When it comes to improving one’s cognitive abilities, there are a number of supplements that help. Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, methylated B vitamins, amino acids, herbal supplements, caffeine, and CoQ10 are just a few of the many supplements you can use to improve your cognitive health and performance.
However, there’s one group of supplements that gets very little attention but has enormous potential for improving your brain function, i.e., choline. By the end of this article, you will better understand what choline is, its benefits, sources, forms, and the best choline supplements.
To give you all the information fast, the best choline supplements include alpha GPC, citicoline, and uridine and are all contained in their purest forms in a generous proportion in Maximum Mind. Read on to learn more about these supplements.
When you peruse the shelves, you’ll find a wide variety of nootropics or brain supplements. One of the most effective nootropics for health, memory, and mental clarity is here for your learning.
Let us have a look at choline!
“It’s Hard to Beat a Person Who Never Gives Up.”
– Babe Ruth
What Are Nootropics?
“The only difference between the master and the novice is that the master has failed more times than the novice has tried.”
First things first, what are nootropics? Corneliu Giurgea, a Romanian neuroscientist, coined the term nootropic (pronounced new-tropic) in 1972. He believed that smart drugs should be invented and made widely available for the purpose of enhancing the general population’s brain health and increasing human intelligence.
According to Dr Giurgea’s findings, nootropics enhance cognition, memory, alertness, concentration, creativity, and attention. They became known as cognitive enhancers, substances that amplify the way the brain’s many cognitive functions operate and how we process information.
Simply put, cognitive enhancers (or nootropics or smart drugs) are prescription or off-the-counter drugs or supplements that enhance cognition. Some nootropics contribute to brain health while others can be quite dangerous.
Since Marco’s Grounds only works with safe and natural compounds in their purest forms, for most of our discussions we will restrain ourselves to natural nootropics that increase cognition safely.
What Is Choline?
“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Choline, a vital nutrient, hasn’t been on the radar of most people, but it needs to be. A study in Central Nervous System Agents in Medicinal Chemistry inferred that despite the fact that it’s frequently included alongside B vitamins, the macronutrient choline isn’t classified as one .
You need choline to work correctly in your liver, muscles, and brain due to the fact that it is the precursor for two crucial compounds:
Acetylcholine (ACh): A study found in Sinauer Associates shows that acetylcholine is the major neurotransmitter at neuromuscular junctions and a crucial neurotransmitter for brain-to-neuron transmission .
Phosphatidylcholine (PC): Another study in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta – Biomembranes concludes that phosphatidylcholine accumulates choline for the production of acetylcholine as one of the cell membrane’s most abundant phospholipids .
Additionally, choline has an important role in maintaining cognitive function, notably learning and memory; attention; focus; cognitive regeneration; and physical performance, among other things.
Benefits of Choline
“Your passion is waiting for your courage to catch up.”
– Isabelle Lafleche
One of the most compelling arguments in favor of choline and search for the best choline supplements may be made when it comes to brain health. Although it’s one of the most potent nootropics available, it also has several additional advantages.
Learning and Memory
Acetylcholine is an essential brain protein that transfers impulses between brain cells. This makes it a crucial neurotransmitter for memory and learning. An increased amount of acetylcholine has been shown to help with concentration, memory, processing speed, and mental clarity.
Memory functions including working memory, long-term memory, new memories, and retrieval are supported and modulated by acetylcholine release.
As a result, cholinergic activity in certain brain regions linked with memory retention and consolidation—the amygdala and the cerebral cortex—is necessary for these memory processes to take place according to two pieces of research found in Behavioural Brain Research and Journal of Physiology [4, 5].
Even though Alzheimer’s disease has yet to be fully understood, it has been shown in Current Neuropharmacology research that deficiencies in cholinergic function are linked to age-related memory loss, which is caused by the death of cholinergic neurons (nerve cells that produce and release acetylcholine) .
Because of its function in facilitating synaptic plasticity, acetylcholine is also critical for creating memories and consolidating those memories.
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease may be linked to anomalies in choline availability and acetylcholine synthesis, according to research in PLOS One .
There’s an added bonus: Having more choline in your brain reduces inflammation, which improves memory, learning, and focus.
