Alpha-GPC Side Effects
A natural choline compound found in the brain, alpha-GPC is now being marketed as a dietary supplement for a variety of health benefits. Of course, as anything gains popularity, fear of adverse side effects surfaces.
Here’s an overview of the side effects you may see while taking alpha-GPC, both positive and negative.
NEGATIVE ALPHA-GPC SIDE EFFECTS
While most people don’t experience side effects with an alpha-GPC supplement—resulting in a “safe” label from WebMD—anecdotal evidence suggests some negative side effects are possible.1
In a study assessing alpha-GPC’s effect on stroke recovery, researchers monitored adverse side effects reported by patients. Only 2% reported side effects, but of these, the most common complaint was heartburn. According to reports, 0.7% of patients taking Alpha-GPC during this trial reported frequent heartburn.2
Though not clinically observed, headaches also plague some users. According to BodyBuilding.com member legends159, alpha-GPC always gives him problems:
“No matter what dosage I would use, it gave me slight headaches/fuzziness of thought.”
Members of a BrainMeta.com forum agree, citing mild headaches and other “undesired effects” related to alpha-GPC supplementation.
In the same study involving stroke patients, 0.4% complained of insomnia or excitation while taking alpha-GPC.2 This could be because acetylcholine is a mild central nervous stimulant. In users sensitive to stimulants, alpha-GPC may cause insomnia and other stimulant-like side effects.
According to clinical review on alpha-GPC studies, about 1% of the 3,000 combined subjects reported skin rash as a side effect.3 It is unclear whether these subjects took alpha-GPC orally or as a topical supplement.
POSITIVE ALPHA-GPC SIDE EFFECTS
It’s important to remember side effects aren’t always negative. While alpha-GPC is primarily taken to increase mental and physical energy, it has other side effects that translate into positive health benefits.
Human Growth Hormone Stimulation
Perhaps the most common reason people take alpha-GPC is its effect on human growth hormone (HGH) production. By stimulating the pituitary gland, alpha-GPC increases HGH release.4
HGH increases lean muscle mass, improves mental function during workouts, and strengthens speed and agility.5 This supports workouts and improves results, as well as providing powerful anti-aging benefits.
Because alpha-GPC increases acetylcholine levels in the brain, it is thought to improve cognitive function. A neurotransmitter, acetylcholine is strongly associated with improved mental function, including enhanced memory, concentration, and learning skills.
For these reasons, alpha-GPC is considered a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. In a 2003 study, Alzheimer’s patients given Alpha-GPC saw consistent improvements in markers of cognitive function as compared to patients in a placebo group.6
So far, scientists haven’t explained a potential biological process for this benefit. It is believed choline alters many chemical reactions in the body and may decrease inflammation, but it isn’t known how these properties decrease cancer risk.
USING ALPHA-GPC SAFELY AND EFFECTIVELY
The best way to harness positive alpha-GPC side effects and avoid the negative ones is to follow dosing guidelines. As a dietary supplement, take between 500 and 1000 mg daily with food. The best results come when taken 90 minutes prior to strenuous mental or physical activities. Don’t exceed more than 2000 mg within 24 hours.
By following these guidelines and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle, you’ll be able to use alpha-GPC safely and effectively.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
- “ALPHA-GPC : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings – WebMD.” WebMD. WebMD, LLC., 1 Jan. 2009. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.
- Barbagallo, Sangiorgi G., M. Barbagallo, M. Giordano, M. Meli, and R. Panzarasa. 1994. “Alpha-Glycerophosphocholine in the mental recovery of cerebral ischemic attacks”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol. 7171, 253-69.
- Kidd, Parris M. “GPC Injectable: GlyceroPhosphoCholine (GPC), Orthomolecular Nutrient.” Clinical Trial Summaries (2005): 1-17. Yumpu. Yumpu.com. Web. 5 June 2013.
- Ziegenfuss, Tim, Jamie Landis, and Jennifer Hofheins. 2008. “Acute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exercise”. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Vol. 5, Issue 1.
- Salomon, F., R.C. Cuneo, R. Hesp, and P.H. Sonksen. 1989. “The effects of treatment with recombinant human growth hormone on body composition and metabolism in adults with growth hormone deficiency”. The New England Journal of Medicine: Vol. 321, Issue 26.
- De Jesus, Moreno and M. Moreno. 2003. “Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial”. Clinical Therapy: Vol. 35, Issue 1.
- Xu, Xinran, Marilie D. Gammon, Steven H. Zeisel, Patrick T. Bradshaw, James G. Wetmur, Susan T. Teitelbaum, Alfred I. Neugut, Regina M. Santella, and Jia Chen. 2009. “High intakes of choline and betaine reduce breast cancer mortality in a population-based study”. The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology: Vol. 23, Issue 11.
- Lee, Jung Eun, Edward Giovannucci, Charles S. Fuchs, Walter C. Willett, Steven H. Zeisel, and Eunyoung Cho. 2010. “Choline and betaine intake and the risk of colorectal cancer in men”. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers: Vol. 19, Issue 3.
- Al-Wadei, H.A., M.H. Al-Wadei, and H.M. Schuller. 2009. “Prevention of pancreatic cancer by the beta-blocker propranolol”. Anticancer Drugs: Vol. 20, Issue 6.