An essential nutrient required for a myriad of functions, choline should be part of a well-rounded diet. Studies indicate that only about 10% of Americans consume enough dietary choline.
Additionally, endurance athletes, and people who regularly consume alcohol, are at risk of choline deficiency. Now is an important time to admit that you're probably among the looming majority of choline neglectors.
Choline is classified as an essential nutrient. While it can be synthesized within the body, we only produce insufficient amounts -- and doing so compromises the structural integrity of our cells. Phosphatidylcholine helps to compose the lipid membrane of cells, and when enough free choline isn't available, your body breaks this structure down to obtain the compound.
This is an interesting and vicious example of biological self-immolation -- a process that favors short-term performance at the behest of compromised long-term health. Supplementing choline into your diet may circumnavigate this issue. In other words, you can have your cake and eat it too. Below are a few benefits:
Improved global cognitive function
Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is implicated in memory, intelligence, and mood. Animal studies suggest that high choline intake protects the brain's ability to form and recall memories despite the progression of age. In particular, "choline-supplemented older mice performed as well as young three-month-old mice." The supplemented mice were also observed to have increased communication within the hippocampus.
Heart health and depression
Dietary choline is an essential source of methyl groups for many biological processes. For example, one metabolite of choline is trimethylglycine, or betaine (an ingredient in many pre-workout formulations), which participates in the production of SAM-e. Deficits of SAM-e are implicated in Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and more.[27,28,29]
Higher dietary intake of choline is associated with lower inflammatory markers, and reduced symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Acetylcholine is the most abundant neurotransmitter in the entire body, responsible for muscle contractions. "Consumption of supplemental choline can also increase the release of acetylcholine from nerve endings, including those that cause skeletal muscle to contract," according to a study published in Pharmalogical Reviews.
Unsurprisingly, intensive exercise results in a significant reduction in plasma choline levels, particularly prolonged and strenuous activity. After two hours of exercise, participants lost about 40% to 50% of free choline.
The good news is that ingesting choline pre-exercise can not only prevent this loss, but raise it above baseline for up to two hours post-exercise (2g of free choline was used in this study).
In one study, individual performance was enhanced after choline supplementation compared to when the same individuals consumed a placebo.
Many different choline formulations are available. There is a huge price disparity between certain supplements. Some are very cheap and others comparatively expensive. Naturally, you would want potency to increase along with price -- which the expensive ones certainly do -- but the real advantage of CDP-choline (expensive) over something like choline citrate (cheap) is its fanciness.
All choline precursors follow the same protocol: choline bound with some other chemical. For the cheap supplements, the choline is bound to another relatively inactive compound, so you're essentially getting just choline. But the expensive acetylcholine precursors consist of choline bound with other biologically active compounds that enhance absorption or produce other reactions that work to multiply choline's effects. Below is a list of the most common formulations. Each has its own particular benefits and detractions.
Choline bitartrate and choline citrate
These two are thrown together because they are so similar in the most important respects. Simple choline salts are cheap as dirt, but have questionable potency. Users have complained of stomach aches because of the amount consumed for desired effects, but you get what you pay for.
You may ask why these compounds are not very potent. Technically free choline, due to its polarity, would not be able to cross the blood-brain barrier. While we have a choline transport system, it's sadly inefficient and seems to decline with age.
Hands down, this is the best choline source available. Multitudes of animal research and fair amounts of human research attest to the efficacy of CDP-choline, or citicoline.
Human studies have shown neuro-protective and neuro-regenerative effects
and a proven efficacy for improving the following conditions:
Age-related memory and learning deficits
Glaucoma-induced ocular damage
Traumatic brain injury
CDP-choline is more expensive than bitartrate and citrate, but generally cheaper than alpha-GPC.
A natural choline compound already swimming around your brain and derived from soy lecithin, this is probably the most bioavailable choline source, but also the most expensive. You should expect similar effects as you would with citicoline. One study found alpha-GPC more effective than citicoline for vascular dementia, with another showing higher plasma choline levels after alpha administration over CDP.
As you can see, alpha-GPC and CDP-choline are the two rock stars of acetylcholine precursors. Some studies suggest GPC is better, but there is just so much more research attesting to the efficacy of CDP-choline.
You may notice by now that you need an acetyl to go with that lonely choline for magic to happen. That is absolutely true, and a great addition to a basic choline stack is ALCAR, or acetylcarnitine.
Acetyl L-carnitine is great stuff -- no argument. It's naturally produced in your body during strenuous exercise, and supplementation has dramatic effects, irrespective of its role in energy production.
