Choline as a nootropic is extremely important for your brain.

It’s found in every single cell of your body and is vital for creating neuron membranes.

Your brain needs choline to make acetylcholine. This is the neurotransmitter which regulates memory, learning, and focus.

Without choline, you wouldn’t be able to think, read, or remember anything.

Not only that, choline deficiency can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. (12)

As for the benefits of choline as a nootropic, they include:

  • Repairs and builds new neurons: choline is a building block for uridine. Uridine helps synthesize phosphatidylcholine (PC), which is a lipid that encases your brain cells. Basically, choline provides your brain with the raw building blocks for repairing itself and growing new neurons. This leads to improved memory, focus, learning, and overall cognition.
  • Produces energy: ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is your fuel and energy currency. CDP-choline, a form of choline, is shown to increase ATP production in your brain cells. Thus helping prevent brain fog and mental fatigue.
  • Optimizes mood and neurotransmitters: Choline helps your body create acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter which regulates your cognitive function. In addition, choline also improves your dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine system. Which directly translates to improved mood. (1, 2)

Here we’ll take a closer look at choline and how it affects your brain performance.


What is CDP Choline?

There is more than one form of choline.

Just like you have magnesium citrate, magnesium aspartate, or magnesium oxide. You also have CDP-choline, Alpha GPC, choline bitartrate, and choline citrate.

We’ll explain how they differ from each other (and which is the best) in a second.

For now, though, let’s briefly talk about CDP-choline.

See, CDP choline is a water-soluble nutrient related to B vitamins. It’s naturally occurring in your body.

However, your brain uses choline faster than your body can create, which makes it an essential nutrient to obtain from diet and/or supplementation. (3)

Once you ingest it, CDP choline converts to choline and cytidine.

But once it gets in your brain, it converts back to CDP choline. There it helps with the repair and growth of new neurons, along with affecting many brain pathways.(4)

Much like you need bricks, wood, and other material to build a house. You need choline to create neurotransmitters such as dopamine and acetylcholine. (5)

While acetylcholine affects your thinking and memory. Dopamine is the reward molecule which keeps you motivated to chase your goals.

So, what happens when you don’t have enough building blocks for your brain?

The answer may shock you, but, the brain starts eating its own choline molecules from cell membranes.

Over time, this can lead to low acetylcholine levels and neuron breakdown. Which translates to cognitive decline, memory issues, trouble learning new things, and difficulty with orientation.


what does choline do in the brain

What Does Choline do?

There are many functions of choline in the brain. But these are the three most important ones:

I. Choline helps with the production of neurotransmitters

Choline sources such as CDP choline convert to choline and cytidine in your gut and liver.

After these two pass the blood-brain barrier, they turn back to CDP-Choline. Once in the brain, CDP-choline helps to produce neurotransmitters that are essential for survival.

II. Choline repairs your brain cells

The outer membrane layer of your neurons is made of phosphatidylcholine (PC). PC is a source of choline, and it helps protect your brain cells and enhance their metabolism.

However, when your choline levels are low, your brain starts chipping away at the neuron membrane (PC) to get more choline.

If your neurons have to constantly give away its own reserves of PC (and choline), they lose their physical integrity. As a result, nerve function breaks down, leading to cognitive decline. (6)

III. Choline helps produce uridine

Besides being a building block for acetylcholine, CDP choline is also essential for the production of uridine.

Now, here’s why you need uridine:

If your body notices that its choline levels are running low, it starts consuming your phosphatidylcholine (PC) reserves from fatty cell membranes – as we said.

But when there’s enough uridine in the brain, this doesn’t happen. Because your body can synthesize PC from uridine.

Ultimately, this means that CDP choline repairs those same cell membranes that your body uses to produce more choline, thanks to uridine.


Sources of Choline: Which is the Best?

As I’ve briefly mentioned above, there are a number of choline sources.

These include choline bitartrate, Alpha GPC, choline citrate, and CDP-choline.

So, what is the difference between these?

Let’s take a closer look to find out:

CDP-Choline

CDP-Choline contains around 18% choline by weight.

CDP-choline’s advantage over choline bitartrate and citrate is that it can easily cross the blood-brain barrier.

This means that the choline you ingest actually gets absorbed and utilized by your body.

CDP-choline works on rebuilding fatty cell membranes, along with serving as a building block for acetylcholine.

Not only that, but CDP-choline also breaks down into cytidine when ingested.

In turn, your brain uses cytidine to produce uridine, which is essential for protecting and rebuilding your neurons.

Uridine enables you to think faster, have vivid memories, and remember things you learn. And CDP-choline is one of the best ways to boost its production.

Alpha GPC

Alpha GPC is obtained from sunflower lecithin and is naturally found in small amounts in your brain.

It contains about 40% of choline by weight which quickly enters your brain, thanks to its high bioavailability.

In fact, Alpha GPC might be your brain’s favorite source of choline.

Here’s why:

When your brain choline’s reserves run low, as we said, the brain starts breaking down the phosphatidylcholine (PC) from your neuron membranes. This PC then gets converted into Alpha GPC – a form of choline.

However, when you supplement with Alpha GPC, you directly give your brain the fuel it needs. Which means it doesn’t need to eat its own neurons to get choline.