Citicoline: A Versatile Memory and Learning Nootropic

18/05/2014 Tags: all

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Citicoline: A Versatile Memory and Learning Nootropic

Citicoline (also known as CDP choline) is a safe and effective, cognitive enhancing supplement. It is known to enhance cognitive performance as well as contribute to better neuronal health by supplying the brain with a vital neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It can be used as a standalone supplement, providing enhancements to a number of cognitive processes including learning, memory, focus and fluid intelligence. However, most nootropics users find that this supplement is most effective when taken as part of a stack as it has the ability to potentiate the effect of other nootropics. It was mostly used by the elderly for its neuroprotective effects against Alzheimer’s as well as to aid the recovery of stroke survivors, but an increasing number of healthy individuals are beginning to discover the many benefits this supplement can offer. So what is Citicoline? This article aims to cover some of the basic information users of this nootropic should know including what this supplement is and the benefits it offers, how it works, possible side effects and usage guidelines.


What is Citocoline

Citicoline was first isolated in Japan where it was used to aid the recovery of individuals that had suffered from ischemic strokes. As well as being considered a dietary supplement, Citicoline also occurs naturally in the body. Here it functions as an intermediate metabolite used in the production of phosphatidylcholine, an important biological molecule that is the primary constituent of grey matter. Phosphatidycholine is also found universally throughout every cell in the body where it makes up cell membranes. As well as accelerating post-stroke recovery, Citicoline also has potential for the treatment of glaucoma, perhaps due to its ability to improve the health of nerve tissue and increase cerebral blood flow.


What are the Benefits of Citicoline?

Citicoline’s benefits are mostly derived from this supplements ability to increase acetylcholine activity in the brain. This vital neurotransmitter plays an important role in your brains ability to make, break, strengthen and weaken the links between the neurons of your brain, also known as synaptic plasticity. A greater degree of synaptic plasticity has numerous benefits, for example memory formation and the speed at which memories can be recalled are both improved. Partly as a result of this, learning capacity is also likely to see a notable improvement.

Citicoline can also enhance the overall metabolism of the brain. By improving cerebral blood flow, the brain is able to receive more oxygen and glucose, two components which are vital for neurons to function optimally. Many Citicoline users have reported that this supplement appears to increase their levels of mental energy which can in turn serve to increase focus, attention span and motivation.

Additionally, Citicoline has several clinical applications and is used to treat vascular diseases of the brain, trauma to the head and several types of neurological disorders ranging from dementia to cognitive decline in old age. This supplement may be particularly useful regarding the treatment of ischemic strokes as it could possibly repair some of the damage caused, and reduce the risk of additional strokes in the future. Other research has highlighted Citicoline as being able to prevent damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption and traumatic head injuries, while it may also be useful in limiting the memory loss seen with Alzheimer’s.


How Does Citicoline Work?

Citicoline functions primarily as a cholinergic supplement, providing the body with an additional source of choline. Choline is the precursor required to make the important neurotransmitter acetylcholine, but unfortunately a majority of people do not obtain adequate amounts from their diets, with only around 10% meeting their recommended allowance. Even minor choline deficiencies can negatively impact cognitive performance so it is important to ensure we obtain an adequate amount. Using a supplement like Citicoline will increase the concentration of choline in your blood, which will in turn promote the production of acetylcholine. It is interesting to note that Citicoline provides a greater degree of cognitive enhancement than equivalent sized dosages of choline. The reason for this is that CIticoline has a greater bioavailability than choline, and is also a closer precursor for acetylcholine.

Upon ingestion, Citicoline is absorbed before being transported by the bloodstream to the head. Due to the fact that it is a psychotropic substance, it passes easily across the blood brain barrier where it reaches the brain. Here it is broken down into its constituents, choline and cytidine before being distributed across the brain. As this supplement is incorporated as part of phospholipids, it perpetuates their biosynthesis.

Citicoline influences the action of several different types of neurotransmitter. As mentioned earlier, it acts as a precursor for the production of acetylcholine, boosting cholinergic activity. This promotes increased synaptic plasticity, memory and learning. Additionally, levels of Norepinephrine and Dopamine also appear to be increased. This could explain why some users have reported feelings of well-being and a reduction in stress levels when using Citicoline.

Citicoline also has a number of neuroprotective properties. Like many nootropics, it is an anti-oxidant, protecting the body from oxidative damage by reactive oxygen species and other free radicals. It also aids by preserving several important substances including Cardiolipin, an important membrane component of cell organelles known as mitochondria, as well as Sphingomyelin used in the myelin sheath that surrounds the axons of many neurons.


Potential Side Effects of Citicoline

Although Citicoline is generally considered to be safe, there have been a few reported side effects. It should however be noted that such side effects are quite mild in nature and usually only occur at higher dosages in excess of the recommended daily amount. These side effects may include insomnia, diarrhoea, headaches, nausea and gastrointestinal distress. The risk factor with this supplement is very low, and many individuals actually use Citicoline to combat the headaches associated with increased choline demand caused by use of nootropics like racetams.

Citicoline Dosage and Use

Citicoline is a relatively versatile supplement and can be taken in a number of different ways. Some users find it helpful to divide the recommended 500-2,000mg dosage into several administrations to be taken throughout the day. You may also want to consider cycling this supplement with a different choline source, although most users find this unnecessary and have no problems with using Citicoline on a regular basis. To gain the full range of benefits this supplement can offer, it should be taken with other types of nootropic supplements as part of a stack. Citicoline, like other cholinergic supplements, works well with racetam nootropics as it can potentiate the benefits gained, in addition to negating potential side effects.