What is Alpha GPC?
It’s almost perfect. A supplement that can increase focus, sharpen memory, and even enhances athletic ability. Recent studies have found that Alpha GPC might really be the most comprehensive performance enhancer currently available.
Alpha GPC (alpha glycerylphosphoryl choline), is a molecule that functions as a ready source of choline; an essential nutrient. Alpha GPC is a natural compound found in the healthy brain (1).
It’s used in supplements for both improved cognitive function and increased muscle strength.
Alpha GPC, also called choline alfoscerate, delivers choline to the brain and helps your body produce the critical neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is what produces its many benefits.
Although acetylcholine is strongly involved in memory and learning, it’s also one of the most important neurotransmitters for powerful muscle contractions.
Do You Have Enough? Low Levels Reduce Mental and Physical Ability
Levels of acetylcholine can naturally decline with age (2). To ensure you have enough of this brain chemical to function at your best, you need to keep levels up.
People with low acetylcholine levels can experience muscle weakness and significant cognitive problems (2).
Alpha GPC easily crosses the blood-brain-barrier, unlike other popular choline supplements on the market (3). This is why it’s attracted the attention of athletes, students, and people in professions where peak mental performance is essential.
It’s so effective that the medical community is using it for the treatment of memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease (4).
Why Alpha GPC Packs the Biggest Punch
Choline in its basic form is usually found as bitartrate. This is the most common choline supplement, and while it can benefit the body it won’t reliably increase choline in the brain. This makes it ineffective for cognitive enhancement (3). Something also true for another simple choline called choline citrate (3).
However, Alpha GPC is 40 percent choline by weight (5), and is actually a prodrug that’s metabolized by the body to make both choline and glycerophosphate, which helps maintain cell health (5). So far, Alpha GPC is the most efficient form of choline supplementation because unlike other choline supplements, it’s:
- High in choline
- Very readily absorbed
- Able to easily cross the blood-brain barrier
Memory and Focus Enhancer
Alpha GPC improves memory, learning and thinking ability by increasing acetylcholine levels in the brain.
In a placebo-controlled trial published in Clinical Therapeutics the effectiveness and tolerability of Alpha GPC was assessed in the treatment of cognitive impairment due to mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease (6).
In the Alpha GPC group, cognition, behavior, and mental state consistently improved after three and six months of treatment. The placebo group remained unchanged or got worse.
But what about healthy people who take Alpha GPC?
A cohort study involving healthy participants found that higher choline intake was linked with much better mental performance. The cognitive abilities assessed included verbal memory, visual memory, verbal learning, and executive function. (7)
A 2015 study compared Alpha GPC to caffeine with participants in their twenties who all took the same math test to test the effects each substance had on mental performance.
Test were accurately completed almost 20 percent faster in subjects who received 400 milligrams of Alpha GPC compared to those who took 200 milligrams of caffeine. The group using caffeine also reported significantly more nervousness compared to the Alpha GPC group. (8)
Improves Physical Performance
Short supplementation periods of six days have directly improved muscle strength in college-aged athletes.
A study conducted at the University of Louisiana used an isometric strength test to measure the force generated in deadlift and bench press style movements (9).
The study found a significant increase in lower body strength with Alpha GPC supplementation. The researchers concluded that it was effective at increasing lower body force production after just six days of use. They added that sport performance coaches should consider adding it to the diet of speed and power athletes to enhance performance (9).
Increased Growth Hormone and Fat Burning
An increase in circulating choline levels also increases growth hormone levels.
A Japanese study examined the effect of a single dose of Alpha GCP on growth hormone secretion in healthy young males (10).
They found that one dose caused a substantial increase in growth hormone secretion after only one hour. Growth hormone levels rose by almost 300 percent from baseline hormone levels.
Researchers also detected a rise in free fatty acids and ketone bodies that indicate accelerated fat burning metabolism (10). They believe it’s the increase in circulating choline that blocks the negative feedback mechanism that governs normal GH release.
- Chang Q, Gold PE. Age-related changes in memory and in acetylcholine functions in the hippocampus in the Ts65Dn mouse, a model of Down syndrome. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2007;89(2):167-77 – Link
- Lippelt DP, van der Kint S, van Herk K, Naber M. No Acute Effects of Choline Bitartrate Food Supplements on Memory in Healthy, Young, Human Adults. PLoS One. 2016;11(6):e0157714. Published 2016 Jun 24. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157714 – Link
- Marcus L, Soileau J, Judge LW, Bellar D. Evaluation of the effects of two doses of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on physical and psychomotor performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14:39. Published 2017 Oct 5. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0196-5 – Link
- De Jesus Moreno Moreno M. 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. Clin Ther. 2003 Jan;25(1):178-93 – Link
- Poly C, Massaro JM, Seshadri S, et al. The relation of dietary choline to cognitive performance and white-matter hyperintensity in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;94(6):1584-91 – Link
- Parker AG, Byars A, Purpura M, Jäger R. The effects of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, caffeine or placebo on markers of mood, cognitive function, power, speed, and agility. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12(Suppl 1):P41. Published 2015 Sep 21. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-12-S1-P41 – Link
- Bellar D, LeBlanc NR, Campbell B. The effect of 6 days of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on isometric strength. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:42. Published 2015 Nov 17. doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0103-x – Link
- Takashi Kawamura M.S., et al. Glycerophosphocholine enhances growth hormone secretion and fat oxidation in young adults. Nutrition, Volume 28, Issues 11–12, November–December 2012, Pages 1122-1126 – Link