Nootropics are all the rage lately. As more and more people turn towards supplements to boost their brain functions, they keep running into a specific nootropic; CDP choline.
Why is CDP choline one of the most popular cognitive-function-enhancing supplements? Here’s what you need to know.
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What is CDP Choline?
This powerful nootropic goes by various names. They include cytidine 5’-diphosphocholine, Cytidine diphosphate choline, or Cognizin when it is in its purest form. However, its most popular name is citicoline.
CDP choline serves as an intermediary during the synthesis if phosphatidylcholine from choline. Primarily, CDP choline is a choline donor.
As such, to understand what CDP choline does, it is important that one first understands the role of choline in our bodies.
Choline is a naturally-occurring water-soluble essential nutrient. It can be found across a wide variety of foods that are common in the human diet, such as:
- Whole eggs
- Kidney beans
- Sunflower seeds
- Beef liver
Being an essential element, it means that our bodies do not generate significant amounts of choline naturally. As such, we need to get it from our diets on a regular basis for us to function optimally.
The importance of choline’s role in your body cannot be overstated. For starters, choline is the base material from which cells are manufactured. Additionally, it is utilized in the creations of specific phospholipids that are used to make cell membranes. Choline’s most impactful function, however, is in the brain. It is a vital component in the construction of neurons, neuron dendrites, as well as other crucial brain structures,
Another critical role that choline plays is in the synthesis of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine serves as the brain’s main operational transmitter. As such, it is utilized across all vital brain processes, such as memory recall, muscle contractions, information processing, speech, and more.
Nonetheless, the levels of acetylcholine in the brain directly rely on the available amounts of choline in your system. As such, choline has a direct impact on the sharpness of your executive cognitive functions.
What’s more, the brain prefers to have high levels of acetylcholine at all times, regardless of the amount of choline you have in your body. As such, if you have low choline levels, the brain will draw from every choline store there is in your body, including your neurons. If that happens, your cognitive functions will become impaired as the brain’s primary goal at that moment is survival, not good memory or fast thinking.
This is why you must retain high levels of choline in the body at all times.
What Does CDP Choline Do?
As mentioned earlier, CDP choline’s primary job is to donate choline. It serves the brain with choline, where it is utilized to create acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine helps in the creation of new neurons and associated structures, while acetylcholine passes signals between those neurons.
As such, CDP choline provides the brain with arguably the raw materials to create arguably its most essential compounds – one for manufacturing cell structures, and the other for facilitating actual brain functions.
It is no surprise; therefore, most of the other brain supplements are built around CDP choline.
However, since CDP choline is essentially derived out of choline, why not take just consume choline instead? After all, choline is found in our diets. Why go through all the hassle of creating an actual supplement?
We discuss that in the next section.
Why CDP Choline is better than Regular Choline?
As mentioned earlier, our body produces tiny amounts of choline. This is why it is referred to as an essential element. We must get it from our diets in order to get the optimal amounts.
Nevertheless, just getting the optimal amounts of choline from a diet can be easier said than done. The most you can hope for are ‘adequate’ amounts if you embark on a choline-rich diet comprising of foods such as beef liver, eggs and sunflower seeds.
But since you are not looking for adequate, but optimal, you will have to do more.
In order to raise the levels of acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine in your brain so as to boost mental performance, you will need to increase the levels of choline in your body considerably. If you are to do that from your diet alone, you would need to consume massive amounts of food. That means a lot more calories as well as cholesterol and saturated fats.
Another problem with getting choline from your diet is that it is not fully absorbed in the stomach; thus, not all of it finds its way to the brain.
As such, this is why supplementary choline in the form of CDP choline is a lot more preferable. This is because CDP choline is far more efficient at raising the levels of choline in the brain than dietary choline. This stems from the fact that it is ready absorbed in the gut, meaning that most of it finds its way to the brain.
What’s more, CDP choline also provides the brain with cytidine. Cytidine is a powerful nootropic agent that serves as a precursor to uridine. Uridine, on the other hand, is responsible for regulating synaptic strength, neuronal connectivity, as well as brain cell maturation. Additionally, uridine is also actively involved in the synthesis of RNA. RNA is the molecule that is responsible for the coding, decoding, and expression of various genes.
Thus, to sum it all up, CDP choline is superior to dietary choline for the following reasons:
- CDP choline can be absorbed easily
- It passes the blood-brain barrier without much hassle
- It is quicker and more effective at raising choline levels than other sources of choline
- CDP choline contains cytidine which is also a powerful nootropic
- You will not have to consume massive amounts of food, thus ensuring that you keep your calorie levels in check.
Clinical Studies on CDP Choline
A number of clinical studies and trials have been performed to evaluate the effectiveness of CDP choline as a nootropic. We shall look at a few of them.
1. In this study, a group of 60 women aged between 40 and 60 years old were given either 250 mg of CDP choline, 500 mg, or a placebo for 28 consecutive days.
After those days were over, the researchers found out that both groups that took CDP choline made a lot fewer errors in cognitive-tasking tests than the group which was given a placebo.
Also, the group that was given 500 mg CDP choline was found to make even fewer errors than the group that was given 250 mg.
2. In this study, researchers discovered that supplementing with larger doses of CDP choline generated considerable improvements in memory function among older people. During the trial, researchers gave 47 women and 48 men 1000 mg of CDP choline every day for three months. The ages of the participants varied between 50 and 85.
The researchers then performed a crossover study using participants with deficient memories. They found out that the higher dosage of CDP choline was clearly linked to the subsequent improvements in logical as well as verbal memory. As such, CDP choline can be effective at treating age-related cognitive decline that is usually a precursor for dementia.
3. A study related to the one above was conducted about a year later yielded similar results. Here, the scientists were explicitly investigating how CDP choline affects older people with memory deficits. They came to the conclusion that administering CDP choline to such individuals resulted in massive improvements in memory recall tasks.
4. In this study, researchers found out that taking CDP choline enhances frontal lobe bioenergetics. What that means is that CDP choline is effective at raising energy levels in parts of the brain that are associated with ‘higher-order’ cognitive functions, such as reasoning, abstract thought, and speech.
According to the researchers, supplementing with CDP choline helps mitigate the cognitive declines that are often associated with ageing by increasing the number of essential phospholipids that are necessary for the synthesis and maintenance of cell membranes.
Who Should Use CDP Choline?
CDP choline is arguably the best-rounded nootropic on the market as it has direct physical effects on the brain. This allows it to improve multiple facets of cognitive performance.
For example, it raises the levels of acetylcholine in the body, which means better focus, learning, verbal fluency, and muscle contractions. Additionally, your neurons become more robust in addition to experiencing enhanced dendrite connectivity.
Also, it elevates the levels of uridine in the body, thus promoting the synthesis of RNA.
It is no wonder that CDP choline is widely regarded as the go-to brain supplement. As such, if your goal is better brain optimization and performance, you should definitely consider including CDP choline in your supplement stack.
How to Use CDP Choline
Experts recommend that you start with about 150 mg per day, then gradually work your way up to 250 mg if you feel it’s necessary. That amount should be enough for overall enhanced brain function in the long term.
Are you looking to boost your performance in cognitive-demanding tasks? Give CDP choline a try then let us know what you think.
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I’m Daniel. Just an average guy trying to share his love for nootropics, biohacking, and life optimization. Follow me on my journey to learning how I use nootropics on a daily basis.