Understand Risks and Benefits of Taking Choline With Piracetam

I stumbled upon choline and piracetam on my quest to learn about brain supplements because of their potential to enhance learning and memory. After learning about a nootropic called piracetam, I have heard repeatedly that piracetam works much better when paired with choline. Some of the information on choline has been a bit contradictory so this is my attempt to understand the risks and benefits of taking choline with piracetam.

First of all, Choline, considered a B vitamin, is one of the rare substances that can cross the blood brain barrier. It helps maintain healthy synapses and membranes in the brain which tend to deteriorate with age. It’s also needed to form phosphatidylcholine, the main phospholipid of cell membranes. When extracellular supplies of choline are inadequate, these membranes can be drawn upon to supply the choline needed to produce more acetylcholine.

choline function in the brain
Choline is the precursor for acetylcholine, the chemical neurotransmitter (or fuel) necessary for learning and memory support. The way I understand it is that piracetam increases the usage of acetycholine in the brain and therefore, people taking piracetam use up choline at a much faster rate, because it has to keep replacing the acetylcholine that is lost by all that extra brain activity you are doing…

How Does the Body use Choline to Improve Brain Function?

Choline has many purported uses. It may be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, but some studies are controversial. It may help reduce anxiety, and it may be especially beneficial for those with memory problems. Some evidence suggests an association between low levels of choline and anxiety, but taking too much may backfire leading to depression. While no toxicity issues are currently known, that does not mean choline supplementation is without side effects (these are discussed in more detail below).

A really old study from the early 1980’s demonstrated behavioral memory benefits for rats given 100 mg/kg each of piracetam and choline over taking only one supplement by itself. Doing it like that (this is for research purposes only, not an endorsement), a 150 lb human lab rat (68 kg) would be given 68kgx100mg=or approximately 6,800 mg each of piracetam and choline…But today, we also know that the Tolerable Upper Intake level of choline, for adults, has been set at 3.5 grams (3,500 mg) per day. Above 3,500 mg, adverse side effects may include low blood pressure, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sweating, fishy body odor, blood thinning, and depression. So, in other words, taking the amount of choline that was given to the rats in the 1980s would be a bad idea because it is almost twice as much as the upper limit set for choline intake.

To put this into perspective, a large egg contains about 112 mg of choline. According to that, you would have to consume more than 31 eggs to reach the upper limit, (or 1 pound 13 ounces of beef liver…which is rather a lot I’ve been told…) so if you are overdosing on choline, it is probably from over supplementation rather than food sources. And if you are depressed, don’t take it out on the chicken.

But…because the quantities of choline found in foods tend to be so minimal and because cooking can even destroy choline, I think supplementation is probably a good idea, but that gets us back to the question:

HOW MUCH CHOLINE SHOULD I TAKE WITH PIRACETAM?

Answering that question has proved a challenge. I read that lecithin, although a source of choline, does not contain very much of it – you would need to take more than a cup?!?! That seems like a ridiculously high amount. Sometimes after taking just a teaspoon of lecithin with piracetam I would get a really tired heavy feeling in the head, but would usually feel better after a nap. But who knows, maybe I just wasn’t getting enough choline.

I’ve also read many different testimonial claims about what works for people on an individual basis when it comes to supplementing choline and it’s important to remember that individual requirements vary, but brain fog and headaches when taking piracetam is likely an indication that you are not getting your choline needs met. According to Quick Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements by Helen Pensanti M.D., a usual dose of choline should be between 200-500mg/day. However, that implies normal usage, which does not take into account the additional needs of a brain on piracetam, so, 800-1600 mg of choline is probably a better estimate range, and still safely below the upper intake limit of 3,500 mg/day.

Another option which I am seriously considering is to take alpha GPC at 500 mg/day instead. It is a little more spendy, but stronger so you can take less. Alpha GPC is derived from highly purified soy lecithin and is a natural source of choline rapidly delivered to the brain. Some trial studies have already demonstrated statistically significant cognitive recovery for those suffering impairments after taking alpha GPC for 6 months. The usual dose of alpha GPC is between 300-1,200 mg/day according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha-GPC.


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11 thoughts on “Understand Risks and Benefits of Taking Choline With Piracetam

  1. I’ve been taking Piracetam 2400 mg for several days and have noticed an increase of anxiety, irritability, dizziness, slight headache and feeling tired. This article is very helpful and have read a few other sources that Piracetam taken without the proper amount of Choline will leave side effects of this nature, so I am going to add Choline into my regimen and hopefully this will remedy the problem. I will post my results in a few days.

    • Andy, thank you so much for your comment! Low levels of choline certainly could be contributing to the anxiety and other symptoms you describe. I hope you will come back and share your experience adding choline to your piracetam regime. Working out the best ratio of piracetam to choline can take a bit of tweaking and guesswork, and of course, weight and other factors will also vary person to person. Best of luck!

  2. Great article on choline vs piracetam…I just restarted my piracetam regimen as my college classes are kicking into gear and i need to get a lot of reading done. I did not realize lecithin had such little choline in it; ~26 mg per 1200 mg soy lecithin gel. The last time i took piracetam regularly I took one lecithin gel a day and had no headaches. I figure because my diet is so high protein i am getting a lot of choline that way. Ill report back in a few weeks…
    Omar Awad recently posted..When People Act on Gut Feelings, They Exhibit CooperationMy Profile

    • Thank you, Omar, for reading and sharing your interesting observations. 26 mg of choline/1200 mg soy lecithin gel is a very tiny amount indeed, especially considering that 200 mg of choline/day is the minimum for people who aren’t taking piracetam. So, in that case, one would have to take at least seven or eight 1200mg capsules of lecithin/day to meet the minimum. That means that if you were taking piracetam and wanted at least 800 mg of choline/day from those soy lecithin capsules, if my calculation is correct, you would have to be taking 30 or more lecithin capsules each day!! Much easier to get choline another way, and this might clarify for some of us who have taken lecithin with piracetam why headaches or mind fog might still be occurring. Seems like it would be kind of like trying to think without giving your brain the energy to do so.

