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Alpha-GPC

Alpha-glycerophosphocholine (alpha-GPC or α-GPC) is a cholinergic compound that is used for cognitive-enhancement, and to increase power output in athletes. It appears to also support cellular membranes, and may help prevent cognitive decline.

Our evidence-based analysis on alpha-gpc features 74 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Summary of Alpha-GPC

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

What is alpha-GPC?

Alpha-GPC (alpha-glycerophosphocholine or choline alphoscerate) is a choline-containing phospholipid. When ingested, alpha-GPC is metabolized into choline and glycerol-1-phosphate. Choline is a precursor of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory, attention, and skeletal muscle contraction. Glycerol-1-phosphate is used to support cellular membranes.[1]

Alpha-GPC appears to easily cross the blood-brain barrier and is rapidly absorbed. It is currently the best cholinergic for increasing plasma and brain choline levels.[2]

What are alpha-GPC's main benefits?

Oral supplementation of alpha-GPC is primarily of interest for nootropic or cognitive-enhancement purposes. There are a number of rodent studies that support this effect, but it has yet to be shown in otherwise healthy humans. In older adults with mild to moderate dementia — which involves disrupted cholinergic neurotransmission — alpha-GPC improves cognitive symptoms (e.g., memory and attention impairment).[3][1] Alpha-GPC may also improve the effectiveness of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (i.e., drugs that increase acetylcholine availability by slowing down its breakdown), which are used for treating Alzheimer’s disease.[3]

Athletes are another population that may benefit from alpha-GPC supplementation. Preliminary evidence suggests that alpha-GPC increases vertical jump power.[4][5] Additionally, a pilot study reported that alpha-GPC increased peak bench press force, but not peak power or rate of force development.[5] Whether alpha-GPC increases isometric strength is currently unclear.[5][7]

What are alpha-GPC's main drawbacks?

Alpha-GPC is generally well tolerated. Serious side effects have not been reported in human trials at a dosage of 1,200 mg per day for six months.[8] The No Observed Adverse Effect Level is 150 mg per kg of body weight per day.

Recently, concerns have been raised about the potential of alpha-GPC to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) because it serves as a substrate for the synthesis of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) in the gut, and TMAO is associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes in people with CVD and in mechanistic studies.[9]

A 2021 cohort study of more than 12 million participants (at least 50 years old), including 108,877 alpha-GPC users, reported that alpha-GPC use for at least 12 months was associated with an increased risk of stroke over 10 years.[10] Moreover, a 2021 mouse study found that alpha-GPC supplementation promoted atherosclerosis.[11]

However, the currently available evidence is preliminary in nature, so randomized controlled trials and large cohort studies are needed to confirm these findings.

How is alpha-GPC taken?

For attenuating symptoms of cognitive decline, almost all studies used a dosage of 1,200 mg per day, divided into three doses of 400 mg.

For boosting power output, studies have used a dosage of 300–600 mg, supplemented 30–60 minutes prior to exercise.

How does alpha-GPC work?

Mechanistic evidence suggests that alpha-GPC exerts its effects by increasing the synthesis and release of acetylcholine in the brain, where it is involved in memory, motivation, arousal, and attention.[12][13][14][15]

Acetylcholine is also responsible for the action potential that stimulates muscles to contract. Therefore, it’s theorized that increased acetylcholine levels lead to a stronger signal for muscle contraction and, consequently, increased force production.

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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Alpha-GPC has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

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Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-c Notable - See study
The rate of cognitive decline of either degenerative or vascular origin appears to be significantly reduced with Alpha-GPC supplementation
grade-c Notable - See study
The lone pilot study noted a 14% increase in power output as assessed by bench throws, requires replication but seems stronger than caffeine based on this study.
grade-c Notable - See study
At least among nutraceuticals, Alpha-GPC appears to significantly improve cognition in persons with Alzheimer's disease at the dose of 1,200mg when taken as a daily supplement over a prolonged period of time.
grade-c Minor - See study
Some biomarkers of hepatic fat oxidation increased at rest, no indication as to the potency of this relative to reference drugs.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Has noted an increase in circulating growth hormone, but measurements were acute (whole-day measurements of growth hormone are more reliable due to hourly fluctuations)
grade-d Minor Moderate See 2 studies
It is possible that Alpha-GPC increases iron absorption from non-meat sources (nonheme iron), but the evidence is currently mixed and a very low dose of 46mg may be required (which would render supplementation irrelevant).

Studies Excluded from Consideration

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Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Other Functions:

Also Known As

Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, L-alpha-glycerophosphocholin, glycerophosphocholine, L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine, Choline Alphoscerate

Do Not Confuse With

Choline, DMAE, CDP-choline

Goes Well With

  • Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (for any choline-related property, such as attenuating symptoms of Alzheimer's)

  • Although traditionally known as being nonstimulatory, some persons do report cognitive stimulation with supplemental alpha-GPC.

  • It may be prudent to take alpha-GPC alongside dietary fatty acids for absorption (due to it being a phospholipid), although this does not appear to be an absolute requirement.

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Click here to see all 74 references.