How Supplementing With CDP Choline Improves Your Health


CDP choline is recommended to be taken at a dose of 250 – 500 mg, up to twice daily.

Benefits of CDP Choline

CDP choline (also known as citicoline) has a beneficial effect on concentration and memory by increasing mental energy and raising oxygen levels in the blood, as well as giving a slight increase in cerebral blood flow. CDP choline converts into neurotransmitters within the brain that in turn enhances the signalling processes within brain cells. These signal processes occur between synapses and are vital for forming memories.

Phospholipids present within neuronal membranes are synthesized using CDP choline, therefore it helps to provide structure and maintain integrity of brain cells. Oxidative stress within the brain is also reduced by CDP choline, meaning it has a neuroprotective effect. It is due to these effects on the brain that CDP choline is vital during foetal gestation, where it helps to develop memory and learning functions as well as aiding neural tube closure.

CDP choline is also used for transportation of lipids and to benefit the methyl cycle, ensuring energy availability and the removal of toxins. Research has also shown that lower levels of anxiety correlate with higher levels of CDP choline.

There is also growing evidence that CDP choline is useful as a treatment for a variety of diseases, including but not limited to: Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, glaucoma, brain injury, memory loss and Parkinson’s Disease.

How it works

CDP choline is naturally found throughout animal cells, and is usually converted from dietary choline. It is important for the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for muscle contraction and stimulation of short-term memory. Acetylcholine benefits muscle function, cognition and memory, all vital components of learning. Usually, acetylcholine is found in abundance, however studies have shown that levels decrease with age. Acetylcholine deficiency has been found to have a strong link to memory loss, as well as Alzheimer’s Disease.

CDP choline also increases levels of phosphatidylcholine, a phospholipid that makes up a large portion of membranes within the brain. This is because phosphatidylcholine is cylindrical in shape, therefore they automatically form lipid bilayers. Phosphatidylcholine can also be metabolized into fatty acids that induce membrane curvature allowing for vital processes.

Dopamine, another important neurotransmitter, is increased by plentiful amounts of CDP choline. Dopamine is a key molecule associated with increased focus, productivity and motivation, properties which increase learning potential. It also acts as a mood booster.

As choline is usually required for the body to make CDP choline, CDP choline supplementation skips this step. When CDP choline has a high bioavailability, so there is very little waste from taking it orally. The bioavailability of CDP choline is very similar when taken orally or intravenously, therefore oral dosing is ideal.

CDP choline is broken down into both citidine and plasma choline, the former of which converts into Uridine. CDP choline is therefore also a precursor to Uridine, which has a role in converting glucose to adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP facilitates the movement of energy throughout brain cells. Not only that, Uridine stimulates the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) which is utilized in neuron growth and protects synapses.

In short, there are many functions of CDP choline, however in terms of brain health, it increases the availability of neurotransmitters vital for protecting brain cells. The molecules that CDP choline helps to produce aid one another to improve memory function and concentration.

Side-effects of CDP choline supplementation are very rare, usually in cases of high daily dosage greater than 2000mg. Insomnia and rashes have been seen in very rare cases, however there is no life-threatening adverse effects of CDP choline

Stacking with ALCAR

Stacking is when a variety of supplements that complement one another are taken together to improve efficiency. Users of nootropics such as CDP choline often stack supplements together. One such combination is Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) and CDP Choline.

ALCAR alone increases acetylcholine levels as well as optimizing glucose uptake by passing through the blood-brain barrier. Glucose uptake and oxygen are both vital components of good brain health, as all of the energy used by the brain comes from glucose. ALCAR also stimulates NGF.

As previously mentioned, CDP choline also converts to Uridine, so when ALCAR is stacked with CDP choline, the result is a combined stimulation of NGF. There is also increased production of acetylcholine, again stimulated by both nootropics.

Is source important?

The short answer is yes, it is important to consider the source of CDP choline. Though it can be acquired through diet, it is only present in low amounts. The biggest source of CDP choline is in animal brains and liver, both of which are generally unpopular. They are also unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Dietary choline can be synthesized into CDP choline in the body. It is found in can be found in eggs, salmon, beef, poultry, rice, pasta, Brussel spouts, cauliflower and peanuts. Again this can present a problem to vegans who would need to rely only on the non-animal sources. The recommended intake for dietary choline is 550mg for men and 425mg for women. Using America as an example, it has been reported that this requirement means that a vast majority of the population is choline deficient.

Supplemental CDP-choline bypasses the need for the body to synthesize it from dietary choline and therefore its use is more efficient. When ingested, it is quickly absorbed into the body and broken into its constituents as previously mentioned. There is also an added convenience of having a dosing schedule so that control of CDP choline levels is constantly maintained.

Choline deficiency

The principle reason for choline deficiency is a lack of adequate dietary intake, due to lifestyle constraints or a lack of awareness on the subject. Folate deficiency has also been known to lead to deficient hepatic choline. Choline deficiency is known to cause muscle damage and hemorrhagic kidney necrosis, though these symptoms can be treated by an increase in choline. As choline and its constituents have such a vast array of functions it has been suggested that deficiency can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is itself can lead to a wide variety of symptoms including coronary and cardiovascular disease.

The overall inadequate intake of dietary choline caused American health associations to call for greater awareness of choline requirement. Supplementation is an easy way to combat choline deficiency as dosing can easily meet the recommended standard and is absorbed quickly into the body. Whilst it is possible to get enough choline in the diet, lifestyles and social constraints can limit the amount of dietary sources of choline. It was also harder for vegetarians and vegans to ingest enough choline, as many sources are derived from animal products.

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