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CDP-choline (citicoline) is a nootropic compound that converts to both choline and cytidine upon ingestion, the latter of which converts into uridine in the body. It appears to confer cognitive-promoting properties as a prodrug for these two compounds.

Our evidence-based analysis on cdp-choline features 108 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of CDP-choline

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

CDP-choline is a nootropic compound that is essentially a prodrug for both choline and uridine, conferring both of those molecules to the body following oral ingestion of CDP-Choline. Specifically, the CDP-choline dissociates into choline and cytidine, with the cytidine then converting into uridine. CDP-choline is one of the three choline-containing phospholipids that can be orally supplemented (the other two being Alpha-GPC and phosphatidylcholine).

This supplement is catered towards preventing or treating memory impairments associated with aging due to the fact that both of the molecules it confers are neuroprotective and potentially enhance learning. While it appears to be more effective than phosphatidylcholine (PC) at this role, in part due to also increasing PC synthesis in the brain, its potency is somewhat comparable to that of Alpha-GPC.

CDP-choline has some other potential uses in relation to cognition. It is commonly used as a memory enhancer in youth, but despite some rodent studies suggesting that this is possible with oral CDP-choline, there are no human studies in youth at this point in time. One study has noted an increase in attention with low dose CDP-choline (which needs to be replicated), and CDP-choline may have roles as an anti-addictive compound against both cocaine and (preliminary evidence suggests) food as well.

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How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Standard dosing of CDP-choline is to take 500-2,000 mg in two divided doses (of 250-1,000 mg) usually separated by 8-12 hours, although a single daily dose is also sometimes used. A single dose of 4,000 mg does not appear to affect the blood any differently than 2,000 mg, and so it is not necessary to take such a high dose.

There are some properties, such as attention-promotion or improving bioenergetics, that seem to respond exclusively or more strongly to the lower dosage range. Other properties like appetite are the opposite, and thus the ideal dosage depends somewhat on the goal.

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Human Effect Matrix

Unlocked for Examine members

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

Full details are available to Examine members.
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.
grade-b Minor High See all 3 studies
CDP-Choline appears to be weakly anti-addictive against cocaine addiction, although the one study undertaken in persons with no intention to minimize cocaine usage can back negative.
grade-c Minor - See study
There appear to be attention promoting effects of CDP-Choline, with the one study in adult women noting that 250-500mg was effective but 250mg was more effective.
grade-c Minor - See study
One study in older adults noted, as a side-effect, that systolic blood pressure was slightly reduced
grade-c Minor - See study
The rate of memory decline seen in older persons during the aging process appears to be attenuated with supplementation of CDP-Choline
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Appears to promote cognition in otherwise healthy older adults. Although animal studies suggest this may apply to youthful subjects as well, no human currently exists for youth
grade-c - - See study
The lone study in persons with bipolar disorder was one investigating addiction, and when measuring symptoms of bipolar disorder they failed to find any influence of supplementation on symptoms.
grade-d Minor - See study
There appear to be minor appetite suppressing effects at higher doses of oral CDP-choline ingestion (2,000mg daily), although on a 1-10 point Likert scale the reduction measured at 27% (6.8 to 5.92; 1 being the lowest possible ranking)
grade-d Minor - See study
In persons with glaucoma, CDP-Choline ingestion appears to be somewhat protective of vision and has been noted to cause improvements in visual acuity
grade-d - - See study
Despite the improvements seen in visual acuity and eye health with supplementation of CDP-Choline, intraocular pressure does not appear to be affected.
grade-d - - See study
No significant effects of CDP-Choline on weight, despite the small appetite reducing effect

Studies Excluded from Consideration

  • Used intramuscular injections[1]

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Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on CDP-choline

What source of choline should I use?
Choline bitartrate is sufficient for any liver benefits of choline, although for nootropic purposes a more expensive form may be required. Both CDP-Choline and Alpha-GPC are effective

Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Also Known As

Citicholine, Cytidine Diphosphocholine

Do Not Confuse With

Choline (CDP-choline contains some choline, but is not exclusively choline), Uridine (similar in function to CDP-choline)

Goes Well With

  • Potentially synergistic with the same things as uridine

  • Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (for increasing acetylcholine content)

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Click here to see all 108 references.