  3. I’ve started taking oxiracetam again recently and I’ve noticed that I need a choline supplement as well (brain fog). I’ve used a combination of racetams and choline (citicoline/CDP choline) in the past and I’d like to give out a warning: to much choline can make you feel awfully depressed. I took about 800mg CDP per day (if I remember correctly) and was feeling fine at first. Then, one morning, my alarm clock went off and I just could not get out of bed. I felt like my life had no meaning at all and that it was never going to get better. I called in sick for school and curled up under the sheets until the day was over. This happened a few times (not every day) and was starting to worry that I was developing some kind of fast cycling bi-polar disorder. After a while I remembered reading somewhere that too much choline could cause feelings of depression. Remembering this took me a while, because in my head I had good reasons to feel depressed. I lowered my dosage to 250mg/day and was fine again. So if you ever start to recognize yourself in this story above, lower your choline intake. You should be feeling better in no-time ;)

    • Thank you Daan for sharing your experience with 800 mg of CDP choline combined with some of the other racetams having some unintended consequences, like feelings of depression and meaninglessness, when taken regularly. It is good to hear that reducing your choline dosage down to 250 mg/day seems to have resolved that issue for you.

      Isn’t it interesting how seemingly unrelated things can be linked? And that can be true of just about anything. Keeping a journal with a quick note on your supplements/nootropics/meds and moods might be a good way to track some of your personal trends over time and help you find what works best for you also. You could jot down how you felt you dealt with the stressors in your life in any given week. “Stress” will probably always be there, but we tend to put a more positive spin on those “challenges” when things are going well, so it’s a great idea to know what you may be doing right when things are going well.It may be necessary to reduce dosages or even take a break from time to time to get a better sense of where your body is at with everything.

  4. When I was suffering from the same problem then Normally in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. If I take Piracetam any later than 8pm, I find it hard to get to sleep. Initially, I was getting very vivid dreams. Short naps were fantastic! A 10 minute nap felt like a really deep 12 hour sleep. Its Really helpful for me and I feel relax now.
    For Health recently posted..Piracetam for Quick Thinking and Sharp MemoryMy Profile

  5. Very interesting blog entry indeed. I am a complete newbie in the world of nootropics and have only recently started my own stack. I probably don’t have the ratios/amount right but I just created my own routine and using ballpark estimates of the amount I should be taking. I’ve only been on this for a few days….

    Morning:
    Multivitamin, calcium, fish oil
    2 egg prepared some way (omelet, hard-boiled)
    2 cups coffee
    1 tablet Vinpocetine (cerebral vasodilator and metabolism enhancement)
    1200mg Aniracetam (fat-soluble)
    100mg L-Theanine for relaxation (Amp Focus energy drink is my go-to drink when I lack sleep and need to meet deadlines. It is the only energy drink that works for me and it has L-Theanine).

    Few hours later, before lunch or a few hours after lunch, before dinner:
    1 capsule Choline (120 mg phosphotidyl choline? It says supplied with 60mg choline)
    600 mg Piracetam
    OJ or punch to mask bitter flavor

    I’d like to add another serving of 600mg Piracetam but since I’m new, I’m timid about trying too much, esp when I read that aniracetam is much more potent.

    I can’t tell yet. I do feel more focused during mentally intensive tasks (reading scientific papers, writing) but I’ve also been getting more sleep than usual, and I’m sure it’s placebo since I just started, or due to egg intake. I feel anxiety in the afternoon but I have been worried about some things lately. I do have vivid dreams at night and feel alert in the morning — but I’ve had that before.

    If you have any comments and suggestions, please let me know!! I am a complete newbie and don’t know what I’m doing. :-)

  6. I take choline, dmae and alpha gpc combined (3 forms of choline). So that would be 700mg choline, 500mg dmae and 300mg alpha gpc, combined with 4-5 grams of paracetam. I have no trouble with it. But too bad that alpha gpc is expensive. But this is the king of choline for sure.

  7. I actually quite to my surprise, find the Piracetam powder much more effective to take without choline. Ofcourse, everyone is different but as much as I am not one to like giving negative or warnings about any substance for I don’t believe in trying to put fear in others and the reality is, the likelihood of experience any long term effects is mil to zero, using Piracetams mixed capsules with choline CDP, the source I got it from said first week 8 capsules daily. The capsules contain 800mg Piracetam so that would mean than you’d consume first week 6400 piracetam daily. The tricky part is CDP choline and Uridine which for me caused the real problem I believe. Extreme nausea, severe ear(inner and outer type pain) which felt like a very bad ear ache with pressure in them and some tinnitus. Very disconcerning and I will be calling the company that supposedly is very reputable. I stopped taking the capsules. If you bvuy racetams, choose the pure one. The powder ,not mixed with anything is my recommendatin. Never really know what is in it.

  8. Choline is positively charged which makes it really difficult to cross over the blood-brain barrier unless properly processed in the liver. Unfortunately, Choline Bitartrate supplements (which are only 40% choline to start with) are degraded before they reach the liver which is why you need a lot more of them.

    A better choice is Alpha GPC which is another natural source of choline that is even found in breast milk. It is much more available to the brain.
    Jenn recently posted..Huperzine A Reviews from Users & Research ResultsMy Profile

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