Uridine Monophosphate and the Brain: Benefits & How to Use It

Uridine-5’-monophosphate is a natural compound and supplement that may support cognition, synaptic connections between neurons, sleep, dopamine functioning, and more.

In this article, you’ll learn all about uridine monophosphate, including the science, possible benefits, how to take it, safety, and side effects.

What Is Uridine-5’-Monophosphate?

Uridine is a compound that is essential for the creation of RNA, glycogen (the storage form of glucose, a simple sugar), and cellular membranes.[1]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21689643/ In humans, uridine circulates in the bloodstream because your liver produces it, and it’s also released during the normal breakdown of RNA and cells, including from fat cells during fasting.[2]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28302796/

Because it can cross the blood-brain barrier, newly created or recycled uridine seems to be involved in several important processes in the brain and nervous system, including maintaining the fatty membranes of cells in the nervous system and creating connections between neurons.[3]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16769123/ It also appears to bind to receptors in the brain called P2Y2, P2Y4, P2Y6, and P2Y14, and may bind to other receptors that aren’t yet described.[4]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21401495/

Although researchers consider uridine a promising compound for investigation, there is currently a lack of data regarding its metabolism and precise role in the brain, and a limited number of human clinical trials examining its effects.[5]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21401495/

Benefits and Properties of Uridine Monophosphate

  • Cognitive function and brain synapses
  • Sleep support
  • Dopamine functioning
  • Mental health
  • Possible cardiovascular protection

Uridine May Support Cognitive Function and Brain Synapse Formation

Your body needs uridine to produce components in cell membranes that are required for synapses (connections between neurons) to form.[6]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062998/

Some researchers think that consuming uridine could support cognition and brain function, especially in conditions associated with reduced synaptic connections or problems with cell membranes, including Alzheimer’s disease and bipolar disorder.[7]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062998/

According to a 2011 scientific review published in Nutrition Reviews, animal and human studies suggest that uridine may support connections between neurons in the brain and nervous system.[8]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062998/

In a small, 2011 placebo-controlled trial, subjects who received 1 gram of uridine twice daily for a week had higher levels of brain phospholipids (fatty phosphate-containing substances that protect cells and play important roles in cell membranes and cellular functioning) than the placebo group.[9]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020593/

Evidence also suggests that taking uridine monophosphate together with other cell membrane components, particularly choline and the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may be especially beneficial in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.[10]https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4011061/

Uridine May Support Sleep

Your cells naturally release uridine as part of their life cycle. As it circulates and crosses the blood-brain barrier, uridine reaches binding sites in areas of the brain that regulate natural sleep.[11]https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/24/3/251/2749986 Some researchers speculate that similar to adenosine, uridine may help initiate sleep by binding to receptors in the brain and central nervous system.[12]https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/24/3/251/2749986

An older study from 1984 found that in rats infused with uridine shortly before the dark period, it increased slow-wave sleep by 21% and REM sleep by 68.1% over baseline values.[13]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6549543/

A 2019 study found that rats treated with uridine had enhanced learning and memory when deprived of REM sleep compared to rats that did not, and that uridine prevented the loss of learning and memory from REM sleep deprivation.[14]https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168010218306552

Uridine May Support Dopamine Functioning

Early, limited animal evidence suggests uridine may support dopamine functioning in the brain and nervous system, but has not yet been replicated in human clinical trials.†

According to a 2005 study, uridine monophosphate was found to increase the outgrowth of neurites (axons and dendrites) that allow neurons to transmit and receive signals) and increase the dopamine release caused by potassium in rats.[15]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16055952/

An older study from 1993 also found that uridine appeared to restore or normalize normal dopamine function in rats given cocaine or amphetamine.[16]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8372096/

Uridine May Have Mental Health Benefits

In bipolar disorder and other disorders that affect mental health, the metabolism of phospholipids in the brain may be altered.[17]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21176029/ Because uridine appears to support the synthesis of brain phospholipids, some researchers believe that it could be a promising candidate for people with bipolar disorder, depression, or other mental health problems.[18]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21176029/

