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Cholines: Essential Nutrients that Boost Your Mental Focus

Cholines are a type of nootropic supplement that can help you build a stronger brain.

They’re a class of essential nutrients that your brain uses to create important brain chemicals, protect your brain cells from damage, and enhance your focus and memory.

There are several types of cholines. Here’s a look at three of the most effective ones and how you can use them to improve your brain function.

What Are Cholines?

Choline is an essential nutrient that you get from your diet. You’ll find it in beef (especially liver), eggs, chicken, fish, and nuts.

Choline is important for:[1]https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/[2]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7400816/

  • Brain cell integrity
  • Learning
  • Memory (especially as you age)
  • Mental focus
  • Muscle strength and force production
  • Liver function, especially to reduce risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

About 90% of Americans are deficient in choline,[3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566660/ meaning they don’t get enough from diet alone. A choline supplement is a valuable way to give your brain the raw materials it needs to function better.

The 3 Best Types of Choline Supplements

There are several different forms of choline and each one comes with unique benefits. These are the three most effective types of choline supplements.

1. Citicoline for Focus and Memory

Citicoline (also called CDP-choline) is a special form of choline that your brain produces naturally.

You convert citicoline to phosphatidylcholine, a fatty compound that insulates your brain cells, protecting them from damage and speeding up the rate at which they send information across your brain[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6120106/.

Two studies on 135 healthy adults found that taking 250-500 mg of citicoline enhanced focus, attention, and mental clarity[5]https://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?paperID=19921[6]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26179181/.

In another study, 2817 adults with memory problems took a daily citicoline supplement. Citicoline reversed memory deficits completely in 21% of people and significantly improved memory in another 45%. [7]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6684470/

Finally, patients with mild cognitive impairment saw improved memory and reaction time after taking 1,000 mg of citicoline daily.[8]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3569046/

There’s an extra benefit to citicoline that other cholines don’t have. Citicoline is also a source of cytidine, which you convert to uridine, another cognitive enhancer.

In other words, by taking citicoline, you’re getting two nootropics in one.

Citicoline dosage: 250-500mg per day, taken with or without food

Take this quiz to find out if citicoline is included in your ideal supplement formula.

2. Alpha-GPC for Physical Performance

Alpha-GPC is another form of choline that your brain produces naturally. It’s a precursor to acetylcholine, a brain chemical that influences your muscle function, as well as your memory and stress response.

A 2015 study found that healthy adults who took alpha-GPC daily saw a significant increase in muscle strength after 6 days.[9]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4650143/

Another study found that alpha-GPC increased growth hormone secretion and fat oxidation in healthy young adults.[10]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22673596/ Human growth hormone (HGH) helps with both muscle building and fat loss, which means alpha-GPC could be a valuable supplement if you want to get into better shape.

Alpha-GPC dosage: 250-500mg per day, taken with or without food

3. Choline L-Bitartrate for Nutritional Balance

Choline L-bitartrate is the most basic and bioavailable form of choline. It doesn’t provide any particular mental or nootropic benefits, but it’s about 40% choline by weight, making it one of the most choline-rich supplements available. The rest is tartaric acid, which helps your body absorb the choline better.

However, choline L-bitartrate doesn’t reach your brain as easily as other forms of choline do. As a result, it isn’t a top choice for cognitive enhancement.

If you’re deficient in choline and want to increase your choline levels, bitartrate is the best option. It’s a valuable supplement, and many people take it alongside citicoline or alpha-GPC, which are better for cognitive and physical enhancement, respectively.

Choline L-bitartrate dosage: 500 mg per day, taken with or without food

Side Effects of Cholines

Choline supplements have no major side effects and no known drug interactions, and are generally considered low-risk supplements to take.[11]https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/

That said, this article is not offering health advice, and you should always talk to a doctor before adding a new supplement to your routine.

Final Thoughts

Cholines are powerful supplements that give your brain the materials it needs to function more efficiently.

To increase your body’s choline levels and meet your daily recommended intake, choline L-bitartrate is a strong choice.

For physical performance, alpha-GPC is the best option.

And for cognitive enhancement, citicoline is the superior choline supplement (you can also take a nootropic quiz to find a personalized nootropic stack that suits your unique needs).

If you’re interested in physical or cognitive enhancement, choline is a worthwhile supplement to try. You can pick from the forms and recommended dosage ranges above and see how you feel.

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