Citicoline: A Possible Alzheimer’s Treatment

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

A few small studies have found that supplementation with citicoline, a choline derivative, may be useful to limit neurologic damage in stroke patients. Citicoline occurs naturally in the body as part of cell membranes. 

Because no randomized control trials have been conducted, it remains unclear whether citicoline could be used in the treatment of dementias. Still, the initial positive findings and anecdotal reports indicate that further study on citicoline is warranted.

“Citicoline, or CDP-choline, is a nutritional supplement that is made up of choline, an essential nutrient and cytidine, that may offer protection from cell damage and enhance brain function,” said Melissa Goddeau, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Care of Rochester, PLLC in Pittsford. “Choline works closely with folate to support cell structure, cell communication and neurological functions.”

Good dietary sources of choline include organ meats, wheat germ, eggs, chicken, salmon, shrimp, oysters and roasted soybeans. While Goddeau favors food sources of nutrients, supplementation may be helpful for some people and safe, if approved by their primary care provider.

To support good brain health, Goddeau recommends including in a balanced diet foods that control inflammation, like sources of omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish, ground flaxseed, walnuts and soybeans.

“Antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, coffee and tea improve cognitive functioning,” she added. “Red apples with skins, onions, blueberries, cranberries and strawberries all contain a compound called quercetin, which may protect against brain cell damage.”

Marge Pickering-Picone, nutritional coach specializing in vitamins and supplements and founder and CEO of Professional Nutrition Services of Rochester, Inc., has worked with people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“We’ve help them remain stable, where they were, instead of further declining,” Pickering-Picone said. “We use Cognitex products. Cholines are a main piece.”

She uses a combination of supplemental nutrients for supporting brain health, as consuming enough through food sources is tough for most people. Organ meats, like liver and chicken gizzard, are two examples of less common but rich sources of these foods.

In addition to the omega-3 rich foods, she encourages clients to include in their diets green tea, dark chocolate, blueberries, green leafy vegetables, olive oil, eggs and avocadoes to support brain health.

Gregg Deutschbein, staff member of Lori’s Natural Foods Center in Rochester, said that following the MIND diet and Mediterranean diet is good for brain health.

“These focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grain, low fat, little to no dairy,” he said. “Those not only help keep blood pressure normal but help the brain. They’re rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. They protect us cell by cell and preserve delicate systems in the nervous system and the brain.”

In addition to citicoline, helpful supplements and herbs include lion’s mane mushrooms, ginkgo biloba, bacopa, phosphatidylserine and acetyl l-carnitine.

He urges clients to contact their healthcare provider before making dietary changes and/or adding supplements to their regimen.

“I lean things towards diet and lifestyle and working with pharmacist and doctors to work on appropriate supplementation,” Deutschbein said.

He added that regular exercise, staying socially engaged, enjoying hobbies and managing stress complement a healthful diet for promoting brain health.