By donating the acetyl group, ALCAR enhances acetylcholine production.
Both ALCAR and L-carnitine stimulate muscle production.
It stimulates nerve growth factor release.
Improves neuronal membrane fluidity (more communication).
Acetylcholine receptor agonist.
Increases the utilization of glucose, ketone bodies, and lipid substrates in the brain.
Improves choline uptake (thus acetylcholine synthesis).
Aside from the pro-cognitive effects, ALCAR may have overall lifespan enhancing effects. Simply put, our mitochondria (powerhouse of cells) have to put up with decades of abuse, and they produce toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals. A damaged mitochondrion is leaky and our current understanding of the aging process points many fingers toward this compromised structure. "Acetyl-L-carnitine, a high-energy mitochondrial substrate, appears to reverse many age-associated deficits in cellular function."
This compound is frequently cited as a choline precursor, but it probably has little if anything to do with acetylcholine production. Rather, DMAE seems to bind with phospholipids that compose cellular membranes. Where phosphatidylcholine would be, phosphatidyl-dimethylaminoethanol now takes its place, increasing membrane permeability and antioxidant capacity.
Also known as meclofenoxate, this is basically supercharged DMAE (specifically an ester of DMAE). Though limited evidence suggests mental stimulation and memory improvement, it has beneficial phospholipid properties with little direct effects on choline or acetylcholine.
If you are taking any of the racetam derivatives, then you probably know that the cholinergic system is involved with their effects. Many people believe this means your brain on piracetam, for example, will consume more choline than otherwise. Two studies, conducted on rats, assert that piracetam and oxiracetam reduces hippocampal acetylcholine levels.[32,33] Regardless, other animal studies suggest a synergistic effect with racetams and a choline source. For many, choline and piracetam is like bacon and eggs -- it just feels right for them to keep each other company.
Although it's not technically a "racetam", Noopept is structurally very similar, and yields a piracetam-like effect, but many think it's even better.
It stacks incredibly well with choline -- you can read more on the Noopept blog post linked just above.
According to the Institute of Medicine, the adequate intake (AI) of choline is 425mg/day for women and 550mg/day for men. As a reference, any of the choline salts (bitartrate, citrate) are about 41% free choline. So something over 1000mg should satisfy your minimum daily requirements.
Remember that choline is present in many foods, most prominently in beef, beef liver, and eggs.
Hands down, CDP choline (citicoline) is the best choline source available.
It's difficult to determine what the optimal dose would be for cognitive function. The cholinergic system is tricky, and everyone is different. With that said, the most common dose for all choline precursors falls somewhere between 250mg to 2000mg.
None of these statements constitute medical advice. These supplements are not regulated or approved by the FDA. You should consult a medical doctor before embarking on self-treatment.
The side effects of choline supplementation seem few, mild, and transient. As mentioned above, people occasionally complain of stomach discomfort. If you happen to have the rare genetic disorder, trimethylaminuria, consuming too much choline will make your body exude the odor of overripe fish.
- Alvarez, XA; Methods and Findings in Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology; "Double-blind placebo-controlled study with citicoline in APOE genotyped Alzheimer's disease patients. Effects on cognitive performance, brain bioelectrical activity and cerebral perfusion;" 1999
- Secades, JJ; Methods and Findings in Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology; "CDP-choline: pharmacological and clinical review;" 1995
- Marti Masso, JF; Clinical Therapeutics; "Citicoline in the treatment of Parkinson's disease;" 1991
- Cubells, JM; Clinical Therapeutics; "Clinical trial on the use of cytidine diphosphate choline in Parkinson's disease;" 1988
- Babb, SM, et. al.; Psychopharmacology; "Chronic citicoline increases phosphodiesters in the brains of healthy older subjects: an in vivo phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy study;" 2002
- Antoni D?valos, MD, et. al.; American Heart Association; "Oral Citicoline in Acute Ischemic Stroke An Individual Patient Data Pooling Analysis of Clinical Trials;" 2002
- Lukas, SE, et. al; Psychopharmacology; "Effects of short-term citicoline treatment on acute cocaine intoxication and cardiovascular effects;" 2001
- Renshaw, PF, et. al.; Psychopharmacology; "Decreased activity of brain phospholipid metabolic enzymes in human users of cocaine and methamphetamine;" 1999
- Renshaw, PF, et. al.; Psychopharmacology; "Short-term treatment with citicoline (CDP-choline) attenuates some measures of craving in cocaine-dependent subjects: a preliminary report;" 1999
