Alpha-GPC is a nootropic supplement quickly growing in popularity among athletes and the elderly. Benefits include a variety of mental and physical boosts. However, as with many supplements, not all claims made are backed up by clinical research.
Here’s a closer look at what Alpha-GPC does, what it doesn’t, and everything else you need to know:
Alpha-GPC is a phospholipid that provides essential nourishment for the nervous system and brain. Phospholipids line up to form a bilayered cell membrane, which is crucial for cell health and function. They allow cell membranes to expand, shrink, and change shape as necessary.
Alpha-GPC is the shortened term for the scientific labels “L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine” and “choline alphoscerate.” It provides two key nutrients:
Similar to Vitamin B, Choline is a key nutrient related to a variety of chemical reactions, especially those related to nerve system function. Choline also helps build a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which plays a crucial role in maintaining proper cognitive function related to memory, learning, and more.
Myelin is an insulating layer made up of proteins and fatty substances. It creates an insulating layer around nerves. The layer allows electrical impulses to move across nerve cells quickly and easily. Without a proper layer of myelin, various nerve-related issues can develop, such as multiple sclerosis.
Where is Alpha-GCP Found?
You won’t find many foods that contain more than a trace amount of Alpha-GCP. Instead, your body synthesizes Alpha-GCP from choline. To increase the amount of Alpha-GCP, you’ll need to increase your choline levels.
Fortunately, choline is found in a variety of common foods:
Most types of beef are rich in choline. Just three ounces of beef liver contains a whopping 355 mg of the substance. Trimmer cuts of beef average about 65 to 70 mg of choline per serving. Of course, eating a meat-heavy diet does pose potential health risks. If you’re a vegetarian, other options are available.
Eggs and Dairy
Eggs are packed with choline. One large egg contains 126 mg of phosphatidylcholine (the scientific name for choline found in food). Aside from eggs, most dairy products such as cheese, milk, and butter are also rich in choline. For example, a cup of skim milk contains 38 mg of choline.
Fish is another excellent source. Atlantic cod has the most choline per service, with 71 mg per every three ounces. Shrimp and canned salmon are also good choices with 60 mg of choline per three ounces.
Most nuts contain substantial amounts of choline. Almonds, walnuts, and cashews typically average the highest amounts. Also, peanut butter is another excellent option. Two tablespoons of peanut butter have 20 mg of choline.
Non-Food Sources of Alpha-GPC
Remember, the body turns choline in Alpha-GPC. However, foods high in choline aren’t the only way to increase your Alpha-GPC levels. The substance is also available in two other ways.
First, Alpha-GPC is sold as a prescription drug to help treat Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, it’s only available in a few European countries, not in the U.S.
However, in the U.S. markets, Alpha-GPC is sold as a dietary supplement. It’s sold as a powder or included in a variety of products, including Noocaf's Focus Blend, a medium-ground coffee which promotes increased concentration and feelings of calmness.
Most supplements and medications with Alpha-GPC source it from either eggs or soy.
What Does Alpha-GPC Do?
Alpha-GPC has many effective benefits. However, many of the proven benefits become mixed with marketing hype, and separating fact from fiction gets confusing. Here’s a closer look:
Protection Against Cognitive Decline
The risk of cognitive decline and memory loss increases with age. Although causes vary, poor blood flow and brain damage are common reasons. Several studies strongly indicate Alpha-GPC helps prevent all types of cognitive decline, including memory loss, seizure-related impairment, and similar issues.
Also, Alpha-GPC has shown significant promise in treating Alzheimer’s Disease. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study found Alpha-GPC helped reduce all Alzheimer’s symptoms in patients. Additionally, a second study found Alpha-GPC significantly boosted the effects of donepezil, a standard Alzheimer’s treatment.
Finally, studies show Alpha-GPC helps improve memory and overall cognitive functions. However, these studies only involved in people (typically seniors) with some degree of pre-existing cognitive impairment. No studies definitively prove Alpha-GPC boosts cognitive abilities in younger people, although many supplement users report strong anecdotal evidence otherwise.
Improved Muscle Growth and Athletic Performance
Studies suggest Alpha-GPC can enhance overall athletic prowess by increasing growth hormone and speeding-up muscle development. While scientific studies do back up these claims somewhat, the evidence is limited.
For example, a study does show Alpha-GPC can improve speed, power, and pull force. However, the study only had 61 participants, which does limit its validity.
A more promising study concerns the use of Alpha-GCP as a pre-workout supplement. It increased growth hormone production by 44%. Additionally, it also boosted growth hormone production. However, it’s important to note these increases were only for the short term.
Alpha-GPC Claims Not Supported by Scientific Study
Unfortunately, not everything you’ll read about Alpha-GPC is true. Here’s a look at few claims which aren’t completely supported by scientific studies:
A study does show some promising effects of Alpha-GPC on the treatment of Ocular Ischemic Syndrome, a condition resulting in vision loss and eye pain.
Introducing Alpha-GPC to treatment helped sharpen vision, improve ocular blood flow, and repair retina damage.
Unfortunately, only one study showed these benefits. If you have Ocular Ischemic Syndrome, consult with your doctor about whether or not you should increase your intake of Alpha-GPC. However, no scientific evidence suggests Alpha-GPC boosts overall eye health.
Recovery from Stroke
Three clinical trials involving 2,500 stroke survivors do show promise that Alpha-GPC can help improve cognitive function following a stroke. Although cognition improved significantly (up to 70% in some people), there’s a relevant caveat to the information. The three studies had no control groups, which does affect their validity.
How Much Alpha-GPC Should I Take?
When taking Alpha-GPC to treat any medical condition, consult with your doctor for dosage recommendations.
Dosage typically ranges from 250 to 1,200 mg per day. Ranges vary based on the type of condition treated:
- 400 mg, three times a day for cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer’s and related issues
- 250 mg, once a day for one week, followed by 600 mg daily for six days, for improved athletic performance
- 1,000 mg daily for one month for stroke recovery
As you can see, many of these dosages are rather high, which is why many people prefer supplements over the Alpha-GPC (or choline) found in food. Otherwise, you might end up eating eggs and meat all day long! Check the specific supplement for the exact Alpha-GPC levels. Three hundred mg is fairly standard.
Many people prefer the ease of liquid supplements such as coffee. With a liquid, you don’t have to worry about eating supplemental meals throughout the day. Instead, you can increase your Alpha-GPC levels quickly by consuming a beverage, such as coffee, which you already drink.
Don’t let the scientific terms overwhelm you. The basics are fairly easy to understand: Alpha-GPC helps protect cognitive function, especially among older people with some degree of brain impairment. It also helps increase muscle growth and function. While other uses still require further research, there is evidence to suggest Alpha-GPC also helps increase mental clarity and speed. Overall, it’s an effective nootropic supplement used safely by both young adults and seniors.