Last Updated: September 28, 2022

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.

Alpha-GPC is most often used for

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.[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.[6] 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 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.

What else is Alpha-GPC known as?
Note that Alpha-GPC is also known as:
  • Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine
  • L-alpha-glycerophosphocholin
  • glycerophosphocholine
  • L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine
  • Choline Alphoscerate
Alpha-GPC should not be confused with:
Dosage information

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.

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  1. ^Enea Traini, Vincenzo Bramanti, Francesco AmentaCholine alphoscerate (alpha-glyceryl-phosphoryl-choline) an old choline- containing phospholipid with a still interesting profile as cognition enhancing agentCurr Alzheimer Res.(2013 Dec)
  2. ^G Gatti, N Barzaghi, G Acuto, G Abbiati, T Fossati, E PeruccaA comparative study of free plasma choline levels following intramuscular administration of L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine and citicoline in normal volunteersInt J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol.(1992 Sep)
  3. ^De Jesus Moreno Moreno MCognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer's dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trialClin Ther.(2003 Jan)
  4. ^Parker A, Byars A, Purpura M, Jager RThe effects of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, caffeine or placebo on markers of mood, cognitive function, power, speed, and agilityJ Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2015 Sep)
  5. ^Lena Marcus, Jason Soileau, Lawrence W Judge, David BellarEvaluation of the effects of two doses of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on physical and psychomotor performanceJ Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2017 Oct 5)
  6. ^Ziegenfuss T, Landis J, Hofheins JAcute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exerciseJ Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2008 Sep)
  7. ^David Bellar, Nina R LeBlanc, Brian CampbellThe effect of 6 days of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on isometric strengthJ Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2015 Nov 17)
  8. ^Amy M Brownawell, Edward L Carmines, Federica MontesanoSafety assessment of AGPC as a food ingredientFood Chem Toxicol.(2011 Jun)
  9. ^Yongzhong Zhao, Zeneng WangImpact of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) metaorganismal pathway on cardiovascular diseaseJ Lab Precis Med.(2020 Apr)
  10. ^Gyeongsil Lee, Seulggie Choi, Jooyoung Chang, Daein Choi, Joung Sik Son, Kyuwoong Kim, Sung Min Kim, Seogsong Jeong, Sang Min ParkAssociation of L-α Glycerylphosphorylcholine With Subsequent Stroke Risk After 10 YearsJAMA Netw Open.(2021 Nov 1)
  11. ^Zeneng Wang, Jennie Hazen, Xun Jia, Elin Org, Yongzhong Zhao, Lucas J Osborn, Nisreen Nimer, Jennifer Buffa, Miranda K Culley, Daniel Krajcik, Bert-Jan H van den Born, Koos Zwinderman, Bruce S Levison, Max Nieuwdorp, Aldons J Lusis, Joseph A DiDonato, Stanley L HazenThe Nutritional Supplement L-Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine Promotes AtherosclerosisInt J Mol Sci.(2021 Dec 15)
  12. ^Seyed Khosrow Tayebati, Daniele Tomassoni, Antonio Di Stefano, Piera Sozio, Laura Serafina Cerasa, Francesco AmentaEffect of choline-containing phospholipids on brain cholinergic transporters in the ratJ Neurol Sci.(2011 Mar 15)
  13. ^Francesco Amenta, Seyed Khosrow Tayebati, Daniela Vitali, Maria Antonietta Di TullioAssociation with the cholinergic precursor choline alphoscerate and the cholinesterase inhibitor rivastigmine: an approach for enhancing cholinergic neurotransmissionMech Ageing Dev.(2006 Feb)
  14. ^M Trabucchi, S Govoni, F BattainiChanges in the interaction between CNS cholinergic and dopaminergic neurons induced by L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, a cholinomimetic drugFarmaco Sci.(1986 Apr)
  15. ^C M Lopez, S Govoni, F Battaini, S Bergamaschi, A Longoni, C Giaroni, M TrabucchiEffect of a new cognition enhancer, alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, on scopolamine-induced amnesia and brain acetylcholinePharmacol Biochem Behav.(1991 Aug)
Examine Database References
  1. Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms - De Jesus Moreno Moreno MCognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer's dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trialClin Ther.(2003 Jan)
  2. Growth Hormone - Tim Ziegenfuss, Jamie Landis and Jennifer HofheinsAcute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exerciseJISSN.()
  3. Growth Hormone - Kawamura T, Okubo T, Sato K, Fujita S, Goto K, Hamaoka T, Iemitsu MGlycerophosphocholine enhances growth hormone secretion and fat oxidation in young adultsNutrition.(2012 Jun 5)
  4. Iron Absorption - Troesch B, Egli I, Zeder C, Hurrell RF, de Pee S, Zimmermann MBOptimization of a phytase-containing micronutrient powder with low amounts of highly bioavailable iron for in-home fortification of complementary foodsAm J Clin Nutr.(2009 Feb)
  5. Iron Absorption - Charlotte N Armah, Paul Sharp, Fred A Mellon, Sandra Pariagh, Elizabeth K Lund, Jack R Dainty, Birgit Teucher, Susan J Fairweather-TaitL-alpha-glycerophosphocholine contributes to meat's enhancement of nonheme iron absorptionJ Nutr.(2008 May)