Other names: Citicoline, Choline
Used for: Improved memory, attention span, brain energy; treatment of ADHD
Known side effects: diarrhea, insomnia, headache, indigestion
Dosing: 250 mg to 2000 mg per day
CDP Choline or Citicoline is a nootropic supplement that boosts memory, mental energy, focus, and learning by increasing acetylcholine levels, promoting brain energy metabolism, and preventing cell membrane degeneration.
CDP Choline is safe and well-tolerated; it’s considered as one of the best acetylcholine precursors. Acetylcholine is associated with faculties such as memory, recall, attention, and learning. This neurotransmitter plays a vital role in the transmission of nerve impulse between the brain cells.
Cytidine, which is released during the conversion of CDP Choline in the bloodstream, is a component of RNA. This substance is associated with gene expression; cytidine is required in coding and decoding of messages in the gene.
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Why Use CDP Choline?
Choline is indispensable for the body, for many of our day-to-day functions. It’s an essential nutrient, but not enough of choline is produced in by our body. Hence, we’re dependent on choline absorbed from food or supplements.
Those wanting to enhance cognition or prevent choline deficiency can take supplements. There are many forms of choline supplements, three of them are quite popular: Choline bitartrate, CDP Choline (Citicoline), and Alpha GPC.
Unlike Choline Bitartrate, CDP Choline has a favorable journey across the Blood-Brain Barrier. Although CDP Choline has only 18% of its weight in choline, the high bioavailability makes it one of the best precursors of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
CDP Choline gives many reasons for us to decide in its favor. In the digestive system, the CDP Choline supplements break down to cytidine and choline. These two compounds cross the blood-brain barrier, and in the brain, they again combine to form CDP Choline.
The unique feature of CDP Choline that should interest Nootropics users is the creation of Uridine. Not all cytidine and choline that land in the brain is converted again into CDP Choline. Part of the cytidine becomes Uridine, which is essential for the repair of cell membranes.
The Effects of Choline Deficiency
Some people take nootropic supplements to prevent or treat nutritional deficiency, while others choose to enhance their cognitive faculties. CDP Choline serves both the purposes.
It boosts memory, learning, focus, and other capabilities; at the same time, the supplement also maintains healthy brain function, prevents imbalance in brain chemistry, and protects from neurodegeneration.
We can’t blame the shortage of choline only on just the diet (i.e.) low consumption of choline-rich foods. One of the leading causes of choline deficiency is age. Yes, as we age, brain chemistry and function begin to change. The brain becomes less efficient in producing and absorbing the choline that’s made available to it (1). This affects the levels of the neurotransmitters, especially acetylcholine and dopamine. The decline in acetylcholine will affect memory, mood, focus, learning, reaction time, and information recall.
Age and acetylcholine decline also leads to cell membrane degeneration. So, regular use of CDP Choline or any nootropic stack with CDP Choline can put a stop to, delay, and treat age-related cognitive decline.
How Does CDP Choline Work?
CDP Choline and Mental Energy: The nootropic is believed to increase mental energy by boosting the production of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In a study, it was found that a dosage of 500 mg per day for six weeks, increased beta-nucleotide phosphate and phosphocreatine (2).
CDP Choline and Acetylcholine: Because this nootropic supplement is a choline source; the primary function of the nootropic is the increase in the production of acetylcholine (3). Interestingly, not just the choline component, even uridine that’s produced by the conversion of cytidine, is known for increasing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (4).
CDP Choline and Other Neurotransmitters: Acetylcholine isn’t the only neurotransmitter that’s benefited by consuming CDP Choline supplement. The nootropic has a positive influence on other vital neurotransmitters; it increases the concentration of norepinephrine and adrenaline (5), and the presence of uridine seems to increase dopamine release (6) (7).
Uridine and Cell Membrane: The importance of neurons is well-known, and uridine helps in repair and proper functioning of the brain cells. Uridine, which is produced from CDP Choline, helps build and repair of cell membranes (8). It’s also known to boost electrical signaling along the brain cells. By optimizing neuron functioning, the uridine molecules improve cognition, learning, memory, and recall.
The Benefits of CDP Choline (Citicoline)
Why would anyone opt for a one-dimensional supplement, when they can have CDP Choline, which helps the users in more ways than one? We’ll look at the many benefits of this nootropic very shortly. But, before that, it must be mentioned that CDP Choline is also known for its synergistic effect.
Let’s find out how CDP Choline helps cognitive health and functions in many ways.
CDP Choline Improves Memory
Citicoline’s memory benefits shouldn’t come as a surprise. CDP Choline is rated one of the best acetylcholine precursors, and it’s quite well-known to everyone that the neurotransmitter is associated with capabilities such as memory and recall.
Citicoline on its own improves memory by influencing the cholinergic system, and it works better when taken with Piracetam. In a study involving healthy rats, the synergistic effect of both these substances is visible. The use of both the Nootropics led to acute memory formation (9). In another study, the nootropic was used to treat forgetfulness – a significant symptom of Alzheimer’s (10).
CDP Choline Boosts Brain Energy
Is there anyone who doesn’t require mental energy to improve productivity and performance? We think not. Everyone needs it; students need brain energy to fulfill their academic goals, professionals and entrepreneurs to earn a living, and the elderly to perform their daily chores.
According to research, the use of Citicoline boosted frontal lobe bioenergetics and slowed down age-related cognitive decline. The nootropic was given to 16 participants (men and women). The dosage for the duration of the study – six weeks – was either 500 or 2000 mg of citicoline. At the end of the experiment, an MR spectroscopy analysis was conducted. Certain areas of the brain, particularly the parts linked to cognition, saw a definite increase in ATP (increased by 14 percent) and phospholipids in cell membranes (increased by 32 percent) (2).
