Citicoline – Dosage, Benefits & Side-effects


Citicoline is naturally present in your body cells. It can also be consumed externally as a supplement.

The major benefit of this nootropic comes from its ability to provide choline to your brain. Your brain uses choline to make – phosphatidylcholine and acetylcholine – two main chemicals with various functions.

These chemicals improve the production of nerve cells and also the transmission of signals through them. Basically, citicoline provides raw materials to your brain to improve cognitive functions.

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Interestingly, cytidine from citicoline is converted into uridine before crossing the blood-brain-barrier. Uridine improves the level of norepinephrine and dopamine. 

Overall, citicoline is a nootropic that supports both nerve and brain health. It does so while calming and relaxing your mind. Moreover, citicoline is readily available and a common ingredient of multiple nootropic supplements.

Use of citicoline – as an important ingredient in psychostimulants – is known since 1970. It is also a common component of various dietary supplements.

Citicoline is a source of choline, which is commonly present at the centre of a nootropic stack. Without optimal levels of choline in the brain, the rest of your stack may not work well.

But it is only recently that citicoline has been able to get the attention of biohackers. Various studies have proved its benefits for brain health.

So, it is not surprising that citicoline is a common ingredient in majority premium nootropics.

What is Citicoline?

Citicoline and CDP-choline are two forms of this nootropic. While CDP-choline refers to the form that is present naturally in your body cells, citicoline is taken externally. 

You can find citicoline in two forms, citicoline sodium and citicoline freebase. Citicoline sodium is a medication to treat nerve disorders available only with a prescription. Citicoline freebase, on the other hand, is a dietary supplement. (1)

Clinical studies have proven the role of citicoline in protecting against memory loss and enhancing memory.

It also improves focus, clarity of thoughts, and mental energy. Besides, it is also found effective in the treatment of various disorders, such as stroke, brain injury, and glaucoma. (2)

However, its major benefit comes from providing choline to the brain. Citicoline improves the level of acetylcholine, which is the main chemical messenger of your brain. It is responsible for regulating all your cognitive functions. (2)

Benefits of Citicoline

Citicoline is a remarkable nutrient that enhances multiple aspects of your brain and nerve health.

It boosts the functioning of phospholipids, which helps to revitalise your brain cells. Citicoline also improves the movement of signals between the brain cells. Various studies have shown that:

  • It improves memory and prevents memory loss.
  • Citicoline prevents age-related damage of your brain cells.
  • Improves memory and thus helps in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. (3)

ALCAR is also an excellent anti-depressant. It promotes the release of serotonin and noradrenaline, boosting your mood. Various studies have confirmed that:

  • It increases mental energy
  • Citicoline also fine-tunes your brain to improve attention span. (4)

Studies have also shown that it can improve concentration after major conditions such as brain injury, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Here it was seen that:

  • It improves your concentration span
  • Helps in mastering a new skill or completing a complex task. (5)

How Does Citicoline Affect the Human Brain?

The major benefit of citicoline is its ability to provide choline to your brain.

When you take a citicoline supplement, it is broken down into cytidine and choline by your body. Both cytidine and choline are rapidly absorbed by your intestines and enter your blood. They can also cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the brain. (6)

Your brain uses choline to produce two main chemicals, phosphatidylcholine and acetylcholine. (7)

Phosphatidylcholine is used to produce new nerve cells and related structures. Acetylcholine, on the other hand, boosts the transfer of signal between the nerve cells. Acetylcholine also plays an important role in many brain functions, such as muscle contraction, processing information, and memory recall. (8) (9)

Basically, citicoline provides raw material to your brain to create two important compounds that improve cell structure and mental performance.

The benefits don’t end here. In addition to choline, citicoline also provides cytidine to your body. Before crossing blood-brain-barrier cytidine is converted into uridine. (10)

Uridine is extremely important for enhancing the growth of nerve cells and boosting energy production in the brain. It also improves the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in your body. (11)

Norepinephrine lowers the effect of stress and regulates alertness and sleep. Dopamine, on the other hand, boosts the experience of pleasure and perception of reality. (12) (13)

How to Take Citicoline & Dosage?

Citicoline is water-soluble and thus can be taken with water on an empty stomach.

Ideal dosage:

Studies have shown that a total dose between 250 – 1000 mg in single or divided doses, 8-12 hours apart, are safe.

In healthy individuals, a lower dose (250 mg) is more beneficial as compared to a higher dose.

What Are The Potential Side-effects of Citicoline?

Citicoline is seen to be safe and well-tolerated. No toxic side-effects were observed in the studies even in higher doses.

Milder side-effects noticed were nausea, indigestion, diarrhoea and fatigue. It may also cause low mood and tiredness.

You can also start with a minimum dose and monitor its effect. Gradually you can adjust the dose and timing that suits you the best.

How Should You Stack Citicoline?

Citicoline works well with most nootropics. It especially works well with racetams:

  • Piracetam and CDP Choline: For enhancing cognitive functioning of your brain.
  • Pramiracetam and CDP Choline: Improves thoughts, focus, and memory.
  • Oxiracetam and CDP Choline: Boosts alertness and energy.
  • Aniracetam and CDP Choline: Enhances your cognitive functions while relaxing your mind.

Citicoline also stacks well with caffeine, DHA, and uridine monophosphate.

Final Words!

Citicoline is present in two forms. CDP-choline is naturally present in all your body cells, and citicoline is the supplement form to be taken externally.

It can cross the blood-brain-barrier and provide choline to your brain. Citicoline is thus seen to prevent changes due to age-related damage, injury, and illness. Citicoline also improves focus, mental energy, and memory.

This powerful brain booster works efficiently alone as well when compounded with other nootropics. It is safe and well-tolerated even in higher doses.

Besides, it is affordable and readily available. It is also among very few ingredients that are in medications for serious nerve-related disorders.

All in all, if you are in search of a natural supplement to boost your brainpower and prevent cognitive decline, citicoline could be a great option for you.

Last Updated On: June 23rd, 2022

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