Citicoline Review: Uses, Benefit, Effects

Citicoline, also known as CDP choline is one of the most potent and highly bioavailable nootropics that can upregulate choline levels in our body. It can trigger a wide array of nootropic effects as well as provide medicinal benefits for patients who have survived a stroke. Read more to find out the efficacy and efficiency of Citicoline!

Now all of us know the importance of choline in the human body.

From being a critical constituent of our cell membranes to playing an essential role as a neurotransmitter, choline is basically our companion in everything.

The deficiency of choline is linked to several complications including memory loss, impaired motor function, and age-related cognitive decline. 

This is where supplements rich in choline come into play! 

Choline supplements provide a therapeutic advantage to the users by enhancing cognitive functioning (nootropic effects), improving recovery from ailments, and increasing your overall energy levels. 

One such choline supplement that we are talking about today is Citicoline.

This naturally occurring supplement is one of the most promising treatment options to be prescribed for choline deficiency. 

Stay with me till the end to know what this nootropic really has to offer and why I would totally recommend it any time of the day! 

What is Citicoline?

Citicoline also referred to as CDP-choline has the biochemical name cytidine-5-diphosphocholine, and is a naturally occurring compound in our brain. 

As the biochemical name suggests, it constitutes Cytidine and Choline both (1). 

Now because it is a cholinergic supplement, you may think that Citicoline would be similar to choline but that is not the case as the former is much more complex in nature, thus making it more potent and bioavailable. 

Most people are often confused about whether Citicoline and CDP-choline are different nootropics, and the answer is No! Citicoline and CDP-choline are just one compound but often used in different circumstances. For example, when it is produced in the body, it is referred to as CDP-choline but when given as a supplement or therapy, Citicoline is the term that is used. 

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How Does it Work?

When you take citicoline orally, it gets broken down into choline and cytidine.

Once absorbed, these nutrients are delivered throughout the body, with some crossing the blood-brain barrier. In the brain, they are resynthesized into CDP-choline and other required phospholipids (2). 

Citicoline is known to:

  • Boost neurotransmitter synthesis
  • Promote healthy cell membranes
  • Protect neurons (brain cells)
  • Increase cerebral blood flow

Increases Neurotransmitters

Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh). As deficient choline is typically the limiting step in ACh production, more choline leads to increased levels of ACh in the brain.

ACh is partly responsible for memory, learning, and overall brain health and function. ACh levels tend to decrease as we age, and low levels of ACh are associated with many age-related cognitive diseases.

ACh is not the only neurotransmitter increased by supplementing with this nootropic. Multiple animal studies have found an increase in serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine levels. 

Promotes Healthy Cell Membranes

Citicoline is known to promote healthy cell membranes by boosting phospholipid metabolism. Phospholipids are critical in forming the outer membrane around cells, thus keeping brain cells safe and intact.

It boosts all three major phospholipids found in brain cell membranes: phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylserine (3). Citicoline does this both through the synthesis of phospholipids and by reducing their breakdown.

Protects Neurons in the Brain

Neurons are the basic working cells found in the brain. They communicate to one another through electrical and chemical impulses that essentially allow us to properly respond to our environment.

Through the improved creation and reduced breakdown of phospholipids covered above, citicoline may help to prevent the death of neurons, particularly those found in the hippocampus (2,3).

Additional ways that this nootropic protects brain cells is through the repair of damaged cholinergic neurons and the reduction of free fatty acids in stroke patients.

Top 8 Citicoline Benefits

Several studies provide evidence of numerous benefits after Citicoline supplementation owing to this compound’s neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing properties.

Enhances Memory and Learning

Memory and learning tend to decrease as we age.

These brain processes are largely dependent upon healthy cell membranes for proper nerve impulse transmission as well as a good supply of acetylcholine. As we get older, we experience a decrease in brain cell membrane phospholipids, which leads to hindered membrane function and a loss of cholinergic neurons.

One human study found an improvement in both memory acquisition and global memory efficiency in elderly patients suffering from memory loss following six weeks of supplementation with CDP-choline (2).

Improves Attention

Studies have found citicoline to be effective at improving attention in those with a deficit in cognitive performance, including the elderly and those who have suffered a stroke. More recently, studies have found this to apply to the general population as well. (4)

Citicoline was found to improve focus and attention performance over 28 days of supplementation in healthy adult women. Another study found similar results for young, adolescent males (5).