Citicoline Treats ADHD
In a clinical trial that took place in the University of Utah, the participants were divided into three groups. Of the 75 volunteers (all healthy and young), some received a placebo, while others were given 250 mg or 500 mg of the citicoline supplement.
They took the supplements daily and at the end of 28 days, the participants were given tests, and their performance evaluated. The results only reinforced the belief that CDP Choline can boost attention span and help treat ADHD. The nootropic group (i.e.) those who received 250 or 500 mg of citicoline, demonstrated a higher ability to deal with the symptoms of ADHD. The results showed reduced impulsiveness, increased psychomotor ability, and improved attention (11).
Other Health Benefits of CDP Choline
There are several recent studies to show that the benefits of CDP Choline go beyond the cognitive faculties such as memory, attention, and learning. The use of citicoline may help treat cocaine dependency (12), glaucoma (13), stroke (14), and mild traumatic brain injuries (15).
CDP Choline Dosage
How much CDP Choline to consume depends on many factors – are you taking only CDP Choline or is it part of a stack? Why are you taking the nootropic supplement? Your answer to these questions will help you decide the ideal dosage for the nootropic CDP Choline.
Experts typically suggest a low dose for users wanting to boost brain energy and improve cognition. To treat immediate ischemic stroke a daily dose of 500 – 2000 mg is recommended; for chronic cerebrovascular diseases the long-term dosage is 600 mg per day; and, to deal with the cognitive decline the suggested daily dosage is 1000 – 2000 mg (16).
That said; it’s perfectly safe to take a maximum daily dosage of 2000 mg. The recommended dosage range is between 250 – 2000 mg per day, divided into two doses (early in the morning and afternoon). Some suggest having an interval of 8-12 hours between the two doses.
Taking high-dose of CDP Choline doesn’t translate into more benefits or quick results. According to a trial, the outcome or benefits accrued weren’t much different between groups that received dosages of 2000 mg and 4000 mg per day (17).
Possible Side Effects of CDP Choline
CDP Choline is safe, well tolerated, and non-toxic. Very high dose of the nootropic can be safely taken for a short period without fear of toxicity and side effects. But, it would not be a wise decision to take a very high dose, even for a short duration, without the express consent of a medical care provider.
Some of the possible side effects that CDP Choline users might experience include diarrhea, insomnia, headache, and indigestion. Some people are sensitive to CDP Choline in high doses; so taking too much of this nootropic might lead to anxiety, lethargy, and depression.
On its own or taken as part of a nootropic stack, CDP Choline has proven itself as an effective cognitive enhancer. Studies and clinical trials on CDP Choline have backed and confirmed much of the benefits of the nootropic. CDP Choline is quite well-known to improve memory, focus, learning, and clarity of thought. The acetylcholine precursor is also known to prevent and treat age-related cognitive degeneration.
- “Decreased Brain Choline Uptake in Older Adults. An in Vivo Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Study.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7674505?dopt=Abstract.
- “Citicoline Enhances Frontal Lobe Bioenergetics as Measured by Phosphorus Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18816480.
- “Pathways of Acetylcholine Synthesis, Transport and Release as Targets for Treatment of Adult-Onset Cognitive Dysfunction.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18289004.
- “Dietary Supplementation with Uridine-5′-Monophosphate (UMP), a Membrane Phosphatide Precursor, Increases Acetylcholine Level and Release in Striatum of Aged Rat.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17184749.
- “Intraperitoneal Administration of Choline Increases Serum Glucose in Rat: Involvement of the Sympathoadrenal System.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12173076.
- “Dietary Uridine-5′-Monophosphate Supplementation Increases Potassium-Evoked Dopamine Release and Promotes Neurite Outgrowth in Aged Rats.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16055952.
- “CDP-Choline: Pharmacological and Clinical Review.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8709678.
- “Citicoline (CDP-Choline): Mechanisms of Action and Effects in Ischemic Brain Injury.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7477743.
- “Effects of Citicholine and of the Combination Citicholine Piracetam on the Memory (Experiments on Mice).” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2392950.
- “Therapeutic Effects of CDP-Choline in Alzheimer’s Disease. Cognition, Brain Mapping, Cerebrovascular Hemodynamics, and Immune Factors.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8624120.
- “The Effect of Citicoline Supplementation on Motor Speed and Attention in Adolescent Males.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26179181.
- “Short-Term Treatment with Citicoline (CDP-Choline) Attenuates Some Measures of Craving in Cocaine-Dependent Subjects: a Preliminary Report.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10102764.
- “Citicoline – a Neuroprotector with Proven Effects on Glaucomatous Disease.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5710031/.
- “Current Knowledge on the Neuroprotective and Neuroregenerative Properties of Citicoline in Acute Ischemic Stroke.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4863531/.
- “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: a Neuropsychiatric Approach to Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Treatment.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2424119/.
- “CITICOLINE.” WebMD, webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1090/citicoline.
- “Effect of Oral CDP-Choline on Plasma Choline and Uridine Levels in Humans.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10974208.
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“CDP-Choline.” NootropicsExpert, https://nootropicsexpert.com/cdp-choline/ .
“CDP Choline.” Braintropic, www.braintropic.com/nootropics/cdp-choline/.
“CDP Choline: A Powerful Natural Memory Supplement.” Nootriment, https://nootriment.com/cdp-choline/ .