Alpha-GPC, also known as alpha-glycerophosphocholine or choline alfoscerate, is a choline compound that occurs naturally in the human brain. Supplementation with Alpha-GPC may provide both nootropic and geroprotective effects, supporting healthy cognitive function as the brain ages, according to these clinical studies on humans:
- Efficacy and tolerability of choline alphoscerate (cereton) in patients with Parkinson's disease with cognitive disorders. In 2009, this study found that "marked and moderate improvement of cognitive functions was found in patients of the [Alpha-GPC] group compared to the control one ... Deterioration of cognitive functions was seen less often in the [Alpha-GPC] group than in the control group".
- 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. In 2003, this study found “clinical usefulness and tolerability of [Alpha-GPC] in the treatment of the cognitive symptoms of dementia disorders of the Alzheimer type”.
- Alpha-Glycerophosphocholine in the mental recovery of cerebral ischemic attacks. An Italian multicenter clinical trial. In 1994, this study found that “the trial confirms the therapeutic role of alpha-GPC on the cognitive recovery of patients with acute stroke or TIA, and the low percentage of adverse events confirms its excellent tolerability”.
- Multicentre study of l-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine vs ST200 among patients with probable senile dementia of Alzheimer's type. In 1993, this study found “significant improvements in most neuropsychological parameters in the alpha GPC recipients”.
- A neurotropic approach to the treatment of multi-infarct dementia using L-α-glycerylphosphorylcholine. In 1992, this study found that “patients receiving L-α-GPC showed a significant improvement of cognitive functions, behavior, and personality at the end of the treatment”.
- Nootropic therapy of cerebral aging. In 1991, this study found that Alpha-GPC was “well tolerated and can be expected to be particularly effective in long-term patient management”.
- A multicentre trial to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine versus cytosine diphosphocholine in patients with vascular dementia. In 1991, this study found that Alpha-GPC “produced a definite symptomatic improvement and showed a very good tolerability”.
These clinical study reviews confirm that supplementation of Alpha-GPC may support healthy brain aging:
- Effectiveness of nootropic drugs with cholinergic activity in treatment of cognitive deficit: a review. In 2012, this review observed that Alpha-GPC “enhances cognitive functioning and is, among several precursors, active in increasing acetylcholine levels in the brain. Therefore, it may represent a therapeutic option to improve the beneficial effects of cholinergic therapy in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and concomitant cerebrovascular damage.”
- Choline alphoscerate in cognitive decline and in acute cerebrovascular disease: an analysis of published clinical data. In 2001, this review found "clear internal consistency of clinical data gathered by different experimental situations on [Alpha-GPC] effect, especially with regard to the cognitive symptoms (memory, attention) characterising the clinical picture of adult-onset dementia disorders".
Among alternatives, Alpha-GPC may be the most bioavailable source of choline for the brain. Common alternatives include Phosphatidylcholine and CDP. According to these studies, Phosphatidylcholine may be less effective at reaching the brain, and CDP may be less efficient per dose:
- Cholinergic precursors in the treatment of cognitive impairment of vascular origin: ineffective approaches or need for re-evaluation? In 2007, this study found that "phosphatidylcholine (lecithin) did not show any clear clinical benefit on symptoms of dementia disorders".
- A multicentre trial to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine versus cytosine diphosphocholine in patients with vascular dementia. In 1991, this study found that "alpha-GPC possessed a statistical higher efficacy and an overall more satisfactory activity assessed by both patients and investigators compared with CDP".
One way to improve the nootropic effect of Alpha-GPC may be to combine it with Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR). ALCAR and choline supplementation in combination may be more bioavailable, according to these studies:
- Decreasing oxidative stress with choline and carnitine in women. In 2005, this study found that “Choline and carnitine supplementation lowers lipid peroxidation, and promotes conservation of retinol and alpha-tocopherol in free-living women”.
- Carnitine and Choline Supplementation with Exercise Alter Carnitine Profiles, Biochemical Markers of Fat Metabolism and Serum Leptin Concentration in Healthy Women. In 2003, this study found that "choline-induced decrease in serum and urinary carnitine is buffered by carnitine preloading".
- Choline supplementation reduces urinary carnitine excretion in humans. In 1996, this study found that “supplementary choline maintained serum carnitine concentrations by conserving urinary carnitine”.
- Choline supplementation alters carnitine homeostasis in humans and guinea pigs. In 1995, this study found that “choline supplementation results in decreased urinary excretion of carnitine in young adult women”.
When selecting an Alpha-GPC supplement, look for one that facilitates dosages that correspond to clinical studies on humans. This may provide the greatest potential for nootropic and geroprotective effect. In the studies cited above, Alpha-GPC dosages range from 400 mg to 1200 mg, divided into multiple daily doses.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to ascertain the amount of Alpha-GPC in most supplements. Vendors of Alpha-GPC generally use a 50% Alpha-GPC material to facilitate encapsulation. In the Supplement Facts section of their product labels, some products list the amount of 50% Alpha-GPC material rather than the actual amount of Alpha-GPC. Consequently, if you're not careful, you may get only half as much Alpha-GPC as you intended to buy.
Based in part on the studies cited above, Thrivous developed Alpha Neuroprotector. Each serving provides a clinical dose of Alpha GPC and Acetyl L Carnitine. Alpha is available to purchase online in the Thrivous store.