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Alpha-GPC

    Alpha-GPC is a choline compound derived from soy and other plants. Uniquely, it crosses the blood-brain barrier to deliver choline directly to the brain. It also boosts acetylcholine levels, improving cognitive function.[1]

    Alpha-GPC is currently being studied for its ability to increase growth hormone levels. It is included in supplements said to burn fat and boost exercise performance. Alpha-GPC is also said to improve mental focus and is being studied for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Because increased cholinergic tone enhances growth hormone release, alpha-GPC’s effect on choline levels increases growth hormone levels as well.[2] Growth hormone may enhance muscle building and exercise performance and carries anti-aging properties, so alpha-GPC contributes indirectly to these benefits.[3]

    In one study, GH-release hormone (GHRH) was given to volunteers, with or without alpha-GPC. Both young and elderly subjects had a greater growth hormone response to the combination of GHRH and alpha-GPC.[2]

    Another study demonstrates the effect of alpha-GPC on both growth hormone levels and athletic performance. In this study, seven men took either an alpha-GPC supplement or placebo before an intense exercise routine. Results indicated 600 mg alpha-GPC administered 90 minutes prior to resistance exercise increases post-exercise growth hormone and peak bench press force.[4]

    Besides increasing growth hormone, alpha-GPC also increases the brain chemical acetylcholine, which improves memory and learning.[5] This could be of potential interest to Alzheimer’s disease patients, as Alzheimer’s is associated with decreased acetylcholine levels.[6]

    In one study, scientists treated Alzheimer’s patients with alpha-GPC as an acetylcholine precursor. They measured efficacy outcome scores after 90 and 180 days of treatment. All assessed parameters improved for those taking alpha-GPC, compared to unchanged or worsened scores in those taking placebo. The study suggests alpha-GPC could effectively treat Alzheimer’s symptoms.[7]

    Alpha-GPC is generally safe to use, and seems to be well tolerated in short-term studies. However, experts believe alpha-GPC could cause heartburn, headache, insomnia, dizziness, skin rash, and confusion in some users.[5]

    Some dosages used in studies include 600 mg a day to increase growth hormone and exercise performance[4] and 400 mg three times a day to treat Alzheimer’s.[7] Despite this, there is no firm dosage established. The proper dosage for alpha-GPC depends on age and health, so talk to a doctor to determine what’s safe for you.

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