Citicoline (CDP-choline)


Summary: Citicoline or CDP-choline is a safe, potent, and extremely well-tolerated nootropic. Enhances memory and protects the brain on its own. In combination with other supplements, it works as a powerful potentiator, especially racetams.


What is Citicoline?

CDP Choline (also known as Citicoline or Cytidine diphosphocholine) is a potent nootropic and a highly bioavailable choline source that is praised for its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier quickly, improving memory and protecting the brain against memory injury. Furthermore; it heightens focus, increases mental energy, and provides thought clarity.

Recent studies suggest its usefulness in the treatment of many medical problems from head injuries to stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases to glaucoma, ADHD, and even cocaine dependency.

Citicoline, also known as cytidine diphosphate-choline or cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine is an intermediate in the generation of phosphatidylcholine from choline, a common biochemical process in cell membranes. Citicoline is naturally occurring in the cells of human and animal tissue, in particular the organs.


For nootropists – (new term just coined here!), the most exciting part of supplementing with a choline source is its ability to amplify and enhance the effects of other nootropics. It works synergistically with racetams nootropics such as Aniracetam, Sunifiram, Fasoracetam, potentiating the effects of memory boosting such as piracetam and pramiracetam while preventing the minor headaches that often come along with racetam use.

CDP Choline, along with Alpha-GPC (and Centrophenoxine) are the most useful choline-source supplements available.

Benefits & Effects

CDP-choline Improves Memory

CDP Choline is popular for its effect on improving memory and preventing memory loss. It associates with anti-aging and longevity, as well as having the possibility of being an add-on to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. (R)

Increases Mental Stamina and Works as Neuroprotectant

Clinical trials show CDP-Choline to affect mental energy positively, increasing frontal lobe bioenergetics and mitigating the cognitive declines associated with aging. Thereby becoming a neuroprotective agent. (R)

Heightens Focus and Concentration

CDP-choline increases the ability to concentrate for extended periods of time and minimizes distraction, which makes it essential for studying, learning new information, or completing enduring and mentally demanding tasks. This seems to be true even in severe cases of conditions like brain injuries and Alzheimer’s disease. (R)

To benefit from the focus, concentration, and enduring prologing tasks, you could pair it with an amino acid nootropic like N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine. The senergy of the two will improve the ability to concentrate to a new level.

This is especially true in subjects with ADHD (like myself). I’ve found including NALT and Citicoline together in my moring stack to be one of the most beneficial for pulling through in my corporate office job.

Potentiating the Effects of other Nootropics

Many Nootropists consider CDP-choline a must-have in any stack. Especially those including racetams. It works particularly well with racetams, amplifying their effects and preventing the associating headache due to the utilization of acetylcholine within the brain.

Furthermore, it seems to delay the onset of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease when used in combination with piracetam according to a study by the Biomedical Research Center in Spain. (R)

Mechanism of Action

CDP-choline is a “slightly” stimulating nootropic – depending on whom you ask. Many people myself included find it to be more than “slightly” stimulating. However, I take it along with a couple other supplements so my experience shouldn’t be as credible.

Citicoline restores and repairs neuronal damage, increases the dopamine levels in the central nervous system, and furthermore, enhances the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is especially important for those using racetam nootropics.

Post consumption, CDP-choline breaks down into choline, and cytidine. After which it flows throughout the body and  easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.

The cytidine then converts into uridine, a nucleotide base essential to neural membrane synthesis. The choline release is cholinergic, increasing levels of choline within the brain.

Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine,  vital to most cognitive functions — particularly those relating to memory and learning capacity.

Racetams are acetylcholine agonists compounds that increase the production and release of acetylcholine. When sufficient choline is available, it creates notable cognitive improvements such as memory improvement and heighten focus, thought clarity, and faster recall. Additionally, it prevents racetam headaches.


How To Take Citicoline?

How to take: the typical dose is usually ranging from 250mg being the lowest effective, to up to 1000 mg while keeping an  8 to 12-hour time intervals.

I find 250mg effective enough to potentiate racetam effects. I’ve also taken 500mg at other times but that was in a preformulated nootropic, which is  MindLab Pro.

Side Effects

Rare occurrences are:

  • Indigestion
  • Headache
  • Insomnia – this is applicable if taken late in the evening
  • Diarrhea

These are the reported possible (although rare) side effects.

I have been using both Citicoline and Alpha-GPC for over a year or two now and never experienced any of those.


CDP-choline is an excellent memory enhancing and focus amplifying nootropic that can be (and should be) added to almost any stack.

Using it on its own is effective enough for that mild stimulation and to fire your focus. Then pair it with a racetam, and the effects of both are amplified to an amazing extent.

Furthermore, it provides neuroprotection. That is something anyone living today can benefit from due to so many reasons such as environmental changes and the accumulation of oxidative stress in today’s world.

It is very well tolerated and safe — there are no reports of serious adverse effects on CDP-choline, and enlighten me if I’m wrong.

Moreover, it is an approved medical treatment in Europe for a number of conditions such as cognitive impairment (R) as well as Ischemic Stroke (R), to mention a few.

It is affordable and easily accessible. You can get it for around $15 for a 60 capsules of 300mg, and that is the first result I looked at for the sake of elaborating. I tend to use Alpha-GPC more often which is slightly more expensive, but no more than $10 more than citicoline.

It is worth buying for anyone looking after cognition boost and overall brain health. But especially worth it for those using multiple nootropics at a time, including racetams.

I mean at this point, I would not even bother taking any racetam if I don’t have a choline source to pair it with.

User Experience

This question was asked on Reddit’s Nootropic geeks about users experiences on Citicoline, which had 19 answers. I will share a few from both positive and negative to not seem biased.

The question asked was this:

“Has anyone had a boost in long term memory using cdp choline?”

and 4 out of the 19 answered the following:

I have but I take 1 gram daily. There’s tons of studies on it and older adults on helping memory so it does work.


I can’t say whether it was the choline or not since I use it with noopept but I will say both have helped with long term memory.


The real answer is no, CDP Choline is not profound enough to warrant noticeable increases in memory. Slightly, perhaps. Significant? No chance.


Due to infamous way of reddit answers end up leading to the most random off topic discussions, I had to add my answer as the 4th to have a total of 4 testimonials here.

Personal Experience

yes yes yes and a 100 yes. i’ve been using both alpha gpc and citicoline/cdp for about 2 years and has seem tremendous positive impact both onset and long-term.


So there you have it all. Now its on you to do the rest of the research, if necessary, and decide for yourself. Good luck and let me know how you respond to it! 

Further Readings

Choline: The Essential Vitamin Nutrient

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