- Parisi, V, et. al.; Progress in Brain Research; "Evidence of the neuroprotective role of citicoline in glaucoma atients;" 2008
- Secades, JJ, et. al.; Methods and Findings in Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology; "CDP-choline: pharmacological and clinical review;" 1995
- Zafonte, R.; Journal of Neurotrauma; "The citicoline brain injury treatment (COBRIT) trial: Design and methods;" 2009
- Deutsch, SI, et. al.; Clinical Neuropharmacology; "First administration of cytidine diphosphocholine and galantamine in schizophrenia: A sustained alpha7 nicotinic agonist strategy;" 2008
- De Jesus Moreno Moreno, M; Clinical Therapeutics; "Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer's dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: A multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial;" 2003
- Di Perri, R, et. al; Journal of International Medical Research; "A multicentre trial to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine versus cytosine diphosphocholine in patients with vascular dementia." 1991
- Shigenaga, MK, et. al.; PNAS; "Oxidative damage and mitochondrial decay in aging;" 1994
- Na?ecz, KA, et. al.; Molecular Aspects of Medicine; "Carnitine: transport and physiological functions in the brain;" 2004
- Gibson, GE, et. al.; Biochemical Pharmacology; "Studies on the metabolic pathway of the acetyl group for acetylcholine synthesis;" 1980
- Aureli, T, et. al.; Brain Research; Aging brain: Effect of acetyl-L-carnitine treatment on rat brain energy and phospholipid metabolism. A study by 31P and 1H NMR spectroscopy;" 1990
- Angelucci, L, et. al; Journal of Neuroscience Research; "Nerve growth factor binding in aged rat central nervous system: Effect of acetyl-L-carnitine;" 1988
- Plovesan, P, et. al.; Brain Research; "Acetyl-L-carnitine treatment increases choline acetyltransferase activity and NGF levels in the CNS of adult rats following total fimbria-fornix transection;" 1994
- Precursors of acetyl groups in acetylcholine in the brain in vivo. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Biochim+Biophys+Acta.+1970+Jun%3B208(3)%3A538-40.
- Acetyl-L-carnitine as a precursor of acetylcholine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Neurochem+Res.+1990+Jun%3B15(6)%3A597-601.
- Acetyl-L-carnitine and Alzheimer's disease: pharmacological considerations beyond the cholinergic sphere. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8239306
- Is 2-dimethylaminoethanol (deanol) indeed a precursor of brain acetylcholine? A gas chromatographic evaluation. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/850128
- On the role of intracellular physicochemistry in quantitative gene expression during aging and the effect of centrophenoxine. A review https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0167494389900423
- Brain S-adenosylmethionine levels are severely decreased in Alzheimer's disease. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8752143
- Oral S-adenosylmethionine in depression: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2183633
- Choline and betaine in health and disease. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20446114
- Comparison of the efficacy of inhaled budesonide and oral choline in patients with allergic rhinitis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15806211
- Zeisel, Steven; Annual Review of Nutrition; "Choline: critical role during fetal development and dietary requirements in adults;"
- Piracetam diminishes hippocampal acetylcholine levels in rats. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Life+Sci.+1981+Mar+9%3B28(10)%3A1091-3
- Effect of oxiracetam and piracetam on central cholinergic mechanisms and active-avoidance acquisition. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3594455
- Profound effects of combining choline and piracetam on memory enhancement and cholinergic function in aged rats. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7301036
- Wurtman, RJ; Pharmacological Reviews; "Precursor control of neurotransmitter synthesis;" 1980 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6115400
- Spector SA, Jackman MR, Sabounjian LA, Sakas C, Landers DM, Willis VVT. Effect of choline supplementation on fatigue in trained cyclists. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1995;27(5):669-73.
- Conlay LA, Wurtman RJ, Blusztajn JK, Covielia IJ, Maher TJ, Evoniuk GE; NEJM, "Decreased plasma choline concentrations in marathon runners;" 1986.
- The differential effects of meclofenoxate on memory loss in the elderly. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/329662
- Choline: an essential nutrient for public health.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19906248
Choline News on PricePlow
Jan 31, 2023 YouTube Video
Kaged MINDSET w/ Brian Rand & Team Kaged | Episode 081
Jan 19, 2023 YouTube Video
Kaged Mindset Unboxing: Find your FLOW
Dec 24, 2022 YouTube Video
NEW CORE FURY V2 | Core Nutritionals Pre-Workout
Dec 19, 2022 YouTube Video
DO IT FOR 'MERICA! The New Merica Labz F-BOMB (Fruit Cocktail!)
Nov 08, 2022 YouTube Video
Black Magic BZRK VOODOO Fall 2022: GRIM AETHER Flavor!