In a small, open-label (non-blinded) study of seven depressed adolescents diagnosed with bipolar disorder, two daily doses of 500 mg of uridine for six weeks reduced a measure of depression by 54% compared with baseline study scores.[19] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3080753/

Uridine May Protect the Heart

According to preliminary evidence from animal studies, uridine may play a natural role in protecting the heart during myocardial ischemia (obstruction due to partial or complete blockage, usually caused by plaque buildup or a blood clot).[20]http://europepmc.org/article/MED/8133125

In experiments on rats, administering uridine monophosphate has been shown to reduce ischemic heart injury (heart damage caused by inadequate blood supply).[21]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18457027/

How to Take Uridine Monophosphate

Most studies of uridine monophosphate use a total daily dose of 1-2 grams taken in divided doses of 500-1,000 milligrams twice daily. If you’ve never taken uridine supplements before, you can start with 250-500 milligrams per day taken in one or two doses, then increase as needed.

You can take uridine monophosphate with or without food. Studies of uridine in humans generally don’t specify whether or not to take it on an empty stomach. Because it’s water soluble, it’s likely to absorb either way.[22]https://foodb.ca/compounds/FDB031248

If you experience any digestive discomfort when taking uridine on an empty stomach, taking it with food instead may help.

For some purposes, research studies have shown uridine may work better when taken alongside other supplements:

You can take uridine monophosphate any time of day. If you’re using it to support slow-wave sleep and REM sleep, try taking it one hour before you go to bed.†

Is Uridine Safe?

From current human trials, uridine appears to be relatively safe, with few or no adverse events reported in most trials.[25]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020593/[26]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3080753/

However, some evidence does suggest that uridine may be associated with insulin resistance. For example, in patients with type 2 diabetes, elevated uridine levels are associated with higher insulin levels and increased HOMA-IR scores (a measure of insulin resistance).[27]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20544544

Studies in rodents have demonstrated temporary impairment of glucose tolerance following uridine administration.[28]https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0099728 A 2016 study also found that when mice were given high doses of 400 milligrams per kilogram of uridine (equivalent to a human dose of 54 mg/kg, or 4,320 mg per day for an 80 kg person) for 16 weeks, it appeared to cause systemic glucose intolerance and fatty liver. [29]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26789264/[30]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4804402/

If you’ve got diabetes or insulin resistance, or if you take insulin or other diabetes medications, ask your doctor before taking uridine as it may affect your condition or change the effectiveness of prescription drugs.†

Uridine monophosphate may also interact with other drugs including medications prescribed for ADHD or chemotherapy drugs like fluorouracil (5-fluorouracil).†

As a general safety precaution, anyone with a known medical condition or who takes prescription medication should always ask their physician before starting a new supplement.

Anecdotally, some users of uridine supplements have reported becoming sleepy or drowsy shortly after taking it. To be on the safe side, don’t drive a vehicle or operate heavy machinery after taking uridine until you know how your body responds.

Finally, some researchers speculate that because uridine levels are increased during fasting, it may play a role in appetite signaling.[31]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28302796/ If you experience increased hunger when taking uridine on an empty stomach, you can try taking it with a meal or after eating instead.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Uridine Monophosphate

Is Uridine a Nootropic?

Studies show that uridine is required to maintain cell membranes in nerves and for your body to form connections between neurons (synapses)[32]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062998/.† While it’s possible that uridine monophosphate has nootropic (cognitive-enhancing) properties, human trials have not yet confirmed this definitively.[33]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062998/

What Causes Uridine Deficiency?

Most people aren’t deficient in uridine, but research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, and other problems in the brain are associated with lower uridine levels.† The most likely causes include decreased uridine synthesis in the liver and brain deficiencies caused by the diseases.[34]https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4011061

What Foods are High in Uridine?

Foods that are naturally high in uridine include dill, towel gourd, pineapple sage, arrowroot, and beer[35]https://foodb.ca/compounds/FDB031248. A pint of beer could have around 24 milligrams of uridine.[36]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12370853/ Most evidence suggests it’s possible to absorb uridine from your diet, although amounts in food are much lower than uridine supplements.

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