Both citicoline and alpha GPC are effective in improving memory and accelerating learning. But, you may find it difficult to determine which one would work best for you. By comparing the benefits and method of action of each supplement, you can make a well-informed decision.

Method of Action

Although both the nootropics achieve the same goal of ensuring acetylcholine abundance in the body, alpha GPC and citicoline significantly differ in terms of their respective methods of action. While citicoline functions as an intermediate to acetylcholine, alpha GPC works as a synthetic precursor to acetylcholine.

By freeing up choline for synthesis, citicoline aims to increase acetylcholine levels within the body. It further helps in restoring phospholipid levels that eventually become depleted. It should be noted that depleted phospholipid levels tend to result in cognitive decline. On the contrary, alpha GPC works by mimicking choline effects for producing acetylcholine. In fact, alpha GPC is deemed more effective than choline at acetylcholine conversion because of its exceptional chemical properties


The two nootropics have positive effects on the brain’s function and overall mental health. By enhancing acetylcholine levels, these nootropics address cholinergic deficiency. In fact, both alpha GPC and citicoline benefit individuals with choline or acetylcholine deficiencies.

The unique properties of citicoline cause it to affect the functioning of the dopamine transporter (DAT) while influencing dopamine release. Unlike alpha GPC, citicoline may positively affect dopaminergic neurons, which eventually leads to improvements in attention and focus.

Alpha GPC is known to improve cognitive function in individuals with damaged cholinergic systems like brain trauma sufferers or Alzheimer’s patients. Moreover, this nootropic triggers the release of essential human growth releasing hormones that further leads to natural HGH release. Natural human growth hormone plays an important role in repairing body tissue while stimulating the immune system.

It is important to note that both the nootropics have “anti-aging” effects on the nervous system. However, alpha GPC is better suited as a post workout choline replenishment supplement since it tends to activate the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system, while citicoline serves as a stimulatory agent, making it a suitable option for enhanced focus and drive.


The use of both alpha GPC and citicoline is considered highly safe, particularly when used in their recommended amounts. Neither alpha GPC nor citicoline carry risk of causing addiction or toxic reactions. Having limited interactions, citicoline serves as a neuroprotective agent as well.

It is important to note that the two nootropics have very few, mild side effects that are usually experienced by sensitive individuals. However, a majority of these side effects can be avoided by reducing the dosage. Headaches and upset stomach are common side effects associated with the use of both nootropics.

It has been observed that cholinergic hyperactivity can lead to mood problems and abnormally high acetylcholine levels are related to depression. This makes depression a possible outcome of the over-dosage of both alpha GPC and citicoline. Alpha GPC may cause heartburn, rash, confusion or insomnia in sensitive individuals whereas citicoline may lead to nausea.


Both alpha GPC and citicoline are known to enhance the advantages of other nootropics, particularly the racetams. Citicoline stacks quite well with many cholinergics, particularly with racetam nootropics. This happens because citicoline tends to facilitate enhanced acetylcholine demand, which results in fewer side effects as compared to choline supplementation. Furthermore, citicoline stacks well with ACh inhibitors, particularly in individuals experiencing cholinergic deficiency. However, in other cases, this stack may lead to increased side effects.

The synergetic effects of alpha GPC are best observed when stacked with a racetam. For potentiating the effects, alpha GPC is typically stacked with cholinergic racetams. Racetams are known to increase the acetylcholine demand while alpha GPC facilitates the replenishment of these amounts without causing choline overload in the brain. It is typically believed that excessive choline can cause headaches and therefore, stacking with alpha GPC may reduce the possibility of experiencing such side effects. However, it is important to note that it is still a disputable claim.


While alpha GPC and citicoline greatly differ in terms of the method of action, the two share several similar nootropic effects. Both the nootropics enhance brain function by improving acetylcholine levels.  Neuroprotection has been observed in both as well. Alpha GPC and citicoline are equally effective in preventing aging. In fact, the two have very few, mild side effects.

At the end of the day, the decision of determining the better option between the two nootropics boils down to personal choice. Because each individual responds differently to these acetylcholine sources, the best strategy would be testing each of them out. Consider starting with any one of the two for several weeks before switching. Lastly, it is important to make sure that you have the most beneficial combination in your stack.