Nov 01, 2022 YouTube Video
STRAWBERRY COLADA Pumps! CORE PUMP & Colada Etymology
Oct 31, 2022 YouTube Video
Arms Race CLARITY: Upgraded Nootropic Energy (137.5mg Caffeine)
Oct 24, 2022 Product News
EVLution Nutrition Alpha GPC was created.
Sep 24, 2022 Product News
Nature's Plus Egg Yolk Lecithin has new variations: Choline
Jun 18, 2022 Product News
KAL Choline Inositol was created.
Categories: Choline, Inositol
Jun 18, 2022 Product News
KAL Choline was created.
Apr 30, 2021 Blog Post
A Better Choline Supplement: 5% Core Nootropic Brings Long-Lasting Focus and Clarity
5% Nutrition's Core Nootropic isn't just a choline supplement - it uses a blend of two choline sources alongside acetylcholine-keeper, Huperzine A!
Apr 27, 2021 YouTube Video
Can We Build a Better Nootropic COFFEE CREAMER? Formulator's Corner #01
Apr 25, 2021 YouTube Video
Take COMMAND: Myprotein Command Nootropic Review (Gaming Supplement)
Apr 22, 2021 Blog Post
5% Nutrition Core Line Goes Beyond Single-Ingredient Supplements
The 5% Nutrition Core Supplement Line has many classic supplements, but with twists! No single-ingredient formulas here, just like Rich Piana would want!
Feb 28, 2021 Blog Post
Shawn Wells Talks Energy-Boosting Supplements on Ben Greenfield’s Podcast
Shawn Wells and Ben Greenfield discuss the future of mitochondrial health and supplementation on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast - great info here!
Feb 18, 2021 YouTube Video
Glaxon Thermal V2 Update | Glaxon Season 2
Jan 26, 2021 YouTube Video
Low-Caffeine Pre Workout for All Your Needs | Get RAW Nutrition Pre
Dec 04, 2020 YouTube Video
What They Won't Tell You | Cellucor C4 Smart Energy Review
Sep 27, 2020 YouTube Video
PEScience ALPHAMINE Review: 2020 New Formula!
Sep 05, 2020 YouTube Video
Facelift for ANIMAL? | ANIMAL PUMP PRO Review
Sep 02, 2020 YouTube Video
Ben Can't Handle The Sour! Ghost Energy Drink WARHEADS SOUR WATERMELON
Sep 01, 2020 YouTube Video
ENERGY DRINK GAME CHANGER | Ghost Energy Tropical Mango Review
Jul 21, 2020 YouTube Video
Nutrex Outlift Amped Pre Workout Review: New Look, Same High Stim Formula!
Feb 17, 2020 Blog Post
Cholinace From Glaxon: Three Sources of Choline For a Maximum Neurological Boost
Glaxon is known for unique formulas and ingredients. In this post, we take closer look at Cholinace, a blend of 3 choline sources for added benefits!
Dec 30, 2019 Blog Post
NutraBio Knocks Out the Decade with New York Punch Alpha EAA!
NutraBio closes the decade in style, taking the best new supplement of the year and adding the best new flavor of the year: New York Punch Alpha EAA!
Aug 27, 2019 YouTube Video
Nootropics for a Competitor: Brandon DaCruz Focuses While Dieting
Aug 19, 2019 YouTube Video
CEO Level Nootropic | Cutler Cognition Review
Jun 07, 2019 Blog Post
NutraBio Alpha EAA Now in Grape Berry Crush
The best-feeling intra workout supplement on the market, NutraBio Alpha EAA, is now available in the instant-legendary flavor, Grape Berry Crush!
May 09, 2019 Blog Post
NutraBio Choline Bitartrate: Powered by VitaCholine
NutraBio Choline Bitartrate contains 1341mg VitaCholine yielding 550mg Choline in every two capsule serving. Come get your cognitive focus at a value!
Mar 23, 2019 YouTube Video
NutraBio Alpha EAA Strawberry Lemon BOMB!
Feb 15, 2019 YouTube Video
NutraBio Alpha EAA: Essential Amino Acids + Nootropics!
Feb 15, 2019 Blog Post
NutraBio Alpha EAA: Nootropic-Powered Amino Workout Supplement
NutraBio Alpha EAA is an intra workout essential amino acid supplement with added nootropics and adaptogens for a performance and cognitive boost!
Jan 31, 2019 Blog Post
NutraBio Alpha-GPC Puts Focus and Strength in One Capsule
NutraBio Alpha-GPC contains 300mg ACTIVE Alpha-GPC in each capsule for increased strength and nootropic focus. It uses calcium phosphate as a carrier.