A large body of data shows that the cholinergic system plays a significant role in mood regulation; both hyper- and hypo-cholinergic states appear to promote depression and mania, respectively, as speculated in research in Basic Neurochemistry .
Brain and Nervous System Function
According to Nutrition Today, choline is crucial for developing the brain and nervous system in adults and children. The hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory and learning, is particularly sensitive to changes in choline levels during pregnancy and must be supplemented by pregnant women to ensure a healthy fetus .
It’s also one of the few parts of the brain where nerve cells continue to grow throughout life. The developing brains of fetuses and infants can be permanently altered by maternal choline levels, whether they are high or low.
On the other hand, adults also need choline to maintain the correct functioning of every cell in their bodies. All cells in the body rely on choline for structural integrity and signaling activities. Still, it also plays an important part in neurotransmissions—the mechanism cells use to communicate—and lipid transport to the liver, according to the same article in Nutrition Today .
However, it is critical to remember that the neurons that govern and control respiration, heart rate, and skeletal muscle movements require just a minimal quantity of dietary choline to be converted into acetylcholine. This is why choline supplementation is so important and why we’re discussing the best choline supplements.
Choline is required for muscular activity since acetylcholine is a necessary component. However, acetylcholine is best known for its chief role at the neuromuscular junction as a primary neurotransmitter as seen in Physiology, Acetylcholine studies .
For muscles to contract, motor neurons synapse with these muscles at this junction.
It may seem a little off-topic given the benefits choline has for the brain, but choline is needed to help your body utilize fat through its role in transportation. Research in the Annual Review of Nutrition draws a conclusion that phosphatidylcholine is an essential part of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), which functions to transport fats out of your liver .
Without sufficient amounts of choline, phosphatidylcholine levels are subpar, and the exportation of excess triglyceride from the liver in lipoproteins is limited. As such, you have lower energy reserves, poor nutrient absorption (of fat-soluble vitamins), and a lack of substrates available to synthesize brain components like myelin.
Best Choline Supplements
“If something is important enough, even if the odds are stacked against you, you should still do it.”
– Elon Musk
In the liver, humans naturally create phosphatidylcholine, the primary form of choline, but this is insufficient to fulfill human needs.
Because of this, some of the best choline supplements or a diet high in nutrients are necessary for optimal health. The following are some of the best choline sources that are not supplements (from the most concentrated to the least):
- Beef liver
- Eggs (yolks)
- Red potatoes
- Kidney beans
- Brussels sprouts
Vegans and vegetarians must take a high-quality choline supplement because many of the essential sources of choline originate from animal foods.
Further, concentrations of choline vary with the quality of the food being consumed and individual absorption rates, hence why it is important to supplement choline to achieve a greater state of mental performance and health.
Alpha Glycerophosphocholine (also known as alpha GPC) is a choline-containing supplement present in a wide range of foods that are also high in choline but appear to be active at larger dosages in terms of pharmacological activity.
Alpha GPC’s ability to boost the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and improve concentration, learning, and memory while being a choline prodrug makes it an excellent nootropic for focus and concentration.
There is a lot of alpha GPC on the market since it is the most efficient oral transportation for nutrients (able to influence both systemic and brain concentrations of choline). Alpha GPC and CDP choline have been shown to be both useful in improving cognitive health. However, one would wonder which one to take. Alpha GPC appears to help cell membrane development in a way that is unusual for this class of supplements (only CDP choline is associated with lipid membranes in this sense).
For these reasons, alpha GPC is one of the best choline supplements to incorporate into your supplementation strategy.
Note: there’s an effective dose of alpha GPC at 99% purity in each dose of Maximum Mind.
Read more about alpha GPC on the Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive or dig deeper into the benefits of alpha GPC here.
Uridine monophosphate is synthesized in the liver and subsequently transported to circulation. Numerous foods include dietary uridine. However, because most uridine obtained from food is absorbed during the digestive process, many of its specific actions and advantages, particularly those associated with cognition and brain health, may require supplementation.