These results, combined with user reports, suggest that this nootropic may be helpful for those with ADHD.

Protects from Brain Injury and Stroke

Multiple studies have found protective benefits from Citicoline supplementation for those suffering from brain injuries and strokes.

These benefits include boosted phospholipid levels, reduced free fatty acid release following ischemia, and increased glutathione levels. These findings suggest that this supplement may help to reduce oxidative stress while enhancing overall brain health and the ability to recover from brain injuries. (2).

In fact, one study concluded that taking CDP-choline within the first 24 hours following a stroke increased the probability of complete recovery at the three-month mark (6). 

Another human study found that 1,000 mg/day helped to boost both cognitive and motor abilities, while another demonstrated that it helped to restore blood flow to the site of brain trauma, helping to restore memory (7,8).

Fights Age-Related Cognitive Decline

Administration of citicoline for six weeks in the elderly was found to increase the brain levels of the byproducts of phospholipid metabolism. This finding suggests that supplementation with this nootropic may increase the synthesis and turnover of phospholipids, which can help to reverse age-related cognitive decline (2).

May Help Alzheimer’s Disease Patients

Human studies have demonstrated that choline helps to improve symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

This drug may boost neuronal regeneration and restore membrane phospholipids in AD patients. It has also been demonstrated in human studies of AD patients to increase cerebral blood flow and improve immune strength (9).

Improves Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

In a study on Parkinson’s disease patients, it was found that injection with 500 mg citicoline daily led to improvement in symptoms. This may be due to the impact of Citicoline on dopamine levels (10).

May Help to Repair Glaucoma Damage

This drug has been shown to repair optic nerve damage found in glaucoma patients through phosphatidylcholine synthesis and by a boost in dopamine production (11).

May Help You Lose Weight

While much more research is needed on the use of this drug for modulating appetite, the limited evidence and user reports are promising (12). 

In a study on appetite and food cravings in humans, functional brain responses post-treatment led researchers to conclude that citicoline may be helpful in reducing appetite. The treatment was 2,000 mg/day of citicoline for 6 weeks. However, no significant weight loss during this period was found.

Additional Benefits

Because of its impact on brain health and choline levels in the body, it’s speculated that this supplement may help with depression, addiction to drugs, autism, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, but more dedicated research is needed. 

One study also found that it may boost serum growth hormone (11). 

Is Citicoline Legal? 

Thankfully, Citicoline meets all the regulations and is available in the market as a dietary supplement. 

Perhaps you can visit any store and buy Citicoline supplements in the USA and many other countries without any legal issues or prescriptions. 

What is Citicoline Used For?

Originally developed for stroke treatment, citicoline has since been used to help those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, brain injuries, age-related memory decline, drug addiction, glaucoma, ADHD, and more recently for pronounced nootropic effects.

As a nootropic, people use CDP-choline on its own to help with memory, learning, focus, and more. Citicoline is often used by neurohackers in a nootropic stack where it’s combined with other nootropics as a source of choline.

Citicoline Dosage 

CDP-choline is typically taken orally. Now what dosage you choose will depend on why you’re taking the compound, your individual experience with it, and even your diet (heavy meat eaters tend to get more choline from their diet when compared to their vegetarian counterparts).

Standard dosing in human clinical studies was generally between 500 to 2,000 mg/day divided into two doses. Please avoid going beyond 2000 mg/day as it is going to do no good!

The typical dose for the nootropic benefits such as enhanced cognition, improved memory, learning, and optimal brain functioning is between 250 and 500 mg/day. 

In a meta-analysis of studies on citicoline in stroke patients, it was found that 2,000 mg/day was the most effective dose at reducing symptoms and achieving recovery.

Doses for Other Medical Conditions

The following dosages have been used in human studies:

  • Alzheimer’s disease: 1,000 mg/day orally
  • Parkinson’s disease: 500 mg/day intramuscular injection
  • Glaucoma: 1,000 mg/day intramuscular injection
  • Head injury and brain trauma: 1,000 mg/day orally
  • Age-related memory impairment: 1,000-2,000 mg/day orally
  • Appetite-suppressant: 2,000 mg/day orally

Dietary Sources of Citicoline

If you’re simply looking to increase your choline levels, you can always increase the choline-rich food in your diet. While most foods rich in this nutrient are animal-based, there are vegetarian sources of choline too. 

