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Choline is an essential nutrient, and the precursor for neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine interacts directly with many functions such as the liver, brain, and nerve functions. It further extends to muscle control, energy level, as well as the metabolic process.


What is Choline?

Choline is an essential nutrient crucial for liver, brain, and nerve functions. It is also important for muscle motion and energy levels, as well as the metabolic process. It exists as phosphatidylcholine, a substance that comprises the structural part of the fat, hence discoverable in many types of foods. Naturally consisting of particular fats.

Choline – (also known as choline bitartrate, and trimethylethanolamine) is an essential nutrient. It is crucial for liver, brain, and nerve function. As well as muscle motion, energy levels and the metabolic process. It exists as phosphatidylcholine, a substance that comprises the structural part of the fat, hence discoverable in many types of foods. Naturally consisting of particular fats. 

Choline plays a major role in crucial procedures within the body. Mots of which perform multiple times a day. It is a water-soluble nutrient that belongs to other vitamins, such as folate and those in the B vitamin complex household. Much like B vitamins, choline plays a comparable function in regards to supporting energy and brain function, along with keeping the metabolic process active.When Does Supplementing with Choline Becomes Necessary?

Choline assists in the procedure of methylation, which is utilized to produce DNA, for nerve signaling, and detoxing. It’s also essential for performance of a critical neurotransmitter: acetylcholine.
Acetylcholine also assists nerves in interaction as well as functioning as an anti-aging neurotransmitter. It carries out other fundamental functions. Neither a mineral nor a vitamin, Choline is rather an ‘essential nutrient’, required for many of the body’s functions. And particularly for brain function.
While at this time there isn’t a Recommended Daily Intake for Choline developed by the USDA, it’s crucial to prevent a choline-deficiency. Lack of which is explained further on in the article.

Recommended Daily Intake

The Recommended Daily Intake ranges between 280 to 550 mg depending on a number of factors as shown in the table below

  • Infants (under 1): 125 – 150 mg
  • Children (1-8): 150 – 250 mg
  • Kids (8-13): 250 – 375 mg
  • Girls (14 & over): 425–550 mg
  • Guys (14 & over): 500 – 550 mg
  • Pregnant: 450 – 550 mg
  • Breastfeeding: 500 – 550 mg

Best Choline Sources

Choline is naturally found in foods such as eggs, liver, beef, salmon, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and breast milk. Eggs are in some cases called “brain food” because they are known for providing high quantities of choline. The following is some of the foods high in choline, providing high levels of choline naturally, in addition to lots of other nutrients. All portions listed are based upon the advised quantity of 550 mg daily. Choline foods list below

High Choline Foods

  • Beef Liver: 3 ounces: 283 mg (51% DV)
  • Salmon: 1 filet: 242 mg (44% DV)
  • Chickpeas: 1 cup raw: 198 mg (36% DV)
  • Split Peas: 1 cup raw: 188 mg (34% DV)
  • Navy Beans: 1 cup raw: 181 mg (32% DV)
  • Eggs: 1 big egg: 147 mg (27% DV)
  • Grass-Fed Beef: 3 ounces: 78 mg (14% DV)
  • Turkey: 3 ounces: 57 mg (10% DV)
  • Chicken Breast: 3 ounces: 50 mg (9% DV)
  • Cauliflower: 1 cup raw: 47 mg (8% DV)
  • Goat Milk: 1 cup: 39 mg (7% DV)
  • Brussel Sprouts: 1 cup raw: 17 mg (3% DV)

Acetylcholine and Depression

Chronic increase in acetylcholine can also cause anxiety or depressive symptoms.

Rodent studies confirm that increasing ACh levels by treating with physostigmine acutely can induce anxiety- and depression-like behaviors, whereas chronic treatment with the serotonergic antidepressant fluoxetine increases levels and activity of AChE, particularly in the hippocampus. Local administration of physostigmine or knockdown of AChE in the hippocampus is sufficient to increase anxiety- and depression-like behaviors that can be reversed by administration of fluoxetine, suggesting that they are consistent with symptoms of depression. Taken together, these studies show that hyperactive ACh signaling in hippocampus can contribute to depressive symptoms.