Uridine has some remarkable benefits, such that its supplements have been demonstrated to penetrate the blood-brain barrier relatively easily. Uridine is then converted to CDP choline in the brain. Choline, phosphatidylcholine, and acetylcholine are all synthesized from CDP. These neurotransmitters are required to enhance concentration, motor speed, and other cognitive activities.
The more uridine in the brain, the more CDP choline is synthesized, which protects and strengthens developing synapses and aids in their growth.
For this reason, uridine is one of the best choline supplements available.
Note: there’s an effective dose of uridine at 99% purity in each dose of Maximum Mind.
Read more about uridine on the Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive or dig deeper into the benefits of uridine here.
Choline Deficiency: Is It a Real Issue?
“People who wonder if the glass is half empty or full miss the point. The glass is refillable.”
Choline deficiency is quite rare compared to other nutritional deficiencies. According to studies in the Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements Journal, choline levels seldom fall below 50% in persons who haven’t eaten in a week .
However, the definition of appropriate choline levels might be where the problem lies as there are real benefits to having higher doses of circulating choline as discussed earlier.
Choline shortage has been related to liver illness, atherosclerosis, and even brain diseases because of its function in human metabolism, from neurotransmitter production to cellular integrity, as speculated in Nutrition Reviews journal .
In research found in the journal: Nutrition Today, the development of fatty liver (hepatosteatosis)  is one of the first and most visible indications of choline shortage because phosphatidylcholine is a key component of very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), which carry triglycerides out of the liver.
Choline shortage can manifest in a variety of ways, the most prevalent of which are as follows:
- Persistent exhaustion or weariness
- Reduced capacity to reason or solve problems
- Acquiring new knowledge is difficult: Emotional fluctuations or mood problems are common.
- Memory lapses
- Aches in the muscles
- Pain or tingling in the nerves
Some groups are more vulnerable to choline insufficiency than others; pregnant women and those with choline, folate, or methionine metabolism abnormalities are two examples.
What Is the Best Form of Choline?
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
– Lou Holtz
There are a variety of choline supplements available, just as there are with other dietary supplements. Choline bitartrate and Cognizin® citicoline are two of the most popular options.
One of the most frequent types of choline utilized in nootropic supplements is choline bitartrate. In general, this form isn’t a terrible investment, but it comes at the expense of quality.
It contains roughly 41% choline by weight; however, it is one of the most inefficient forms of choline for passing the blood-brain barrier. It won’t function if it can’t get into the brain.
Choline bitartrate studies in humans are finite; however, in rodents, treatment with choline increased choline levels by 52% compared to the 14% rise seen in the control group who did not receive choline supplementation. Another rodent investigation indicated that choline bitartrate supplementation restored spatial memory and neuronal deficits in rats with traumatic brain injury.
Citicoline as Cognizin®
The citric acid (CDP choline), also known as citicoline, is the most potent choline supplement on the market. As a critical component of brain function, it is an essential intermediary for the production of phosphatidylcholine.
You can’t find a more potent version than this since it breaks down into two essential components when consumed:
Choline: Choline makes up 18% of the weight.
Cytidine: One of the most important nucleotides for synapse strength and brain connection.
When used together, these two ingredients provide a potent cognitive enhancer that goes above and beyond what can be achieved with a choline supplement alone.
If you’ve suffered a brain injury, you can utilize it to stabilize cell membranes and minimize free radicals that contribute to further damage. However, it may also be involved in the release of dopamine in the brain, as seen in the Clinical Interventions in Aging .
Here are the reasons why citicoline is the best option:
Boosts neurotransmitter synthesis: Improves acetylcholine production and may increase the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward.
Promotes the formation of new synapses: A study in Brain Sciences speculates that It contains a significant amount of neuroregeneration capacity and boosts brain protection and repair systems .
Increases ATP and phosphocreatine: As a result of supplementing with citicoline, there is a rise in energy reserves and the quantity of phospholipid membrane components needed to manufacture cell membranes and preserve their integrity and function presupposed by a study found in NMR in Biomedicine .
Citicoline, in a nutshell, is a cognitive enhancer. As a nootropic substance, it promotes attention and mental performance while also increasing memory and learning.
Aside from the fact that it is ultra-pure (99.9% plus pure citicoline), it is also recognized for its high quality and is of superior safety, absorption, and stability, all of which it possesses.
