What is a Nootropic? - Choline Bitartrate

If you want to know how to improve memory, learning, and focus with nootropics, then you want to read this guide to choline bitartrate.

 

Biohacking is one of the hottest trends these days with folks of all ages looking to increase their lifespan, cognitive function, and athletic performance. In this frenzy to optimize all aspects of the human experience, individuals have sought all manner of high-end compounds, some of which have yet to be fully vetted or certified safe in research.

 

Chief among these hot commodities are compounds known as nootropics, which can be found in everything from pre workouts to productivity supplements, and even on-the-go snack bars!

 

Touted to improve memory, learning, cognition, and even sleep, nootropics have erupted in popularity, yet many people have no idea what they are, where they come from, or what they do.

 

In this article, we’ll explain what nootropics are, what they do, and why you might not have to look too far beyond your very own refrigerator for enhanced brain function and mental clarity.

 

First, let’s start with a simple question…

 

What is a Nootropic?

 

The word “nootropic” is an umbrella term to describe a class of compounds that improve memory and learning as well as promote brain growth and health. It’s specific definition can vary a bit depending on what studies you’re reading, but generally, nootropics satisfy one or more of the following criteria:

 

  • Enhances executive functions such as memory, learning, or creative thinking, to name a few[1]

  • Works in otherwise healthy people

  • Supports brain health and promotes neuron growth

 

So, in other words, nootropics are compounds that support brain health and enhance cognitive performance.

 

Given these neurological benefits, it’s no surprise that nootropics are also called[2]:

 

  • Smart Drugs

  • Brain Boosters

  • Memory Enhancers

 

So, how do nootropics work?

 

That’s an incredibly loaded question, the answer for which would require thousands upon thousands of words.

 

You see, each nootropic has a slightly different mechanism of action. Some nootropics enhance production of different neurotransmitters, while other ones help reduce buildup of compounds that can be toxic to the brain in excessive amounts. Still others work by promoting greater cerebral blood flow.

 

So, as you can see, the answer to the question of “how do nootropics work?” is far from simple.

 

Rather than try to tackle all of the best brain boosting supplements in one article, today, we’re going to focus on a single nootropic that boosts everything from learning and memory to the mind-muscle connection.

 

That nootropic is none other than choline bitartrate.

 

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What is Choline Bitartrate?

 

Choline bitartrate is the salt form of choline commonly found in pre workouts, nootropic formulas, and multivitamins.

 

That begets the question of...

 

What is Choline and Why is it Important?

 

Choline is an essential water-soluble nutrient that plays a significant role in the health and function of cell membranes. Cell membranes are composed of phospholipids ( such as phosphatidylcholine), which support the overall structural integrity of each cell membrane.

 

Equally important is the role choline serves as the precursor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

 

Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter responsible for memory and muscle control as well as cognitive function.[2] As such, acetylcholine is important not only for learning and carrying out cognitively demanding tasks, but it also plays an integral role in workout performance due to its impact on the mind-muscle connection.[4]

 

The issue when it comes to choline, is that only around 10% of the population consume adequate choline[5], and, while the body can produce a slight amount of choline, obtaining it through the diet is paramount for health and optimal cognitive and neuromuscular performance.[6]

 

In fact, research from the The Journal of Nutrition as well as the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism have both suggested that previous recommendations for daily choline intake are insufficient for most people, meaning that you probably need more choline than you realize.

 

Those needs are increased even greater if you’re using other nootropics such as piracetam (or other racetams) that increase acetylcholine uptake and mobilization. Nootropics under the racetam category upregulate acetylcholine production and usage in the body but they don’t provide any of the substrates required to synthesize the neurotransmitter.

 

This can lead to reduced hippocampal levels of acetylcholine as well as headaches and/or brain fog.[9]

 

By supplementing with choline bitartrate, you provide your body with the essential building blocks it needs to support increased production of acetylcholine, enhancing both cognitive performance as well as athletic performance too!

 

More on the Importance of Choline and Acetylcholine

 

Acetylcholine is released in the brain as well as the neuromuscular junctions in the body, which is why it plays such a pivotal role in the mind-muscle connection. As such, choline aids signal transmission both within the brain as well as between the brain and the various systems of the body.

 

Deficiencies in choline can reduce mental energy and clarity and create an endless state of “brain fog” that makes it next to impossible to get any sort of work done. To make matters worse, acetylcholine is also heavily involved in learning and memory, and if you don’t have sufficient reserves of choline in the body, you’ll find it much more difficult to acquire new knowledge and recall it at a later day.