AChE is the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. The more active the enzyme is the faster acytylcholine breaks and the less it will effect a neuron. So increasing activity of AChE means decreasing acetylcholine and vice versa.

Optogenetic stimulation of cholinergic terminals in CA1 also increases activity of α4/β2* nAChRs and depolarizes a subpopulation of GABAergic interneurons in the stratum lacunosum moleculare, suggesting that one mechanism underlying the effects of cholinergic signaling on anxiety and depression may be activation of inhibitory interneurons. In contrast, lower levels of cholinergic stimulation in CA1 hyperpolarizes a subset of interneurons via M4 mAChRs and entrains others into a rhythmic bursting pattern. Elevated ACh may therefore modulate hippocampal activity by switching CA1 networks from a quiescent or stable bursting state, to a more depolarized state with a higher level of firing.

Cholinergic signaling in the hippocampus, amygdala, prefrontal cortex (PFC), and striatum modulates behavioral responses to stressors. Despite the fact that global and hippocampal increases in ACh tone result in anxiety- and depression-like behaviors, the effects of cholinergic signaling on stress-related behaviors are complex and vary across brain areas. Stress induces release of ACh in the hippocampus and PFC but not the amygdala, perhaps because the basal firing rate of medial septal neurons innervating the amygdala is high and stress cannot further increase ACh levels. Similarly, basal ACh tone in the striatum is high due to tonic firing of intrinsic cholinergic interneurons, and behaviorally relevant stimuli result in a pause in their firing leading to cue-dependent learning. These findings suggest that healthy behavior is dependent on appropriately balanced cholinergic signaling across brain regions (Fig. 2). [R]

Benefits and Effects

What Are the Benefits of Choline?

  1. Central Nervous System Support
  2. Neuroprotective Against Cognitive Degeneration
  3. Improves Cognitive Function, Attention and Mood
  4. Improves Memory
  5. Helps Schizophrenia, Bipolar, and Autism
  6. Increases Energy, Athletic Performance and Power Output
  7. Speeds up Recovery

Supporting research:

Central Nervous System Support

Choline helps form tissue within the nervous system that plays a part in brain development and growth. It can improve signaling capacity of nerves, support structural integrity, and protect vital neuronal membranes. [R]

Neuroprotective Against Cognitive Degeneration

Another advantage of choline is its capability to keep your mind mentally sharp as you age.

Since it belongs to cell membranes and neurotransmitters that utilizes nerve signaling, choline also contributes to memory perseverance and preventing dementia, amnesia and other cognitive degeneration conditions.

As we age, our brain become less flexible. Choline does a crucial task here. It preserves brain flexibility by working to maintain levels of acetylcholine, which naturally decrease in the process of aging. Some studies suggest low levels of acetylcholine might cause a cognitive decline, that being inclusive of Alzheimer’s and dementia. [R]

Clients who develop Alzheimer’s often show a deficiency in acetylcholine levels. Some medications prescribed to manage Alzheimer’s do so by simulate choline’s impact of increasing this neurotransmitter’s levels. [R]

Improves Cognitive Function, Attention and Mood

Acetylcholine is vital for brain function. Cognitive decline is often due to lack of sufficient acetylcholine levels within the brain. [R]

In 1391 individuals, greater choline consumption associated with better cognitive efficiency in spoken as well as visual memory. [R]

One research study reveals that subjects taking CDP-choline + caffeine drinks had measurable enhancement in cognitive capabilities [R]

Sixty healthy adult females aged 40– 60 who took CDP-choline for 28 days notice improving attention [R]

This elevating effect is explainable by the additional choline present, which increases attentiveness and promotes clarity. It’s also a link to its production of human growth hormone, which provides energizing, longevity effects. [R] In combination with other nootropics, it offers adequate choline to achieve optimal cognitive enhancement effects, and it prevents the minor headaches often associates use of Piracetam and pretty much all its derivatives.