How Much CDP Choline to Take?
“The hard days are what make you stronger.”
– Aly Raisman
Knowing the best choline supplements is also noteworthy to understand how much you need to take to reap the full benefits?
The suggested dosage of CDP choline is 120 – 400mg divided into two doses of 8-12 hours apart, depending on what you’re attempting to accomplish [15, 17].
In this situation, higher doses won’t have additional advantages despite the belief that a larger amount might have greater benefits. Think about sun exposure. A precise dose is good, lower is not too good, and too much sun is very hurtful (sunburn).
Citicoline has been found to be safe for human intake in several clinical investigations, although, in rare situations, it can cause moderate digestive and nervous system difficulties.
“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
We have covered the best choline supplements in quite a comprehensive way, and It’s no secret that Maximum Mind is one of the best choline supplements with the most effective cognitive enhancers on the market as it combines uridine, alpha GPC, and citicoline for enhanced synergetic effects.
With 13 additional nootropics, Maximum Mind provides a comprehensive cognitive boost, especially for people whose active lifestyles necessitate a high level of dynamic brainpower.
Why not benefit from the best choline supplements in their purest form along with other clinically studied compounds for increasing brain performance and health with Maximum Mind?
- CB Hollenbeck. An introduction to the nutrition and metabolism of choline. Cent Nerv Syst Agents Med Chem. 2012;12(2):100-113.
- Purves D, Augustine GJ, Fitzpatrick D, et al., editors. Neuroscience. 2nd edition. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates; 2001. Acetylcholine.
- JN van der Veen, JP Kennelly, S Wan, JE Vance, DE Vance, RL Jacobs. The critical role of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine metabolism in health and disease. Biochim Biophys Acta Biomembr. 2017;1859(9 Pt B):1558-1572.
- J Micheau, A Marighetto. Acetylcholine and memory: a long, complex, and chaotic but still living relationship. Behav Brain Res. 2011;221(2):424-429.
- MG Blake, MC Krawczyk, CM Baratti, MM Boccia. Neuropharmacology of memory consolidation and reconsolidation: Insights on central cholinergic mechanisms. J Physiol Paris. 2014;108(4-6):286-291.
- TH Ferreira-Vieira, IM Guimaraes, FR Silva, FM Ribeiro. Alzheimer’s disease: Targeting the Cholinergic System. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2016;14(1):101-115.
- DP Lippelt, S van der Kint, K van Herk, M Naber. No Acute Effects of Choline Bitartrate Food Supplements on Memory in Healthy, Young, Human Adults. PLoS One. 2016;11(6):e0157714.
- JD Barchas, M Altemus. Acetylcholine Mechanisms Have Been Implicated in Mood Disorders. In: Siegel GJ, Agranoff BW, Albers RW, et al., editors. Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular, and Medical Aspects. 6th edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven; 1999.
- LM Sanders, SH Zeisel. Choline: Dietary Requirements and Role in Brain Development. Nutr Today. 2007;42(4):181-186.
- C Sam, B Bordoni. Physiology, Acetylcholine. [Updated 2021 Feb 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.
- SH Zeisel. Choline: critical role during fetal development and dietary requirements in adults. Annu Rev Nutr. 2006;26:229-250.
- SH Zeisel. Choline. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:136-43.
- SH Zeisel, KA da Costa. Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(11):615-623.
- M Fioravanti, AE Buckley. Citicoline (Cognizin) in the treatment of cognitive impairment. Clin Interv Aging. 2006;1(3):247-251.
- J Alvarez-Sabín, GC Román. The role of citicoline in neuroprotection and neuro repair in ischemic stroke. Brain Sci. 2013;3(3):1395-1414.
- MM Silveri, J Dikan, AJ Ross, et al. Citicoline enhances frontal lobe bioenergetics as measured by phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy. NMR Biomed. 2008;21(10):1066-1075.
- A Dávalos, J Alvarez-Sabín, J Castillo, et al. Citicoline in the treatment of acute ischaemic stroke: an international, randomized, multicentre, placebo-controlled study (ICTUS trial). Lancet. 2012;380(9839):349-357.