 

The importance of choline extends beyond cognitive well-being and function too. It has also been shown to exert some potent anti-inflammatory qualities, which helps combat chronic, systemic inflammation -- a key component in the development and progression of various diseases including cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, and a whole host of neurological disorders.

 

In other words, if optimizing brain and body function and health are a priority for you, ensuring that your choline intake is up to snuff is a no-brainer!

 

Choline is Important for Athletes, Too!

 

As important as choline is cognitive performance, it also offers tremendous benefits to athletes as well.

 

Research has noted that supplementing with choline can enhance fat loss has long been touted for its benefits in improving mood and focus during workouts, but it also offers so much more!  Choline has been shown to aid in fat loss and exercise endurance.[8,10,11,12,13,14]

The manner in which choline supplementation enhances fat loss is with regard to its synergism with carnitine. More specifically, supplementing with choline increases carnitine retention in the body, which promotes longer-lasting fat burning.

 

This is one of the many reasons why our Cardio Stack of Ape Shit pre workout and Pyretic is so effective. Stacking these two products brings together the powerful combination of choline + carnitine for better fat oxidation.


To up the ante of the importance of choline for athletes even further, intense and repeated bouts of exercise can drain your choline stores, thereby decreasing the concentration of acetylcholine circulating throughout your body. Not only does this lead to a reduction in your ability to focus, but also hinders the quality of your muscle contractions.

 

As such, supplementing with choline should be a chief priority for any athlete who trains like savage, and that’s why we’ve included choline bitartrate in our family of pre workout supplements.

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Benefits of Choline Bitartrate

Supports memory and learning

 

The importance of choline for the brain has been pretty heavily studied by researchers. It’s essential for hippocampal development, and in case you weren’t aware, the hippocampus is the region of the brain most heavily associated with memory, in particular long-term memory.

 

As such, it stands to reason that supplementing with choline would improve one’s memory.[16,17]

 

Improves cognition

 

Higher choline intake has been associated with better cognitive performance and lower rates of white-matter hyperintensity since the 1930s.[18] Subsequent research has further explored the benefits of choline in regards to cognitive function, and confirmed these findings.[6,16,17]

 

Basically, if you want your brain to be be firing on all 10 cylinders, prioritizing choline intake is a must.

 

Energizes the Mind

 

In addition to its ability to enhance memory and learning, acetylcholine may also exert somewhat of a stimulative effect in your brain. Your brain uses acetylcholine to transmit signals from one neuron to another, and by having more choline around, you’ll be able to more efficiently produce acetylcholine, allowing for “clearer” communication within the body and supporting better learning, memory, and focus.

 

Enhances Exercise Performance

 

We mentioned this up top, but one of the most underrated benefits of choline bitartrate lies in its ability to improve physical performance, especially regarding endurance exercise.

How so?


High intensity exercise depletes the body’s choline reserves, which results in decreased performance.[20]

 

By supplementing with a bioavailable form of choline (such as choline bitartrate), you can increase levels of choline in the body, which by default, would lead to an increase in performance.[8]

 

Dietary Sources of Choline

 

Choline is naturally occurring and can be found in the following foods[21]:

 

  • Egg yolks

  • Beef

  • Fish

  • Beans

  • Spinach

  • Peanuts

 

Choline Bitartrate Dosage

 

If you consume a well-rounded diet, rich in the aforementioned whole foods, you should have more than enough choline to meet your daily needs. If, however, you eat less than a stellar diet, or train intensely several times a week, you might have difficulty satisfying your choline requirements through diet alone.


Should you fall into this category, you’d be well-served to grab an effective choline supplement in the form of choline bitartrate.

 

The recommended dose of choline bitartrate is 1-2 grams per day.

 

This dose helps bolster choline reserves in the body, supporting greater acetylcholine production, and with it better memory, learning, and performance.

 

Best Choline Bitartrate Supplements

 

Given the power and importance choline plays in the mental and physical, we’ve included a robust dose of choline bitartrate in each of our pre workout formulas, including:

 

 

Takeaway

 

Choline is an essential nutrient for brain and muscle function that far too many of us are lacking. It plays a pivotal role in memory, learning, and cognition as well as supports your muscles ability to fire properly during training.

 

Choline also helps protect against inflammation, further underscoring its importance in health and longevity.