Here is a list of high-choline foods:

  • Beef liver
  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Scallops
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Peanuts
  • Eggs

Half-Life of Citicoline 

Citicoline is excreted through the body in two ways: through respiratory CO2 and excretion through the urine. Because of these two excretion pathways, there are two half-lives: 56 hours through CO2 and 71 hours through urine. 

Side Effects and Contraindications

This drug is considered safe with a very low toxicology profile, however, side effects of headache, stomach pain, and diarrhea have been reported with oral use. Users have reported depression and other mood-related symptoms as well. 

There are concerns that this compound may not be safe for those with liver or kidney conditions, however, there is no specific data. Additionally, high choline intake has been linked with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

There are no contraindications as of yet too because no studies have been done on the safety profile of this supplement for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant.

User Reviews and Experience 

It is important to also know about people’s experiences with the supplement because sometimes even scientific evidence fails to highlight the insights. 

One of the users gave a detailed review about the nootropic as he said, 

“I can give you my experience. It’s been one of the best noots for me. Strangely enough it’s been a “pick-me-up” stimulant. It makes me think I am not getting enough choline, but even when I engorge on eggs the CDP Choline still works its magic. 15 minutes after ingestion and I’m feeling much better, consistently.

I’m actually feeling cruddy at work today and wish I had some on me.

I’ve had extreme long-term depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia in the past, and am in the recovery process. CDP choline seems to mitigate the effects I feel when I’ve got extremely low amount of dopamine activity and high amounts of cortisol. I feel more confident and able to focus on what needs to be said/done rather than the aching in pain.

Give it a try. It’s pretty benign.”

Another user said, 

“been taking CDP choline for 3-4 years. I never exceed 250mg and most days I take about 100-200mg with about 2.4g-3.2g of piracetam. CDP choline is good for ADHD symptoms in low doses if I take too much i get muscle twitches and brain fog. its really good for memory and energy too.”

Another used on Reddit shared his experience saying,

“Hi guys,

Any long-term users of citicoline here? I’ve been taking 500mg each morning (along with other vitamins and COQ10 – *no racetams) for 4 weeks and it’s been a very positive experience.

Some subjective effects I’ve noticed:

– Decreased brain fog

– Increased wakefulness (though can result in insomnia if taken too late in the day)

– Increased reading focus, comprehension, and retention

– Increased verbal fluency/articulacy

– Decreased social anxiety

– Decreased impulsivity

– Increased mindfulness”

While this is all good, i did notice that people report sleep problems after using Citicoline supplement. Maybe avoid using just before sleeping to avoid insomnia-like symptoms, but otherwise it’s good to go supplement! 

Citicoline Stacks

Most neurohackers love combining different nootropics to enjoy the synergistic benefits with the fewest side effects. As a source of choline, citicoline is often included in a nootropic stack.

Citicoline, Phenylpiracetam and Adrafinil 

Citicoline, adrafinil, and phenylpiracetam are often stacked together to offer similar cognitive benefits.

Both phenylpiracetam and adrafinil are so effective at boosting energy and performance that they’re banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency for competitive sports.

Phenylpiracetam is a member of the racetam family of nootropics. It’s one of the most powerful nootropics when it comes to increasing energy, boosting stress tolerance, lifting mood, providing motivation, and enhancing memory.

Adrafinil boasts many of the same benefits, and when combined they become exceptionally effective at improving mood, energy, alertness, and motivation.

CDP-choline is crucial here as a source of choline. Racetams work their magic only when there is a sufficient source of choline in the body. If you don’t add a quality choline source to your racetam stack the side effects can be unfortunate, and the nootropics will stop working for you.

Citicoline and Alpha GPC

Both of these nootropics are great sources of choline and offer memory and learning benefits.

While Citicoline is more potent and bioavailable, Alpa GPC is no less and is often used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular dementia, and to enhance cognitive functioning. 

CDP-choline and Piracetam

Piracetam is a powerful nootropic that needs to be paired with an external choline source. This is because Piracetam increases the need for ACh, which uses choline to be produced in the body. By pairing this racetam with a choline source, you boost its effectiveness and ward off many of the unwanted side effects that are caused by too little choline in the body.