Improves Memory

The best recognition of it goes to its capacity in improving memory. This effect is mainly due to the increase of choline it makes available for conversion to acetylcholine, which is profoundly correlating with cognitive functions and the ability to create and revive memories. Studies confirm its efficacy as treatment for memory impairment due to aging; including Alzheimer’s and dementia.

It has further proven to be capable of recovering memory in volunteers following brief chemically-induced amnesia. [R1R2R3]

Helps Schizophrenia, Bipolar, and Autism

Schizophrenia and autism developed due to genetic predispositions may also be avoided by prenatal choline supplements. [R]

In rats, it was found that prenatal choline supplements can help reduce the likelihood of at-risk subjects developing these disorders later on in life. [R]

In a study performed on subjects with Schizophrenia, subjects taking CDP-choline showed improved cognition and working memory after treatment. [R]

A few studies have shown that choline could help treat bipolar disorder and may be a useful complement to pharmaceutical interventions. [R]

Increases Energy, Athletic Performance and Power Output, and Speeds up Recovery

Because it stimulates the production of human growth hormone (HGH), Alpha-GPC is valuable for individuals looking to perform better, increase lean muscle mass, feel peak energy during workouts and recover quickly afterward. A pilot study shows that 600 mg of Alpha-GPC taken 90 minutes before bench pressing increases power output by 14%. [R123]

Mechanism of Action

How Does Choline Work?

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

After ingestion, it 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 and vital to most cognitive functions. In particular to the ones relating to memory and learning.

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

On Acetylcholine

It is a fundamental associate of many cognitive functions including memory formation, learning capacity, and attention. By stimulating the production of acetylcholine, it acts as a neuroprotectant; maintaining neuronal health and preventing potential damage. [R] [R]

On Dopamine

Oral ingestion of Alpha-GPC can also be dopaminergic, by increasing dopamine release during neuronal action potentials and possibly by stimulating the expression of receptors. It also has involvement in increasing brain serotonin concentrations following oral administration. [R]


How To Take Choline?

Alpha-GPC digests and absorbs smoothly and is gentle on the stomach taken at the typical dose of 300mg. Although many nootropists tend to prefer a dose of 600mg, with a total daily intake ranging from 300 to 1200 mg, either at once or split into two doses.

Personally I find 300mg is effective enough especially because I almost always take it as part of a stack. Frequently with Aniracetam, Phenylpiracetam, Coluracetam, or Noopept. On the few occasions where I took it on its own, I still felt very at ease and eager to produce, learn, move.

As with any other nootropic, start with the lowest effective dose and build up gradually as desired.

Side Effects

What Are the Side Effects of Choline?

Some side effects rarely occur, such as headaches, fatigue, nervousness, nausea, diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress. It may rarely induce dizziness and low blood pressure in some individuals.

Personally never experienced any side effects from its use. But I’ve never taken more than 300mg in one dose (Alpha-GPC) and never more than 600mg in a 24-hours frame.


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 can benefit from due to 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, its an approved medical treatment in Europe for a number of conditions relating to cognitive impairment, Ischemic Stroke, to mention a few.

Choline nootropics are affordable and easily accessible. Alpha-GPC is supposedly the most expensive out of the choline supplements. I’ve used both that and CDP-choline, both of which had identical effects. As a matter of fact, only now I started realizing that I might have been feeling citicoline more profoundly than I tend to feel Alpha-GPC. (I prefer it generally because it adds so much convenience to my life, when getting it along with a bunch of preformulated good mix in MindLab Pro.

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

Further Readings

  1. Alpha-GPCCiticoline (CDP-choline)
  2. Aniracetam
  3. Piracetam
  4. Phenylpiracetam
  5. Oxiracetam
  6. Fasoracetam
  7. Coluracetam
  8. Sunifiram
  9. Noopept.
  10. The Ultimate Nootropics FAQ

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