 

So, if you want to perform at your peak both mentally and physically, supplementing with choline bitartrate is a no-brainer, and if you’re ready to see what choline bitartrate can do for your performance, you need look no further than our complete arsenal of pre workouts.

 

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References

  1. Diamond A. Executive Functions. Annual review of psychology. 2013;64:135-168. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143750.

  2. Suliman NA, Mat Taib CN, Mohd Moklas MA, Adenan MI, Hidayat Baharuddin MT, Basir R. Establishing Natural Nootropics: Recent Molecular Enhancement Influenced by Natural Nootropic. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2016;2016:4391375. doi:10.1155/2016/4391375.

  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=10198924, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/10198924

  4. Diamond I, Franklin GM, Milfay D. The relationship of choline acetyltransferase activity at the neuromuscular junction to changes in muscle mass and function. The Journal of Physiology. 1974;236(1):247-257.

  5. Gossell-Williams, M., & Benjamin, J. (2006). Choline: are our university students eating enough? The West Indian Medical Journal, 55(3), 197–199.

  6. Coreyann Poly, Joseph M Massaro, Sudha Seshadri, Philip A Wolf, Eunyoung Cho, Elizabeth Krall, Paul F Jacques, Rhoda Au; The relation of dietary choline to cognitive performance and white-matter hyperintensity in the Framingham Offspring Cohort, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 94, Issue 6, 1 December 2011, Pages 1584–1591, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.110.008938

  7. Shin W, Yan J, Abratte CM, Vermeylen F, Caudill MA. Choline Intake Exceeding Current Dietary Recommendations Preserves Markers of Cellular Methylation in a Genetic Subgroup of Folate-Compromised Men. The Journal of Nutrition. 2010;140(5):975-980. doi:10.3945/jn.110.121186.

  8. Penry, J. T., & Manore, M. M. (2008). Choline: an important micronutrient for maximal endurance-exercise performance? International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 18(2), 191–203.

  9. Wurtman, R. J., Magil, S. G., & Reinstein, D. K. (1981). Piracetam diminishes hippocampal acetylcholine levels in rats. Life Sciences, 28(10), 1091–1093.

  10. Elsawy, Gehan, Osama Abdelrahman, and Amr Hamza. Effect of Choline Supplementation on Rapid Weight Loss and Biochemical Variables Among Female Taekwondo and Judo Athletes. J Hum Kinet 40 (2014)

  11. Naber M, Hommel B, Colzato LS. Improved human visuomotor performance and pupil constriction after choline supplementation in a placebo-controlled double-blind study. Scientific Reports. 2015;5:13188. doi:10.1038/srep13188. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4536529/

  12. Elsawy G, Abdelrahman O, Hamza A. Effect of Choline Supplementation on Rapid Weight Loss and Biochemical Variables Among Female Taekwondo and Judo Athletes. Journal of Human Kinetics. 2014;40:77-82. doi:10.2478/hukin-2014-0009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4096089/

  13. Dodson WL, Sachan DS. Choline supplementation reduces urinary carnitine excretion in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996;63(6):904-910. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8644685

  14. Hongu N, Sachan DS. Carnitine and choline supplementation with exercise alter carnitine profiles, biochemical markers of fat metabolism and serum leptin concentration in healthy women. J Nutr. 2003;133(1):84-89. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/1/84.long

  15. Daily JW 3rd, Sachan DS. Choline supplementation alters carnitine homeostasis in humans and guinea pigs. J Nutr. 1995;125(7):1938-1944. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7616311

  16. The fetal origins of memory: the role of dietary choline in optimal brain development, SH Zeisel, J Pediatr. 2006 Nov;149(5 Suppl):S131-6 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17212955

  17. Choline: needed for normal development of memory, SH Zeisel, J Am Coll Nutr. 2000 Oct;19(5 Suppl):528S-531S http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11023003

  18. The relation of dietary choline to cognitive performance and white-matter hyperintensity in the Framingham Offspring Cohort, C Poly et al., Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Dec;94(6):1584-91. doi: 10.3945 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22071706

  19. Choline and choline-related compounds are associated with cognitive performance and cerebrovascular pathology in older adults, A Roe et al., April 2014, The FASEB Journal,vol. 28 no. 1, Supplement 135.5, http://www.fasebj.org/content/28/1_Supplement/135.5

  20. Jäger, R., Purpura, M., & Kingsley, M. (2007). Phospholipids and sports performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4(1), 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-4-5

  21. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/