CDP Choline, also known as citicoline or cytidine diphosphate choline, is a powerful nootropic supplement best known for its ability to enhance memory and protect the brain against memory loss. But an improved memory is only part of the CDP choline picture; it can also heighten focus, increase mental energy, and provide better clarity of thought.

Recent studies indicate that it may even be a useful treatment for a host of medical problems, ranging from head injuries, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases to glaucoma, attention deficit disorder, and even cocaine dependency.‍[1]

For nootropic users, one of the most interesting aspects of supplementing with a choline source such as CDP Choline is its ability to amplify and enhance the effects of other nootropic supplements. It works synergistically with racetam class nootropics, significantly potentiating the effects of memory boosters such as piracetam and pramiracetam while preventing the minor but annoying headaches that are common side effects associated with racetam supplementation.

CDP choline, along with alpha GPC and centrophenoxine, is considered the most useful choline supplements for nootropics purposes.

Benefits and Effects

CDP choline is a powerful nootropic supplement that potentiates other nootropics and works on its own to enhance many aspects of cognition and brain health:

  • Memory Enhancement: CDP Choline is perhaps best known for its ability to improve memory and prevent memory loss. It is frequently associated with anti-aging and has been studied as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.‍[2]
  • Increased Mental Energy: Maintaining peak mental energy is important for everyone, from students facing exams to older people suffering from the mental slow-down often associated with aging. Clinical trials have shown that CDP Choline has a significant positive effect on mental energy, increasing frontal lobe bioenergetics and mitigating the cognitive declines associated with aging.‍[3]
  • Better Focus and Concentration: CDP choline can increase the ability to concentrate for longer periods with less distraction, an essential for studying, mastering a new skill, or completing any complex and mentally demanding task. Studies show that this is true even in the case of serious conditions including stroke, brain injury, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • ‍[4]
  • Potentiating and Amplifying Other Nootropics: Many nootropic users consider CDP choline a must-have when constructing any stack or combination of supplements. An outstanding choline source, it works particularly well with racetam class nootropics, making their effects stronger and at the same time preventing the minor headache that is sometimes associated with racetams. It has been shown to delay the onset of cognitive deterioration in Alzheimer’s disease when used in combination with piracetam.‍[5]

How It Works

CDP choline is a psychostimulant nootropic that works in several ways: it restores and repairs neuronal membranes,‍[6] it increases the levels of dopamine in the central nervous system,‍[7] and it enhances the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.‍[8] Its mechanisms of action have been extensively studied, and unlike those of many nootropics, CDP choline’s actions and processes are well understood.

On absorption CDP choline splits into choline and cytidine and disperses throughout the body, crossing the blood-brain barrier and entering the central nervous system. The cytidine is converted into uridine, a nucleotide base that is crucial to neural membrane synthesis and is believed to enhance cognition. The released choline acts as a cholinergic, increasing levels of choline in the brain.

Interaction with Racetam Class Nootropics
CDP choline’s post-absorption action as a cholinergic makes it an ideal complement to racetam nootropics, which draw heavily on choline for their brain-enhancing functions.

Choline is the precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is absolutely crucial to many aspects of cognitive function, particularly learning and memory. Racetam class nootropics like piracetam are considered acetylcholine agonists, compounds that increase the production and release of acetylcholine by stimulating the appropriate neurotransmitter receptor sites.

When sufficient choline is present, the increased production and release of acetylcholine creates significant cognitive enhancements, ranging from better memory to better focus, clearer thought, faster recall, and even enhanced sensory perceptions. But when choline supplies in the brain are insufficient the effect of racetam supplements is significantly diminished. Additionally, the minor but annoying headaches that are occasionally associated with racetam use are mainly attributable to insufficient choline.

For these reasons, many nootropic users consider CDP choline a must when assembling a stack that includes racetams. Each is a powerful brain enhancer on its own, but together they’re far more potent than either one could be on their own.


A daily cumulative dose of anywhere from 250 to 1000 mg, either in a single dose or in two doses 8 to 12 hours apart, is generally considered safe and effective.

Because CDP choline is so well tolerated, a wide range of doses have been documented without the appearance of significant side effects.