Where To Buy Citicoline? 

Because Citicoline is commonly used as a dietary supplement, you will find this nootropic anywhere and everywhere. 

Well, head down to read my top 5 online vendor picks to make your Citicoline purchase from without any hassle! 

CDP-Choline (Citicoline) by Double Wood Supplements 

While Double Wood Supplements offers only the CDP choline capsules, it offers three different packs, which are individual boxes of CDP choline, the double pack as well as the triple pack. 

All the different products are 60mg, 120mg, and 180mg capsules alongside 300mg mixed. 

With all of its products manufactured in the USA, and third-party tested as well, Double Wood Supplements gains the trust of its customers. Also, it’s gluten-free as well as Non-GMO, thus making it a well-accepted supplement. 

With a price range of $19.95 to $49.95, Double Wood Supplements offers authentic yet high-quality CDP choline in a reasonable price range. 

Not only this, but if you subscribe to the brand, you will get an additional 10% discount.  

Pros

  • Three different packs
  • Third-party tested 
  • Multiple power variants are available  

Cons

  • Trace amounts of soy present
  • Fewer customer reviews of the product 
Citicoline Review: Uses, Benefit, Effects

Cognizin Citicoline by Nootropics Depot 

Nootropics Depot offers Cognizin Citicoline capsules at a price of $26.99. Each serving constitutes 250mg which is enough for a day. 

The two versions available at Nootropics depot are either 60ct or 180ct. Depending on how long you are planning to take citicoline, you can buy either the 60 servings bottle or the 180 one! 

Not only this, Nootropics Depot also offers the powder form of the supplement. Cognizin Citicoline powder is also available in multiple forms, including 30 grams or 60 grams. Note that the price range of citicoline powder is $34.99 to $61.99. 
With same-day shipping and free shipping on orders above $200, Nootropic depot becomes one of the top choices to make your purchase from. 

Also, the customer reviews of the product, as well as the brand, speak volumes of what Nootropic Depot offers. 
Visit the store and add Cognizin Citicoline into the bucket immediately and see the change yourself! 

CDP Choline (Citicoline) by Pure Nootropics 

Pure Nootropics offer Citicoline capsules at a price of $19.99. 
The bottle contains 60 vegetarian capsules constituting 600mg, thus one bottle can last for around 2 months. 

Pure Nootropics provide a certificate of analysis as well, therefore establishing the credibility and originality of the product. 

With multiple payment options, such as Bitcoin, Visa card, and Mastercard, I think Pure Nootropics seem to be a feasible option to make your purchase. 

Pros

  • Enough to last for 2 months 
  • Certificate of Analysis provided 
  • Economical 

Cons

  • Only capsule form 
  • Few customer reviews

Citicoline Sodium Powder by Liftmode 

Citicoline powder by Liftmode will cost you anywhere around $11.68 to &122.88. The price value depends on whether you buy 5g, 20g, 50g, or 100g of the compound.

Liftmode is one of the top brands and offers you Non-GMO products, vegan and gluten-free, HPLC lab-tested to establish the purity of the compound, and is free of any additives as well. 
With free shipping on all US orders above $49, Citicoline by Liftmode is pretty much what you need.  

Pros

  • Multiple quantities available 
  • Vegan product 
  • Positive customer reviews

Cons

  • Capsules form not available 
  • Relatively expensive

Citicoline/CDP choline Sodium Powder by Pure Rawz 

It’s quite a hassle to find just the perfect vendor for nootropics. The fear of purity and legality is always on a customer’s mind. However, with Pure Rawz, you have nothing to worry about. 
Pure Rawz offers a 10g Piracetam powder with a complete guarantee of purity. With shipping orders free above $100 and a low price of just $22.98, Citicoline by Pure Rawz is a go-to vendor.  

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Read full Pure Rawz Review

Pros

  • Very cheap and affordable 
  • Purity and customer satisfaction are up to the standard 

Cons

  • Only one variant is available 
  • No customer reviews are available 

Citicoline vs Other Compounds 

Choline vs Citicoline

Choline belongs to the B-vitamin complex. While it’s produced in the body at low levels, it’s still considered an essential nutrient as our bodies need more than we produce endogenously.

