Cholinergics refer to any compounds that can raise the level of choline or acetylcholine in your brain. Cholinergics can generally be broken up into two categories. In one category, cholinergic compounds like alpha-GPC and choline L-bitartrate add more choline to your system. Other cholinergic compounds actively inhibit the breakdown and recycling of acetylcholine, thereby increasing its availability in the body.
How Do Cholinergic Capsules Work
Cholinergic capsules directly affect the amount of choline and acetylcholine in your body. Choline is considered a macronutrient that plays a key role in a variety of physiological processes, including muscle movement, brain development, metabolism and transportation of fats and lipids, and nerve function. Choline is often grouped in the B vitamin complex family for its close interactions with B vitamins, especially folic acid (vitamin B9).
Choline is naturally found in your body in the form of phosphatidylcholine, a specialized fat molecule. However, it can also be found in certain foods, including eggs, poultry, fish, dairy products, cruciferous vegetables, and peanuts and other legumes.
Choline is a direct precursor to acetylcholine and it is the most abundant neurotransmitter in the body. Acetylcholine is often referred to as the learning neurotransmitter because of its intrinsic role in the development of memories, recalling those memories, and the general learning process.
Cholinergic Uses and Benefits
Cholinergic benefits come from the increase in choline and acetylcholine. Choline and acetycholine are important compounds involved in cognitive function. Studies found that choline supports optimal brain development and can influence cognitive functions as a person matures. Studies in rats also found that choline supplementation led to offspring with higher IQ, while elderly rats who took choline showed less decline in cognitive performance, suggesting that choline may protect the brain and prevent age-related damage.
Acetylcholine improves the quality and frequency of signals passed throughout your body by increasing theta waves. Theta waves are a type of signal responsible for storing and retrieving long-term information and memories. By increasing the speed of theta waves, acetylcholine may potentially improve memory formation and recall. The neurotransmitter also supports the growth and development of synapses in the brain, further improving memory encoding.
Acetylcholine also allows for greater neuroplasticity, which is your brain’s ability to reorganize itself, allowing you to learn and better adapt to your environment. It’s suggested that, by improving neuroplasticity, acetylcholine may help in cases of ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, and other disorders related to learning and memory.
Many cholinergics also offer potential benefits outside of what you might expect. Choline can actually aid in liver health and may reverse fatty liver disease. Other cholinergic compounds may prevent the build-up of lipofuscin, a pigment compound that contributes to the wear and tear of cells as you age.