Knowledgeable users of nootropics know that it’s not a matter of if they should use choline, but rather which choline source they should use. While choline is considered one of the top brain supplements, we don’t recommend going into your purchase without your facts lined up. The quality and strength of the most popular choline supplements vary dramatically—not all are created equal. Because of this, it’s important to educate yourself on the differences and the benefits of each choline source.
No, there is no such thing as the limitless pill, but nootropics and brain supplements are still highly effective. If you’ve spent any time researching nootropics, you’ve most likely heard the term “cholinergic” tossed around. Cholinergic compounds are substrates for acetylcholine, which is the brain’s most prominent memory and learning neurotransmitter.
Simply put, most choline sources (cholinergic substances) will positively influence acetylcholine levels in the brain once ingested. The increase in acetylcholine can offset potential headaches received from using racetams such as Piracetam or Aniracetam. Racetams and other nootropics for creativity, memory, and focus go hand in hand with high-quality sources of choline. You rarely see one taken without the other.
Choline is frequently associated with the B vitamin complex and is a crucial nutrient for the body and brain at every age. Supplements for acetylcholine are considered safe, highly beneficial, and have little to no adverse side effects. Neurotransmitter acetylcholine is the mediator for learning and muscle contraction, and is a key player in many of the best smart pills on the market. It is found all throughout the body and serves two primary functions:
For neuromuscular junction, motor neurons release acetylcholine for more efficient muscle activation. Choline supplementation is popular among body builders and athletes for this reason. Improvements in muscle-activating functionality translate to better lifts at the gym and stronger performances on the field. Increased acetylcholine production means enhancements in both physical and mental endurance, as well as increased power output.
As a neuromodulator inside the brain, acetylcholine alters the processing of information, rather than point to point data transmission. Choline is known as the best nootropic for memory and learning, and for a good reason. Improved processing of external stimuli leads to better memory formation and recall, as well as cleaner focus and concentration. Neuroprotection and prevention of cognitive decline are also noted benefits with the regular use of choline supplements.
Benefits of Choline Supplementation
Choline supplementation is vital if you want your nootropic stack to be useful, or to amplify its current effects. There are plenty of food sources available that can boost acetylcholine production. However, for noticeable improvements in cognitive function or physical endurance, you’ll need an additional choline source. Particularly, one that can easily cross the blood-brain barrier to interact with neurochemicals in a beneficial manner.
The benefits of a reliable choline source are numerous. Choline is a key component for enhancing cognitive function and even curing ADHD naturally. Whether you’re an athlete, a student, or an entrepreneur, the potential gains of supplementing choline include:
Overall improvements in cognitive function and mental clarity
Enhancements in memory, mental energy, focus, and concentration
Significantly improves mood without interfering with sleep or generating restlessness
Increased physical power output
Fatigue reduction with improved mental and physical endurance
Increased growth hormone production and fat oxidation in healthy young adults
Neuroprotection and prevention of cognitive decline
Significant cognition improvements in those who have Alzheimer's, dementia or other neurodegenerative diseases
Types of Acetylcholine Supplements
As you can see, the benefits of choline are abundant. Today’s article explores the most popular choline sources used to improve cognitive function and physical performance. We will cover the following acetylcholine supplements in detail: Choline Bitartrate / Lecithin, CDP-Choline (Citicoline), and Alpha GPC (Alpha-Glycerophosphocholine / Choline Alfoscerate).
Although not mentioned in this article, Huperzine A benefits the brain by slowing the breakdown of acetylcholine. Since it is technically an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, we’ve purposely excluded it from our list. By inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, Huperzine A allows more choline to build-up in the brain. This effect makes Huperzine A an excellent nootropic to take alongside one of the choline sources below.
1. Choline Bitartrate / Lecithin
Choline bitartrate supplements are the most readily available choline sources on the market. You’ll find them in drug stores, supermarkets, retailers, and any store that stocks general health products. Unfortunately, choline bitartrate is also the cheapest, simplest, and least effective form of choline with extremely limited nootropic benefit.
Choline bitartrate, lecithin, and water soluble choline chloride all struggle to cross the blood-brain barrier effectively. The inability to efficiently cross the blood-brain barrier means they have very low bioavailability. Low bioavailability means these choline sources are unable to communicate with neurochemicals in the brain impactfully.
Although choline bitartrate is 41% choline by weight (1,000mg dose confers 410mg of choline), the choline delivered is not sufficient for cognitive enhancement. If you’re looking for nootropics for focus and concentration, this is one choline supplement to skip. Other choline sources such as Alpha GPC have been shown to provide greater neural choline concentrations.
2. CDP-Choline (Citicoline)
CDP-choline supplements are much more common in the nootropic community. CDP-choline (also known as cytidine diphosphate choline or citicoline) is both a uridine and choline prodrug. The cytidine portion being the precursor to uridine, and the choline portion being the precursor to acetylcholine. Uridine plays a vital role in neural membrane synthesis and improving memory and cognition. Citicoline is 18.5% choline by weight (1,000mg dose confers 185mg of choline), which is lower than choline bitartrate. However, the choline delivered is more useful for cognitive enhancement. CDP-choline metabolizes quickly and reliably. The higher bioavailability allows your brain to increase production of neurotransmitter acetylcholine within an hour of ingestion.
3. Alpha GPC (Alpha-Glycerophosphocholine / Choline Alfoscerate)
Until recently, Alpha GPC has been sitting on top of the throne as the best choline supplement available. We discuss this cognitive booster thoroughly in our Alpha GPC review. Structurally, it is composed of phosphate, glycerol, and choline. Once ingested, it quickly metabolizes into glycerophosphate and choline upon absorption. The Alpha GPC supplement is 40% choline by weight (1,000mg dose confers 400mg of choline). Like CDP-choline, Alpha GPC delivers a more useful form of choline to the brain that is more bioavailable. The high bioavailability allows for a quick and positive impact on acetylcholine production. Due to its higher concentration of choline, Alpha GPC has historically been the favorite choline source among nootropic users.
What Is the Best Choline Source?
Choline supplements are a fundamental component of every nootropic stack. Whether you’re curing brain fog and mental fatigue or boosting athletic performance, choline has the versatility you need. With that said, the highest quality and best choline source currently available is Alpha GPC.
Choline by Weight Summary
CDP-Choline (Citicoline) 18.5%
*Choline Bitartrate / Lecithin 41%
*Choline Bitartrate / Lecithin is known to have poor bioavailability and is ineffective for boosting cognitive function.
What is your favorite acetylcholine supplement? Let us know about your experience with choline supplementation in the comments below!
The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.
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