Alpha GPC, or Alpha-glycerophosphocholine, is a cholinergic compound found naturally in the brain. Supplements containing this compound has been shown to promote increased cognitive function, support cellular membranes, and boost athlete’s power output. This is done by the supplement, increasing a chemical in the brain called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is essential for learning functions of the brain and memory. The supplement also holds promise in being a beneficial ergogenic, or wakefulness supplement, but more research is needed in this area.
In the early 1990s, Alpha GPC was used in an Italian clinical trial to test its effectiveness in treating the cognitive decline experienced in individuals who had recently suffered a stroke. They treated 2,044 patients who had recently suffered a stroke with the supplement at 1,000 mg a day for 28 days and then 400 mg three times a day for the following five months. The ensuing evidence pointed to the supplement helping to improve performance on psychometric tests and improve the functionality of neuronal membranes.
Small scale studies on the effect the supplement has on physical performance have been done as well. These studies point to the possibility that the supplement increases the maximum power and velocity of an individual’s physical abilities.
There are documented benefits of Alpha GPC, and while more research is needed to accurately prove all the benefits, the current research is promising. The potential benefits of this supplement include:
- Improvement in cognitive skills in Alzheimer’s and other related dementias suffers after three to six months of treatment.
- Improve the rate of recovery for individuals that have suffered a stroke if treatment is given within ten days after the stroke.
- Enhancing memory
- Support of cognitive function and abilities in the elderly
- Increased cell growth, reproduction, and repair
- Improve and support recovery from brain injuries
- Decreased anxiety
- Increased power output in athletic performances
- Increase the amount of fat burned
- Increased iron absorption
Alpha GPC was determined by the FDA to be mostly safe when no more than 162.2 mg is consumed daily. Possible common side effects of the supplement include headaches, dizziness, skin rash, heartburn, confusion, insomnia, fatigue, nervousness, gastrointestinal distress, and diarrhea. These side effects are more prevalent at higher dosages.
It is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before taking the supplement, especially if an individual is prone to hypotension.
It is not recommended to be taken while pregnant or breastfeeding due to the lack of research data available.
The supplement possibly interacts with the medication Scopolamine, or Transderm Scop. Scopolamine blocks the chemical acetylcholine that the supplement increases. It is not known whether this interaction prompts a decrease in the effectiveness of Scopolamine. Still, it is recommended to speak to a healthcare provider beforehand out of an abundance of caution.
A recommended dosage of Alpha GPC depends on the health, age, and sex of the individual taking it, and there is not enough scientific research to back up a general range of a dose. If the supplement is being taken at the suggestion of a healthcare provider, they can prescribe a recommended amount that would be right for the individual.
It is always best when trying out a new supplement to start with the lowest recommended dose, and standard dosing on the supplement’s label recommends 300 mg to 600 mg daily. If an individual is taking the supplement for increased power output during athletic performances, a 600 mg dose once a day is standard. In individuals wanting to support cognitive functions, a total daily dose of 1,200 mg divided over three smaller doses of 400 mg each is recommended.
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Overall, Alpha GPC is a generally safe supplement used to support and improve cognitive function and athletic power. With minimal side effects and adverse drug interactions, this supplement shows promise for the treatment of cognitive decline in individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s and related dementias.