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Alpha GPC Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Alpha GPC Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

September 22, 2016
Updated May 15, 2020

What Is Alpha GPC?

Alpha GPC or Alpha-glycerophosphocholine (aGPC), as the name implies, is a choline-containing phospholipid isolated from soy. A wealth of research on this compound supports a role for enhancing cognitive function, increasing strength and stimulating the release of growth hormone.

Alpha GPC contains a lipid tail that permits the uptake and incorporation into neuronal cell membranes. The membrane-bound choline molecule supplies the necessary and rate limiting compound for acetylcholine neurotransmitter synthesis.

Though found both within the central and peripheral nervous system, cholinergic neurotransmission is the cornerstone for memory formation that takes place in a specialized brain region known as the hippocampus.

The Benefits Of Regular Alpha GPC Intake

Studies in animal models and humans taking place since the 1990’s have shown administration of aGPC improves memory performance [1]. One of the early human studies on aGPC attempted to replicate trials performed previously in animals.

The study gave subjects ten days of aGPC or placebo before inducing temporary amnesia with a potent drug called scopolamine [2]. AGPC supplementation reduced the scopolamine-induced memory impairments as measured by subjects performed on memory and attention tasks.

Since this study, aGPC has become a focus of research age-related memory decline as well as other causes of memory dysfunction [3]. An interesting study that added aGPC to commonly prescribed memory drug most similar in effect to huperzine A (an Alpha BRAIN ingredient) showed the additional benefit wasn’t with the drug alone [4].

Recent studies on aGPC have shown a potential benefit to athletic performance. A Japanese study investigated the effects of a single dose of aGCP on hormone release in healthy young males. Surprisingly a single dose of aGCP resulted in a substantial change in growth hormone release within one hour.

At 60 minutes, growth hormone levels acute increased by 290% from the baseline hormone level and returned to baseline by the second hour [5]. Also observed, was the growth hormone’s actions of increasing fatty acid oxidation, as indicated by rises in free fatty acids and ketone bodies. The authors proposed that the increase in circulating choline may briefly block the negative feedback mechanism governing GH release.

Short supplementation periods of 6 days have been shown to improve strength in college-aged athletes directly. A study conducted at the University of Louisianna used a crossover design that measured the force generated in deadlift and bench press style movements.

The study found a significant increase of 3% improvement in lower body strength with aGPC supplementation [6]. The study cited the previous research of cholinergic transmission at neural-muscular as a potential mechanism, however, did not have direct evidence for the mechanism leading to improved strength.

The cumulative evidence from animal model and human studies support the role of aGPC as a well tolerated cognitive enhancing compound with ergogenic properties [7]. The soy lecithin isolate contains a phospholipid that permits incorporation into neuronal cell membranes and utilization as a cholinergic neurotransmitter precursor.

Associated with the increase in circulating choline levels was a transient elevation in growth hormone. Even a short period of supplementation with aGPC proved to be beneficial to muscle strength

Recommended Usage & Natural Sources Of Alpha GPC

Alpha GPC is approximately 40% choline by weight, and as such 1,000 mg alpha-GPC confers about 400 mg of dietary choline. A standard dosage of alpha-GPC is 300-600 mg, according to the most common label doses.

This dose is following the study using alpha-GPC to enhance power output (600 mg) and the two studies noting an increase in growth hormone secretion and is likely a good dose to take for athletes.

For the usage of alpha-GPC in attenuating symptoms of cognitive decline, almost all studies use a dosage of 1,200 mg daily, divided into three doses of 400 mg. It is unsure how lower doses would benefit cognition, but the dose which is consistently associated with benefit .appears to be 1,200 mg.

Rat studies suggest that the effects of Alpha-GPC oral ingestion peak at 300-600 mg/kg, which is an estimated human dose of 48-96 mg/kg (and for a 150lb human, 3,272-6,545 mg daily).

For nootropic stack use, we recommend a dose of 300-600 mg to start out and then to increase from there if you decide you would benefit from more.

When taken at recommended dosages Alpha GPC is well tolerated. For most adults the range of acceptable dosage is relatively broad; a cumulative daily dosage of 300-1200 mg, when taken in one or two doses, is safe and efficient.

As is the case with all supplements, it is wise to start with the lowest possible effective dose and build gradually as needed.

Side Effects of Alpha GPC

Although, Alpha GPC is both safe and well tolerated in healthy adults,  side effects have been reported.

Users have occasionally experienced headaches, fatigue, nervousness, nausea, diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress; also, this supplement can result in dizziness and low blood pressure in some individuals.

If you know, you are prone to hypotension you should consult a medical professional before taking Alpha GPC.

Adverse side effects may occur more commonly among users taking high dosages.

Little research has been done on Alpha GPC’s effects on pregnant women, so those who are pregnant or nursing are advised to refrain from use.

Conclusion & Summary on GPC

Alpha GPC is a safe, well-tolerated, and highly effective source of choline. It has been the subject of decades of research and is recognized worldwide as a powerful memory enhancer, prescribed by physicians throughout Europe for a variety of memory disorders.

In addition to being a potent nootropic in its right, Alpha GPC is also a perfect addition to many other supplements, particularly those like the racetams which depend on a sufficiency of choline in order to achieve optimal results.

It also stimulates the production of HGH, which can improve strength, and shorten recovery time following exertion, and encourage the building of lean muscle mass, making it an invaluable supplement for athletes or anyone with an active lifestyle.

For anyone who is interested in improving their memory, physical strength and vitality, or achieving the best results possible with nootropic supplements, Alpha GPC is an excellent choice.

References

1. Klein J, Gonzalez R, Köppen A, Löffelholz K. Free choline and choline metabolites in rat brain and body fluids: sensitive determination and implications for choline supply to the brain. Neurochem Int. 1993;22(3):293-300.

2. Canal N, Franceschi M, Alberoni M, Castiglioni C, De moliner P, Longoni A. Effect of L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine on amnesia caused by scopolamine. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol. 1991;29(3):103-7.

3. Parnetti L, Amenta F, Gallai V. Choline alphoscerate in cognitive decline and in acute cerebrovascular disease: an analysis of published clinical data. Mech Ageing Dev. 2001;122(16):2041-55.

4. Amenta F, Carotenuto A, Fasanaro AM, Rea R, Traini E. The ASCOMALVA trial: association between the cholinesterase inhibitor donepezil and the cholinergic precursor choline alphoscerate in Alzheimer’s disease with cerebrovascular injury: interim results. J Neurol Sci. 2012;322(1-2):96-101.

5. Kawamura T, Okubo T, Sato K, et al. Glycerophosphocholine enhances growth hormone secretion and fat oxidation in young adults. Nutrition. 2012;28(11-12):1122-6.

6. Kawamura T, Okubo T, Sato K, et al. Glycerophosphocholine enhances growth hormone secretion and fat oxidation in young adults. Nutrition. 2012;28(11-12):1122-6.

7. Traini E, Bramanti V, Amenta F. Choline alphoscerate (alpha-glyceryl-phosphoryl-choline) an old choline- containing phospholipid with a still interesting profile as cognition enhancing agent. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2013;10(10):1070-9.

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Onnit Research Team
The Onnit Research Team is comprised of medical professionals, researchers, and scientists interested in providing data-driven, actionable information.

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