If you’re familiar with nootropics, you probably know what a useful tool they can be for working with our neurotransmitters. It’s just as likely that if you’re interested in nootropics, herbs, and supplements that you are interested in learning to use these tools to help boost your cognition, improve your memory, and help you focus.
A powerful neurotransmitter called acetylcholine is produced within our bodies to assist the nervous system. It’s especially concentrated in areas of the brain related to learning and memory and is one of the fastest ways to help you feel sharper and think more clearly. In order for the body to make acetylcholine, it has to rely on two of its building blocks that are present within the body: acetyl coenzyme A and choline. You can take in choline from dietary sources such as certain whole grains, fruits, vegetables, eggs, poultry, legumes, and nuts; but sometimes your body uses up more choline than it is receiving.
When your levels of choline are low, your levels of acetylcholine become low, too. Low levels of acetylcholine cause a range of cognitive impairments from learning and memory difficulties, while the most severe deficiencies can cause neurodegenerative diseases. Supplemental choline can be a great choice to ensure that your brain is receiving enough choline to make the essential neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, and there are many popular supplements known as "cholinergics" that can help you replenish your stores of choline.
A lesser known (but potent!) cholinergic is called Uridine Monophosphate, a small nucleotide with a big job. It helps to enhance the building of choline within the body. It plays a complicated role in the synthesis of choline which leads to a further synthesis for a type of choline called phosphocholine.
Neurons can directly use the phosphocholine to find choline from which they can then synthesize much needed acetylcholine. In addition to boosting the supply of choline available in the body to be used in its final step as acetylcholine, Uridine is also part of the synthesis of phospholipids. Phospholipids are part of each cell’s membrane and help keep a healthy barrier between what should be in the cell versus what should not.
With so many ways that the body uses Uridine, it’s surprising to learn that Uridine is available to us mostly only as infants through human breast milk. After infancy, the liver begins to make Uridine. Some researchers believe that Uridine can be found in some types of vegetables (cruciferous ones like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower). Some types of fermented beer contain trace amounts of Uridine as well.