept with a quality, highly bioavailable form of choline, such as alpha GPC.
General dosing with noopept is about 10-30 mg twice daily, which can then be paired with 200-300 mg alpha GPC twice daily.
Can You Overdose
No overdoses have been reported, however side effects are more common at higher dosages.
Safety & Side Effects
One of the most common side effects of this supplement are headaches. This is thanks to excessive choline accumulation, which is often accompanied by dizziness. If you experience this side effect, it is recommended to take a couple of days off until you begin to feel better.
Other side effects include:
Low blood pressure
Long Term Effects
It is likely that long term use may result in lower risk of age-related cognitive decline and diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Alpha GPC Reviews: Reddit User Experiences
“Alpha gpc is underrated imo when ppl say its optional to dose it alongside racetams for headache prevention. On its own it can really improve my workouts and motivation outside the gym. Alpha gpc and uridine are my fav mood enhancers.” Robtobin1, Reddit review of Alpha GPC
“The alpha gpc is absolutely awesome. I must have been deprived of choline because before I was groggy all day and had some low level of brain fog. I’ve just been taking the alpha gpc, l theanine, b complex, multi, and fish oil and I have been feeling absolutely great. My lifts at the gym have more energy, I can focus more easily, and I find I even have more motivation.” Reaper59, Reddit review of 350 mg twice daily
I've been experiencing the same effects as OP. Started taking 300mg of Alpha GPC on Monday of this week and cannot express enough how happy- as well as surprised- I am with this supplement. Reddit review of Alpha GPC
I take 300 mg twice a day. Sometimes on weekends I forget to take it and my wife is convinced that it effects my mood. She says I seem happier when I take it. That along with noopept really help me stay focused at work. Reddit review of Alpha GPC
Using Alpha GPC
Alpha GPC is a water-soluble compound that is fast acting - many users report feeling the mental benefits in as little as one hour. It’s best to take this supplement with food twice daily as it has a short half-life of 4-6 hours with a peak around 1-2 hours post ingestion.
Alpha GPC Stacks
As the most bioavailable form of choline, this supplement is a beneficial addition to many nootropic stacks.
Alpha GPC with Piracetam
Piracetam is one of the safest and most well-tolerated nootropics of the racetam family. Piracetam works to improve cognitive function, motivation, mood, memory, learning, mental clarity and energy, attention, and even enhance vision and sound quality. It largely acts through an increase in uptake of ACh.
In order for your body to create enough ACh for this racetam to be effective, it’s often necessary to include a quality, highly bioavailable source of choline. Alpha GPC is one of the best candidates as it is highly bioavailable and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Many neurohackers who have used these two nootropics together report experiencing amplified by pairing them together - in other words, they seem to act synergistically to boost the benefits even more than would be expected by just adding the benefits of each together.
Taking this nootropic with piracetam can also help to avoid some of the side effects of piracetam alone, such as headache, which can occur when you do not have sufficient choline levels in your body.
Typical piracetam dosage ranges from about 1.5 to 5 grams daily. You will want to take about ¼ to ⅛ the amount of alpha GPC as you do piracetam. For example, if you take 2 grams of piracetam you’re looking at about 250-500 mg of alpha GPC.
Alpha GPC and Caffeine
Alpha GPC and caffeine can be a great combination when it comes to improving physical and mental performance. (10) Each of the compounds on their own have been found to increase cognitive function and physical performance. Because they work through different pathways, their individual benefits can work well together.
Caffeine is known to help increase focus and energy through stimulation of the central nervous system. This boost in energy and focus can be paired with the learning, memory, and exercise benefits experienced with this nootropic.
In one study that examined a supplement made from alpha GPC, caffeine, and a few other compounds, it was found that college students experienced an improvement in reaction time, focus, and feelings of alertness following exercise-induced stress. (9)
Uridine and Alpha GPC
The synergistic benefits between uridine and alpha GPC are well known. When stacked together they are known as “Mr Happy Stack.” They work together to help boost mood, cognitive function, and energy levels. The one common problem that users report is a problem sleeping thanks to too much simulation.
It is recommended to take roughly equal amounts of each nootropic. You can start with around 200 mg of each in the morning and slowly increase if desired. It is best not to take this combination late in the day due to the increased energy.
Comparisons to Other Nootropics
Citicoline vs Alpha GPC
Citicoline, also known as CDP choline, is another cholinergic nootropic that works largely through boosting ACh levels by providing a source of choline for the brain. Both of these drugs offer similar nootropic benefits, including enhanced memory, learning, focus, and protection from age-related cognitive decline. As some of the most bioavailable sources of choline on the market, these nootropics both perform exceptionally well as an addition to your nootropic stack.
This is especially true for the racetam nootropic family as these drugs increase the demand for ACh in the brain. Adding either of these supplements to your nootropic stack can intensity the nootropic benefits and improve common side effects, such as headache and fatigue.
But what is the difference between these two supplements? When it comes to the increase of ACh, CDP choline and alpha GPC act on opposite ends of the ACh synthesis process. Even though they take part in the same process, the metabolism of each is quite different.
