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.
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. Growth hormone may enhance muscle building and exercise performance and carries anti-aging properties, so alpha-GPC contributes indirectly to these benefits.
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.
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.
Besides increasing growth hormone, alpha-GPC also increases the brain chemical acetylcholine, which improves memory and learning. This could be of potential interest to Alzheimer’s disease patients, as Alzheimer’s is associated with decreased acetylcholine levels.
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.
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.
Some dosages used in studies include 600 mg a day to increase growth hormone and exercise performance and 400 mg three times a day to treat Alzheimer’s. 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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