Alpha-GPC – short for L-Alpha GlycerylPhosphorylCholine, aka choline alfoscerate – is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is considered to be among the best sources of choline. The latter is a vitamin-like nutrient that is crucial to the functioning of the brain and the nervous system.
The body needs choline to produce acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in several brain functions including memory, learning, attention and motivation.
The human body produces choline in the liver and can obtain it from different dietary sources such as eggs, wheat germ, salmon, soybeans, beef liver, chickpeas, and others. Most healthy people do not need to take choline supplements, but some believe it improves memory and cognitive functions.
Alpha-GPC has high bioavailability compared to other forms of choline supplements, and it quickly crosses the blood-brain barrier leading to increased levels of the acetylcholine neurotransmitter.
Alpha-GPC is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other memory disorders. In some countries, it is a prescription medication, however, in the US and most other countries it is considered a dietary supplement and can be safely bought over the counter. The FDA classifies alpha-GPC as a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) substance.
There aren’t as many scientific studies and clinical trials on the efficacy of alpha-GPC as other forms of choline. However, basically all acetylcholine precursors, including alpha-GPC, have the same main effect of increasing the levels of acetylcholine in the brain. Although people respond differently to different choline supplements.
In one study, patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease took a total of 1,200mg/day (3 x 400mg doses) of alpha-GPC (choline alfoscerate) for six months. The study noted significant cognitive improvement in patients who took alpha-GPC compared to those who took a placebo.
Another study (although not related to cognitive effects) involving young adults concluded that a single dose of 1,000mg alpha-GPC increased hormone growth secretion and fat oxidation (burning) in the liver.
On the negative side, there are studies – like this one – that found no significant effect of choline supplementation on physical or cognitive performance in healthy people.
Do You Really Need to Take Alpha-GPC?
Well, as a nootropic, there is no conclusive evidence that alpha-GPC or any other source of choline provides remarkable improvement in cognitive functions.
There is reasonable anecdotal evidence that alpha-GPC, when taken with other nootropics, may help support cognitive/mental performance, but efficacy varies for each individual.
Besides neurology, alpha-GPC (choline) can improve liver functions and health.
If you do not consume sufficient choline in your daily diet it may be worthwhile to take a supplement, otherwise, it may not help much.
The recommended daily intake of choline for adults is 550mg for men and 425mg for women. To learn more about choline, its benefits, and food sources check out the following extensive article by Oregon State University.
Keep in mind that alpha-GPC provides 40% choline by weight, i.e. each 100mg of alpha-GPC provides 40mg choline.
Alpha-GPC is one of the best and most efficient sources of choline. It is safe for use by men and women and does not have any significant side effects.
Many consumers use alpha-GPC as a nootropic (cognitive enhancer) supplement, usually as part of a daily stack. While its benefits for healthy individuals are debatable, it generally seems to have a positive effect on mental and cognitive health.
Where to Buy Alpha-GPC?
You can easily find alpha-GPC capsules and powder at most local and online stores that sell dietary supplements. Many consumers buy it from nootropics vendors together with other nootropics (it stacks well with l-theanine, noopept and/or adrafinil).
One of the good places that sells quality alpha-GPC is Double Wood Supplements. They also have several other nootropic supplements.