Citicoline is the precursor to phosphatidylcholine. When you consume citicoline, it’s broken down into phosphatidylcholine. Some of this compound is then used to create ACh. Alpha GPC is actually a byproduct of phosphatidylcholine that is then used to create ACh. What this means is that citicoline is closer to the original source of choline, and alpha GPC is much later in the process, closer to the form used to create ACh.
So which of these two nootropics is best? When evaluating the existing science and user reviews, there is no black-and-white answer to this question.
While there do exist two studies that would support the choice of alpha GPC over CDP choline, the evidence is very limited and not necessarily relevant to using these drugs orally as a nootropic. Both of these studies compared the effects of these drugs following intramuscular injection.
As both of these compounds have been shown to be effective and well-tolerated, the best way to decide which is best for you is to test them out yourself and see which best yields the benefits you’re looking for.
Keep in mind that alpha-GPC contains about twice the choline by weight when compared to citicoline. Thanks to this you may want to take twice the dosage of citicoline for a similar effect.
Alpha GPC vs Choline
Choline, generally in the form of bitartrate, is the basic form of choline for the body. While it’s the cheapest source of choline available and can help boost choline levels in the body, it does not appear to have the same impact on the concentration of choline in the brain. What this means is that this supplement can benefit overall health, particularly that of the liver, however it does not boast nootropic and other cognitive benefits.
Another common form of choline is choline citrate, and the benefits are similar to those for bitartrate.
Both alpha GPC and bitartrate are about 40% choline by weight, however the former provides a choline source that passes through the blood-brain barrier, thus extending its benefits to the cognitive realm. If you’re looking to boost your cognition and are looking for a choline source that’s also a nootropic, the extra cost of alpha GPC is well worth its benefits.
Alpha GPC vs Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a sulfur-containing fatty acid that easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. It acts as a powerful antioxidant known to help protect against depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. In the brain it reduces inflammation and works to flush heavy metals. It’s also known to improve mental energy by increasing glucose uptake in your brain cells.
Both alpha GPC and ALA increase ACh concentrations in the brain, however they do so in a very different manner. While the former provides a source of choline that can be used as a precursor to ACh, the latter both boosts the production of and decreases the breakdown of ACh in the brain. It has been shown to decrease acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme responsible for the breakdown of ACh, and activate choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), boosting the production of ACh. (8)
In order for ALA to increase the production of ACh, it needs sufficient choline in the brain to do so. This is where alpha GPC comes in: it provides a highly bioavailable form of choline, and then ALA helps to increase the synthesis of ACh from choline. If you want to boost the nootropic effects of both of the supplements, combining the two is a great way to do so.
Alpha GPC vs Phosphatidylserine
Phosphatidylserine is a supplement that has been linked to reducing cortisol levels and stress, helping boost focus for those with ADHD and ADD, improving symptoms of bipolar disorder, and protecting against age-related cognitive decline. It is both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. While not cholinergic, it too is involved in the ACh pathways.
One study found a supplement containing alpha GPC, phosphatidylserine, and caffeine increased both reaction time, attention, and feeling of alertness in healthy college students undergoing acute stress. (9)
This study suggests a benefits for nootropic stacking alpha GPC and phosphatidylserine.
Where to Buy Alpha GPC Choline Supplements
This supplement is available in capsule, powder, and liquid forms. When shopping for this supplement, it’s best to avoid bulk powder and other bulk supplements as it’s unstable and can quickly degrade with humidity.
It is available as a prescription drug in Europe for Alzheimer’s disease. In the US it’s a completely legal supplement, so you can find on Amazon, and other online vendors.
It’s best to avoid purchasing nootropics through Amazon as there is no way to confirm the quality of the supplements you purchase. Pure Nootropics and Nootropics Depot are two reliable sources for top-of-the line nootropics.
- 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. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12637119
- Acute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exercise https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-5-S1-P15
- Modulation of monoaminergic transporters by choline-containing phospholipids in rat brain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23244432
- A multicentre trial to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine versus cytosine diphosphocholine in patients with vascular dementia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1916007
- Choline alphoscerate in cognitive decline and in acute cerebrovascular disease: an analysis of published clinical data http://science.naturalnews.com/2001/9191355_Choline_alphoscerate_in_cognitive_decline_and_in_acute_cerebrovascular_disease.html
- Choline in anxiety and depression: the Hordaland Health Study http://science.naturalnews.com/2009/1438639_Choline_in_anxiety_and_depression_the_Hordaland_Health_Study.html
- Effect of L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine on amnesia caused by scopolamine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2071257
- Effects of alpha-lipoic acid on spatial learning and memory, oxidative stress, and central cholinergic system in a rat model of vascular dementia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25534501
- The effects of acute and prolonged CRAM supplementation on reaction time and subjective measures of focus and alertness in healthy college students. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3009695/
- The effects of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, caffeine or placebo on markers of mood, cognitive function, power, speed, and agility https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4595381/
- Glycerophosphocholine enhances growth hormone secretion and fat oxidation in young adults https://www.wellnessresources.com/studies/glycerophosphocholine-enhances-growth-hormone-secretion-and-fat-oxidation-i
- L-alpha-glycerophosphocholine contributes to meat’s enhancement of nonheme iron absorption https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18424594