Choline is the chemical precursor for a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which is involved with memory and learning ability. There are many sources of this essential nutrient and choline bitartrate has its merits and drawbacks.
While choline bitartrate benefits people using choline for their liver benefits, the research on this substance for cognitive performance and preventing cognitive decline is somewhat hit or miss. As you will see throughout this article, there may be better alternative sources of choline.
Nonetheless, choline bitartrate is used commonly as a synergistic compound alongside common nootropics like piracetam and others in this family.
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Editors’ Thoughts on Choline Bitartrate
There is a lot of skepticism about choline bitartrate being effective for the brain and I am no less skeptical. In fact, the science has kept me from ever trying choline bitartrate at all.
That being said, choline bitartrate is a lot cheaper than some of the other forms of choline we will recommend later on in this profile. Quite frankly, nootropics can be expensive and anyone who is interested in improving cognitive performance on a budget could probably benefit from choline bitartrate at least somewhat.
I’m not anti-choline bitartrate per se, but I do believe there are far better versions like CDP choline or alpha GPC if you are using the drug for cognitive effects. I’m not one to judge if cost is prohibitive for these, however.
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
Benefits of Choline Bitartrate
The main benefits of choline bitartrate are similar to the other drugs of this type. By improving concentrations of a raw material called choline, the brain can create more acetylcholine, which is involved in everything from motor function to memory formation and learning.
The primary benefits of added choline are related to memory formation and learning ability. In one study, choline bitartrate increased concentrations of choline containing compounds (a measure for efficacy) by 19% in the elderly and up to 60% in healthy adults .
This suggests that although elderly people might benefit from choline in general, choline bitartrate might not be the best option compared to younger adults.
Unfortunately, one of the most recent studies on choline bitartrate suggests it may not be as beneficial as we think. In a 2016 study published in PLoS One, scientists concluded that “…choline likely has no acute effects on cholinergic memory functions in healthy human participants…” . In fact, the results were in contrast with animal studies suggesting either there is only tentative evidence or it doesn’t exist at all.
However, there are benefits of choline bitartrate for the liver and while this is outside the realm of Nootropedia and our focus on the brain, it is important to note for those interested in liver benefits.
Choline Bitartrate Compared to Other Choline Sources
One of the main reasons choline bitartrate is considered to be a poor cognitive enhancer or nootropic option is because of the alternative choline sources. As you will see, both the CDP choline (citicoline) and alpha GPC options have their own cognitive merits:
CDP Choline – compared to choline bitartrate, CDP choline is far more effective for improving mental performance. Not only does CDP choline provide more raw choline for conversion into acetylcholine, but it also helps to synthesize uridine as well (which has cognitive enhancing effects).
Unlike choline bitartrate, there is plenty of evidence in favor of CDP choline. This compound can help improve memory recall in older subjects (such as free recall, word recall etc) . This shows that citicoline can prevent cognitive decline in elderly (at least according to this study).
Furthermore, citicoline can enhance memory formation and learning as well. A 1996 study in Archives of Neurology suggested that “citicoline therapy improved verbal memory functioning…” .
Alpha GPC – similar to citicoline (but far different mechanisms) is alpha GPC. This compound is the most efficient for choline and preventing cognitive decline. It is about 40% of raw choline by weight with notable cognitive decline benefits .
In over 260 participants (a large sample size), those with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease were able to improve symptoms over a 6 month period . Like citicoline, there is also evidence that alpha GPC is not only useful for cognitive decline, but enhancement as well .
Finally, unlike any other choline source, alpha GPC has benefits for power output and physical strength. While not yet replicated or validated, a study in the 2008 Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that alpha GPC could increase power output by up to 14% .
Soy Lecithin – unlike the other two choline sources, soy lecithin is not a better choice than choline bitartrate. In fact, it is the weakest choice and should be avoided if you’d like to save money and avoid wasting your time.
Common Choline Bitartrate Stacks
The reason choline bitartrate is used so often within the nootropic community is because it is a raw choline source. While we recommend other sources and do not believe bitartrate is that effective, we acknowledge the cost might be prohibitive to some people.
Here are a list of the common choline bitartrate stacks that people combine for cognitive effects:
Piracetam and Choline Bitartrate – one of the most common reasons people take choline bitartrate in the first place is to stack with piracetam. There are some studies (though tentative) to suggest piracetam and choline can be more effective and have some type of synergy together.
Whether or not this is true, some people do experience headaches after taking racetams without a source of choline (and some people experience the opposite). It’s common for beginners to try piracetam with choline bitartrate because it is a more cost effective place to start.
This is fine, but just make sure that you evaluate your budgetary constraints thoroughly and remain open to new sources of choline that might be more effective.
Aniracetam and Choline Bitartrate – this is pretty basic, but many people also use choline bitartrate as a choline source for aniracetam. This smart drug is similar to piracetam in structure, though slightly different in effects. This is fat soluble and somewhat stimulating (as it peaks in the blood in the short-term).
Again, if this is a starting point, there is nothing wrong with find choline bitartrate for sale, but it might be more effective to go with CDP choline and alpha GPC at some point.
Choline Bitartrate Side Effects
In another study with choline bitartrate, trained cyclists used the compound to try and reduce fatigue with no effect . From much of the scientific evidence on choline bitartrate, it would seem the drug does very little to change cognition or any other effects within the body at all.
However, there are some anecdotal experiences of choline bitartrate side effects one can read on communities like Reddit and Longecity. Some people feel more “in their head” when using choline bitartrate, though this is confounded with other ingredients .
Still others (usually those who have enough choline in their system – referred to as choline dominant) complain that they get headaches from taking choline bitartrate. This is most likely not due to the choline bitartrate side effects per se, but more the general choline side effects.
Choline Bitartrate Dosage
The recommended dosage of choline bitartrate will range depending on the person. A good range to keep in mind is anywhere between 500 – 3500 mg per day. Most people will not experience much from 500 mg per day, though we do not recommend starting out at the maximum dose.
The choline bitartrate dosage will also depend on the other compounds you use alongside it. For example, someone using choline bitartrate alongside piracetam or aniracetam might want to utilize more for effect.
How and Where to Buy Choline Bitartrate
Choline bitartrate is very easy to find as it is commonly (falsely) considered a good source of choline. Although most users will probably not find choline bitartrate for sale in a local health food or grocery store, it is possible to find it online relatively easily.
A simple online search will allow users to buy choline bitartrate fairly easily, but it is important to find a higher quality vendor that has been properly vetted for quality assurance purposes. If you must buy choline bitartrate, we recommend you do so here.
However, we would strongly advise anyone involved with nootropics to purchase alpha GPC or CDP choline in order to vastly enhance the effects of the choline.
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