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can Alpha GPC improve executive function?

if you have researched nootropics for brain health the chances are you are familiar Alpha GlycerylPhosphorylCholine. Alpha GPC is a potent form of the nutrient choline which naturally occurs in the brain, and it is the building block to acetylcholine;  a chemical that is released when conducting cognitive tasks. Whatsmore, research shows choline is positively associated with executive function.

what is executive function?

executive function is a set of mental skills that include flexible thinking, self-control, and working memory. These skills help you process information, remember, make decisions, react to situations, and manage time [1]. Brain imaging research linked executive function to activity in parts of the brain involving sensory information, coordination, and decision making [2].  When working optimally this helps maintain cognition and social behaviour.

evidence suggests that humans are able to modulate executive functioning via dietary intake and choline is proving to be a particular isolated nutrient of interest among researchers [3]. Choline supplementation during pregnancy may support fetal cognitive development [16] whilst a 2014 study found that choline improved executive function in healthy adults [14]. Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that out of 2195 adults, those with higher choline concentrations showcased better executive function [6].

what is choline?

It is the precursor to acetylcholine [4] which is released when conducting cognitive tasks such as memory retention and learning [5]. Small amounts of choline are made in the liver but it is insufficient for maintaining healthy regulatory function and The US National Institute for Health defines choline as an essential nutrient. Despite its importance in neuronal communication, The US National Institute for Health estimates that 90% of the American population are choline-deficient. Inadequate levels of choline can have an adverse impact on cognitive performance and it has been associated with poorer memory in older men [15]. The highest bioavailable form of choline that has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier is Alpha GPC.

Alpha GPC - evidence for memory and learning

Alpha GPC has been shown to increase relative spikes of acetylcholine 1-3 hours post-ingestion [7].  A study of 2044 patients with mild cognitive impairment received a daily dose of Alpha GPC. This led to 71% of patients reporting no cognitive decline or forgetfulness [10].

increased concentration of acetylcholine has been shown to improve attention during sustained attention performance tasks in animal studies[8]. In another study, published by Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, Alpha GPC administered for 20 days had improved learning, memory capacity amongst rats with deficits in learning and memory capacity [9].

is Alpha-GPC the best form of choline?

it's important to note that only some forms of choline are absorbed in the brain [11].  Food-derived choline and other forms of choline such as choline bitartrate require complex mechanisms of action in order to enter the brain. Alpha GPC and Citicoline (CDP) can freely cross the blood-brain barrier but Alpha GPC is preferential as it is 40% choline by weight [7] compared to CDP  which is 18.5% choline [12]. If you are considering supplementing with Alpha GPC that it may be useful to keep in mind that not all forms of choline are equal, some forms of Alpha-GPC only offer 50%.

brain feed Alpha GPC

if you're looking for a vegan-friendly choline supplement, brain feed offers the world's first 99% 500 mg Alpha GPC capsule [13]. It is recommended that you take one per day, ideally in the morning, at lunch, or just before your start work.

[1]WebMD (2021) What executive function problems look like?[2]Nowrangi et al. (2014) Systematic Review of Neuroimaging Correlates of Executive Functioning: Converging Evidence From Different Clinical Populations. Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. [3]Cohen et al. (2016) The effect of healthy dietary consumption on executive cognitive functioning in children and adolescents: a systematic review. [4]Zeisel et al. (1991) Choline, an essential nutrient for humans. [5]Hasselmo, M.E. (2006) The role of acetylcholine in learning and memory. Current opinion in neurobiology. [6]Nurk et al. (2012) Plasma free choline, betaine and cognitive performance: the Hordaland Health Study. British Journal of Nutrition. [7]Examine (2018) Alpha GPC. [8]Himmelheber et al. (2000) Increase in cortical acetylcholine release during sustained attention performance in rats. Cognitive Brain Research.  [9]Drago et al. (1992) Behavioral effects of L-α-glycerylphosphorylcholine: Influence on cognitive mechanisms in the rat. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. [10]Sangiorgi et al. (1994) α‐Glycerophosphocholine in the Mental Recovery of Cerebral Ischemic Attacks. Pharmacology of Aging Processes: Methods of Assessment and Potential Interventions. [11]Lockman, P.R. & Allen, D.D. (2002) The Transport of Choline. Drug development and Industrial Pharmacy.  [12]Carvajal et al. (2020) Citicoline for treating people with acute ischemic stroke (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.  [13]Brain feed (2018) alpha GPC. [14]Knott et al. (2014) CDP-choline: Effects of the procholine supplement on sensory gating and executive function in healthy volunteers stratified for low, medium and high P50 suppression. Journal of Psychopharmacology. [15]Goldberg et al. (2019) Working Memory and Inadequate Micronutrient Consumption in Healthy Seniors. Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics. [16]Zeisel, S. (2013) Nutrition in pregnancy: the argument for including a source of choline. International Journal of Womens' Health. 

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