Citicoline is a supplement which is broken down to form choline and cytidine. With most of the benefits of citicoline attributed to choline, you may wonder why not just take a choline supplement?

When your body breaks citicoline down into choline and cytidine, some of the cytidines is used for the production of nucleotides in the brain. It’s also been found that when cytidine is administered with choline, it increases the production of phosphatidylcholine. 

What this means is that the cytidine found in this supplement boosts the ability of choline to improve our brain health and function.

This is especially true for brain injury and stroke, where the boost in phosphatidylcholine is critical to the effectiveness of the drug.

Additionally, cytidine greatly lowers the toxicology of choline. Choline on its own is quite safe, however, it is even safer when combined with cytidine.

Citicoline vs Alpha GPC

Both citicoline and alpha GPC are highly bioavailable sources of choline for the body. They’re known to help improve brain metabolism, phospholipid biosynthesis, and neurotransmitter levels.

Many of the benefits attributed to each of these nootropics is owing to their ability to boost ACh levels in the brain. In order to understand where the differences lie, we must first understand choline metabolism and how ACh is formed.

Choline in our bodies is converted into CDP choline, which in turn is broken down to form phosphatidylcholine. This compound is used in the synthesis of ACh by being converted into glycerophosphocholine (GPC), then choline, and finally ACh.

As you can see, when you supplement with citicoline, you enter early on in the ACh synthesis process. When you take alpha GPC, you enter later, at the glycerophosphocholine (GPC) step. Thus, the difference in ACh synthesis is that alpha GPC is a byproduct of phosphatidylcholine, whereas citicoline is a precursor to phosphatidylcholine.

Simply put, when you supplement with alpha GPC, you enter the ACh synthesis process much closer to the final synthesis of ACh when compared to citicoline, where you enter closer to the original source of choline.

When you take alpha GPC, it breaks down, delivering choline and producing ACh. When you take CDP choline, it is used as an intermediate to create more ACh when needed.

As both of these nootropics provide similar benefits to the user and are involved in the same ACh synthesis process, it’s natural to wonder which one is superior when it comes to nootropic benefits. This question doesn’t have a black-and-white answer.

Because of the differences outlined above, it would make sense that alpha GPC would lead to the greatest increase in ACh levels. 

How long should citicoline be taken?

Citicoline treatment for 12 months in patients with first-ever ischemic stroke is safe and probably effective in improving poststroke cognitive decline. Citicoline appears to be a promising agent to improve recovery after stroke.

Can you take citicoline daily?

Oral dosages of 250 to 2,000 mg daily have been evaluated in adolescents and adults in clinical trials. Lower doses have been used in short-term trials with combination therapy in patients with major depressive disorder. 

Does citicoline help sleep?

There was no effect of citicoline treatment on standard parameters of sleep, measures of sleep quality, or measures of quantity obtained from actigraphy data. There was no effect of citicoline treatment on subjective measures of sleep or cognitive function as well.

Does citicoline work immediately?

Some research shows that stroke patients who take citicoline by mouth or by IV within 24 hours of having the kind of stroke that is caused by a clot (ischemic stroke) may be more likely to have a complete recovery within 3 months.

What type of drug is citicoline?

Citicoline is a nerve protecting medicine. It works on the brain by nourishing the nerve cells, protects them from damage and improves their survival.

Is citicoline good for the liver?

This study recommends citicoline as a possible protective mediator with therapeutic and antioxidant capability against acute liver failure. 

What are the contraindications of citicoline?

If you are allergic to Citicoline or any components of this medicine or conditions causing increased muscle tone or stiffness (rigidity, spasticity, or dystonia) are some of the contraindications. 

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Citicoline
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7616250
https://file.scirp.org/pdf/FNS20120600007_87495447.pdf
https://kyowa-usa.com/news/2014/07-29
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12468781
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S097305080980021X
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1940960
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10599052
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Kartik Kumar Rathi

Kartik is a Doctor in training currently in his second year of medical school with the ultimate goal of becoming a successful cardiologist, he currently contributes to health blogs, research papers and also founded a social health startup to help educate others.

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CDP-Choline (Citicoline) by Double Wood Supplements 

CDP-Choline by Double Wood Supplements