Boosting Brain Power: My Experience with Citicoline

Have you ever sensed your brain 'slowing down' as the years march on? Perhaps you've noticed that your once sharp mind now feels ever-so-slightly dulled by time. If so, you're not alone. I found myself in a similar situation recently, especially as I tried to wean off my caffeine reliance, craving an alternative to that quick jolt of mental clarity. The answer seemed elusive until I stumbled upon an intriguing suggestion on the Chewjitsu Podcast – Citicoline. Could this be the secret to reigniting my cognitive fire? 


“Nectar,” an injectable blend of L-Carnitine and Citicoline, was hailed as a potent neuroprotective brew. But injecting anything is a line I wasn’t willing to cross.

The idea of Citicoline stuck with me. I delved into research, curious if this compound could truly offer the mental boost I sought. In this journey of discovery, I aim to explore whether Citicoline is a viable path to restoring some of that much-missed cognitive edge.

a close up of a human brain on a white background

The Science Behind Citicoline: What Research Says

Citicoline, also known as CDP-choline, has piqued the interest of researchers for its potential neuroprotective effects. Fundamentally, Citicoline is a precursor to phosphatidylcholine, a critical component of cell membranes, and is involved in synthesising acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter vital for memory and cognitive function. 

Animal studies have hinted at Citicoline’s ability to counteract beta-amyloid deposition, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Though much of the research is still preliminary, these findings indicate a possible role in mitigating neurodegenerative conditions (Conant, 2004). 

Citicoline has been shown to improve cognitive function in 60% of older adults

What about humans? A standout study involving healthy volunteers (N=40) demonstrated noteworthy changes in cognitive performance after a two-week regimen of 500 mg of Citicoline daily. Compared to a placebo group, there were significant improvements in processing speed, working memory, and vigilance. Furthermore, serum malondialdehyde levels, which tend to rise during mental exertion, were reduced in those taking Citicoline (Fioravanti, 2005). 

A Cochrane meta-analysis encompassing clinical trials from the 1970s to 2003 corroborated these positive findings. The analysis revealed that Citicoline supplements provided benefits for short—to medium-term memory and behavioural measures. Specifically, the effect size for memory measures was 0.19, and the odds ratio for a positive Global Clinical Impression was 8.89 (Fioravanti, 2005). 

Attention span improved by 14% in individuals taking Citicoline

The mechanisms underpinning Citicoline’s potential efficacy make it a compelling candidate for cognitive enhancement. By increasing brain choline levels and fostering the production of acetylcholine, it supports memory formation and cognitive function. Moreover, its non-toxic nature and presence in the human body naturally bolster its safety profile, making it a viable option for those looking to augment their cognitive health.

My First Week with Citicoline: Expectations vs Reality

I embarked on my Citicoline journey with a sense of cautious optimism. Knowing that this compound was touted for its neuroprotective effects and potential to enhance cognitive function, I couldn’t help but be interested in the purported benefits. But theories and studies are one thing—seeing real-world results is another. With 500 mg capsules in hand, I set out to see if Citicoline would live up to the hype in my life. 

On the first day, I took my dose with breakfast and prepared myself for any immediate effects. To my surprise, the initial day passed without any remarkable changes. No sudden clarity or bursts of energy. However I reminded myself that supplements often require time to unfold their benefits. 

Citicoline has neuroprotective effects, reducing brain cell damage by 20%

By the middle of the week, I noted subtle yet measurable changes in my mental state. My ability to stay focused during extended tasks seemed to improve, and my memory recall felt a touch sharper. This was particularly noticeable during my evening training, where I felt more ‘in the zone,’ maintaining my concentration better than usual. 

Throughout the week, I paid close attention to any side effects. Fortunately, I didn’t experience any adverse reactions—a relief considering my concerns about introducing a new supplement. Buoyed by these positive signs, I was eager to see if these benefits would continue to build in the coming weeks. 

All in all, my first week with Citicoline proved to be encouraging. While the changes were subtle, I felt a quiet yet promising cognitive clarity and focus shift. It convinced me to continue my experiment and remain hopeful for more pronounced improvements.

Side Effects and Precautions: My Citicoline Experience

My curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to delve deeper into the potential side effects and precautions associated with Citicoline. Despite the promising benefits, it’s essential to approach any supplement with a well-informed mindset. 

First, I was relieved that Citicoline is naturally present in the human body and is generally considered nontoxic. This was reassuring as it suggested a lower likelihood of severe adverse reactions. Furthermore, research consistently indicated that Citicoline was well tolerated, with fewer adverse events than placebos in various studies. For instance, an important study by Jeong in 2021 highlighted that out of 814 patients, only 13 adverse events were reported with Citicoline, compared to 28 with the placebo. 

Citicoline is a naturally occurring compound found in the brain

However, that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing. While major side effects are rare, common ones such as headaches, digestive disturbances, and insomnia have been noted. In my own experience, I was fortunate – the side effects were minimal.

Another paramount consideration is the dosage. Numerous clinical trials say daily doses typically range between 250 mg to 2,000 mg. I started with a conservative 500 mg daily dose, as recommended by most sources for beginners.

person holding white cigarette stick

Final Thoughts: Is Citicoline Worth the Hype?

Having experienced Citicoline, I am considering whether it lives up to the hype I initially fell for. The research certainly points towards beneficial effects on cognitive functions like memory, processing speed, and vigilance. Studies involving healthy volunteers and various patient demographics have shown significant improvements in these areas, which is promising. 

The first week with Citicoline was mostly about adjusting and setting realistic expectations. I aimed to see if it could replace some of the ‘edge’ that reducing my caffeine intake left. While my experience wasn’t entirely mind-blowing, I did notice subtle improvements in my mental clarity and focus, particularly during tasks that required sustained attention. 

The brain is the most complex thing in the universe, and it is the thing that got us here.
– David Eagleman

While my journey was largely positive, individual experiences with Citicoline can vary significantly. Some users might see more pronounced effects, while the changes might be minimal for others. Therefore, it’s crucial to approach Citicoline as a supplement rather than a miracle cure. Consistency, along with realistic expectations, can make a difference here. 

I had minimal Side effects, although I remained vigilant about any unusual reactions. Based on my experience and the available research, Citicoline appears to be a well-tolerated supplement. However, it’s always wise to consult a healthcare professional before adding any new supplement to your routine. 

So, is Citicoline worth the hype? In my view, it can be. Citicoline is worth considering if you’re looking for a potential boost to your cognitive functions and are okay with the idea of subtle, gradual improvements rather than instant results. For those curious to explore its benefits, it may provide the slight edge you want as you strive to keep your brain sharp.