Dec 04, 2018 YouTube Video
Primeval Labs Mega Pre BLACK Review
Nov 30, 2018 YouTube Video
BEST Nootropic Energy Drink | SNS Focus XT Review
Sep 10, 2018 YouTube Video
VMI Sports K-XR Pre Workout Flavor Review (Geographical Flavors?!)
Aug 14, 2018 YouTube Video
Best Nootropic Stack for Beginners: Expert Shawn Wells Weighs In
Aug 13, 2018 Blog Post
The Best Nootropic Stack for Beginners (Expert Shawn Wells)
What's the best nootropic stack for beginners? According to expert formulator Shawn Wells, there's four stimulant-free nootropics you can start with!
Mar 14, 2018 YouTube Video
Sparta Nutrition CogniKeto Review: Nootropic for Keto Dieters!
Feb 19, 2018 Blog Post
DMAE: The Lesser-Known Choline
DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol) is a nootropic related to choline that may improve focus, mental clarity, and potentially memory. Question is, what dose?
Feb 12, 2018 Blog Post
NutraBio PRE: Our Top-Rated Pre Workout Supplement
NutraBio's PRE Workout, named PRE, was recently upgraded, and now more than ever it's our #1 pre workout with no 'exotic' stimulants and no carbs!
Oct 15, 2017 Blog Post
Keto Connect Podcast with Mike: Supplements for Keto | Episode #004
Need guidance about supplements for keto dieters? Check out Mike's 2017 Keto Connect podcast interview on "Keto for Normies" with Matt & Megha!
Oct 09, 2017 Blog Post
Optimizing Brain Performance with Shawn Wells | Episode #002
PricePlow's second podcast was one of the best we'll have, where Shawn Wells (ZoneHalo) discussed optimizing brain performance, including nootropics
Oct 09, 2017 YouTube Video
Optimizing Brain Performance with Shawn Wells | Podcast #2
Oct 06, 2017 Blog Post
Northbound’s All-Natural Blend: A Stevia-Sweetened Nootropic
Stevia-based nootropic powder! Northbound Nutrition has released a new naturally-flavored / sweetened tub of their popular nootropic supplement BLEND
Sep 29, 2017 Blog Post
Choline Supplements: What’s the Best Form for Focus?
Choline is an essential nutrient that provides the backbone of the learning neurotransmitter acetylcholine; learn which form is best for your needs.
Feb 07, 2017 Blog Post
Blackstone Labs Hype Extreme: Long-Lasting Pumps & Focus
Hype Extreme is a brand new stimulant free pre workout from Blackstone labs that significantly enhances pumps and focus.
Sep 06, 2016 Blog Post
Northbound Nutrition BLEND – Cognitive Energy & Endurance
Blend from Northbound Nutrition is a clinically dosed cognition enhancing supplement perfect for work or working out. Maybe even a gaming supplement!
Jan 06, 2016 Blog Post
Alpha GPC for Strength CONFIRMED: 600mg/day for Legs!
Alpha-GPC for strength CONFIRMED! A new study found that 600mg daily of Alpha GPC significantly improves leg strength, and possibly more!
Nov 04, 2015 Blog Post
Best Sleep Aid Guide: Supplements, Ingredients, & Herbs
What's the Best Sleep Aid? It depends if you want a full-blown sleep aid supplement, or just a single-ingredient herb or compound. We cover it all!
Mar 31, 2015 Blog Post
Altius Pre-Workout by Jacked Factory: Go Strong All Day Long
The Altius Pre Workout by Jacked Factory is an Amazon product that is absolutely LOADED and has tons of great reviews. We analyze the ingredients.
Sign up for future Choline news!
Click the button below to sign up for future Choline news, deals, coupons, and reviews!
Choline Reviews & Videos
Jan 19, 2023Kaged Mindset Unboxing: Find your FLOW
Dec 24, 2022NEW CORE FURY V2 | Core Nutritionals Pre-Workout
Feb 18, 2021Glaxon Thermal V2 Update | Glaxon Season 2
Sep 27, 2020PEScience ALPHAMINE Review: 2020 New Formula!
Sep 05, 2020Facelift for ANIMAL? | ANIMAL PUMP PRO Review
Aug 19, 2019CEO Level Nootropic | Cutler Cognition Review
Mar 23, 2019NutraBio Alpha EAA Strawberry Lemon BOMB!
Dec 04, 2018Primeval Labs Mega Pre BLACK Review
Subscribe for more Choline news and alerts!