Interestingly, an MIT study shows that the effects a dose of 4000 mg were not measurably different from those of a 2000 mg dose, which seems to indicate there is little value in taking very high doses.‍[9]

CDP choline is available in both capsule and powder form. It is water soluble, and as much as 95% of an oral dose is absorbed by the body.


For nootropics users, one of the most important aspects of CDP choline is its value as a potentiator for other nootropics. This is especially true for racetams, which really shine when paired with CDP choline. The ratios and actual dosages vary depending on which of the racetam class nootropics you use. Here are some example stack ideas to get you started.

Piracetam and CDP Choline Stack

Good for overall cognitive enhancement, with neither stimulant nor calming properties.

1x per day

Pramiracetam and CDP Choline Stack

Similar to the piracetam stack, but the racetam component is considerably stronger (pramiracetam is 10 or more times as powerful as piracetam) so lower doses are needed to achieve optimal effect. When taken with CDP choline, pramiracetam’s cognitive enhancements, which include improvement of memory, thought clarity, focus, and sensory perception, will be potentiated. This stack creates neither stimulant nor calming effects.

1x–2x per day

Oxiracetam and CDP Choline Stack

This powerful and popular racetam, sometimes referred to as the “speedy racetam,” combines the cognitive enhancements of piracetam with a major boost in energy, alertness, and wakefulness. This stack has a marked stimulant effect and could potentially interfere with sleep if taken late in the day.

1x–2x per day

Aniracetam and CDP Choline Stack

Aniracetam boosts cognitive abilities while creating a relaxing and sedative-like effect. This stack has a noticeable calming effect.

1x–2x per day

CDP Choline Stack for Universal Cognitive Enhancement

For a preformulated nootropic that contains a blend of 11 cognitive enhancing supplements, including CDP choline, designed to optimize a wide array of cognitive functions, we recommend Mind Lab Pro.

Mind Lab Pro’s strategy aims at all aspects of memory, mental performance, mood and stress resistance, and brain repair, and maintenance. Their combination of nootropics is designed to affect brain energy, neurotransmitters, brain blood flow, brain waves, neuroprotection, and regeneration.

Read our Mind Lab Pro review for a detailed overview.

Side Effects

Clinical trials and studies indicate that CDP choline has no documented serious side effects, even at high doses.‍[10]

Toxicological tests have shown that it has no serious effects on the cholinergic system and it is perfectly tolerated, characteristics that make it suitable for the treatment of a variety of diseases, traumas, and disorders.

Indigestion, headache, insomnia, and diarrhea have infrequently been reported as possible side effects.

No studies on the effect on pregnant women have been completed, so those who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to refrain from using CDP choline.

Where to Buy

We recommend buying CDP choline from as they are a trusted supplier of nootropics. All their products are tested for purity by 3rd party laboratories to ensure purity.

If you prefer to do your shopping on Amazon, make sure to choose high-quality products, such as Double Wood Supplements CDP Choline Capsules.

Alternatively, if you’d like to take a supplement that contains a blend of 11 cognitive enhancing nootropics, including CDP choline, we recommend Mind Lab Pro. Read our Mind Lab Pro review for a detailed overview.

Closing Thoughts

CDP choline is an excellent addition to any nootropic user’s supplement regimen. On its own, it’s a proven memory enhancer, known to improve recall and prevent against memory loss related to aging, illness, and injury.

It provides increased mental energy, better focus, and clearer thought. In combination with other nootropics it’s a powerful potentiator, and when stacked with racetams in particular it creates synergistic effects that take cognitive enhancement to a level that neither supplement could reach without the other.

Clinically tested and studied for decades, CDP choline has been shown to be extremely well tolerated even at high doses, though high doses are not necessary to achieving optimal results. There are no documented serious side effects and it’s approved for medical treatment in both Europe and Japan.

CDP choline is an affordable, readily available supplement that has a strong and growing following among nootropic users. If you want to get the most from your nootropic stacks, CDP choline is a choline source worth trying.

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Planning to start a new supplementation regimen? See our medical disclaimer.

This page was last updated on November 21, 2018.