Modafinil and Choline | What You MUST Know

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modafinil and choline

Deciding whether it’s a good idea to mix Modafinil and choline together? You’re in the right place.

Choline might help if you get headaches from taking Modafinil, and these two together form a common Modafinil stack.

Modafinil is a prescription sleep disorder medication that’s also a powerful nootropic agent, meaning that it can help you to stay more focused, energized and productive.

One of the most common side effects of Modafinil use is headache, but pairing Modafinil with choline — an essential nutrient that plays a key role in brain health — can help remedy this pesky side effect.

Here’s what you need to know about using Modafinil and choline together…

Click here to order our top recommended Choline supplement!

Disclaimer: The contents of Modafinil.com are for informational and educational purposes only. We do not provide legal advice. Likewise, we do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician prior to consuming Modafinil or related nootropics. Your access to Modafinil.com is subject to our full Disclaimer and Terms of Use.

What Is Modafinil?

Modafinil is a prescription drug that’s known as a wakefulness agent. Its primary approved use is to treat daytime sleepiness in people with sleep disorders like narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder and obstructive sleep apnea [1].

However, Modafinil is also an extremely effective nootropic — helping to increase focus, productivity, energy, concentration, creativity and retention. For this reason, it’s also used by many people who are looking for a boost in these areas, like college students, business owners and high-performing professionals. In fact, more “off-label” prescriptions are given for the drug than for the sleep disorders listed above, for reasons like multiple sclerosis, depression, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [2].

modafinilo

Modafinil Benefits

Modafinil is one of the most popular nootropics because of its effectiveness. Here are the scientifically-validated benefits of Modafinil:

  • Improved energy levels: Modafinil reduces fatigue and provides long-lasting, sustained energy — even in sleep deprived individuals [3, 4, 5, 6].
  • Better memory: In healthy people and people with depression, studies have shown Modafinil helps to improve memory and learning [7, 8].
  • More focus: Modafinil improves alertness and enhances brain function, regardless of how much sleep the user has had [9, 10].
  • Lifted mood: In animal and human studies, Modafinil has been shown to improve mood, motivation and self-reported well-being [11, 12].

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What Is Choline?

Choline is a nutrient that the body needs to function correctly. It’s a component of phospholipids, compounds that line the cell membrane of every cell in the body. It’s also vital to create acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter that helps your brain send signals to the other parts of your body, and vice versa.

Choline is found in a variety of foods, but eggs and beef liver are the richest sources. According to the National Institutes of Health, most people actually don’t get enough choline in their diets — although true deficiency remains rare [13]. Luckily, several supplement options are available.

Choline Benefits

Although choline is generally not top of mind when people think of essential nutrients, it’s benefits really cannot be overstated. Here are just a few of the benefits of choline:

  • Acetylcholine production: As we mentioned above, acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter made from choline. It plays roles in memory and muscle regulation [14].
  • Cholesterol metabolism: Choline helps to metabolize cholesterol and keep it from building up in your liver [15].
  • Cell structure and function: Choline is needed to make phospholipids, which are part of your cell membranes and help to regulate what substances are allowed to pass into and out of your cells [16].

Additionally, researchers have noted that low levels of choline in red blood cells are linked to cluster headaches [17].

choline

Modafinil and Choline | What You MUST Know

Although there’s no existing research to support this use, many Modafinil users swear by choline to help reduce their headaches related to Modafinil use.

Modafinil is a powerful nootropic, but the headaches that some users experience can be enough for them to stop taking it. However, there are several ways to help combat these headaches — you can read more in our post on how to get rid of Modafinil headaches.

As nootropics users, there are several things that we do to minimize our risk of experiencing Modafinil side effects, like headaches. For example, we:

  • Stay well hydrated
  • Eat regularly, and eat a hearty meal prior to taking Modafinil
  • Get enough sleep
  • Ensure prudent Modafinil dosing
  • Do not skip exercise
  • Undertake posture correction exercises
  • Refrain from mixing Modafinil with other stimulants

And when we feel that these methods do not do enough to shake those pesky headaches, we try supplementing with magnesium, melatonin and L-theanine, which are known to help reduce tension.

Finally, if none of these remedies help with our Modafinil headaches, we turn to choline supplementation — and we do this as a last resort. As we mentioned above, there’s really no hard evidence that choline helps with Modafinil headaches — except for the small link between red blood cell choline levels and cluster headaches.

The use of choline has arisen from the several anecdotal reports from Modafinil users who have found success from choline supplementation to help manage their Modafinil headache.

One Reddit user says:

“Eating foods with choline (like eggs with the yolk) really does help, some people take supplements but honestly I found that working it into your diet keeps the headaches at bay. Modafinil and Armodafinil are notorious for this, and tons of folks swear by choline.”

According to another Reddit user:

“Your brain is utilizing more choline to increase the energy production. You need to supplement with this in order to prevent the headaches.”

If you do decide to supplement with choline, though, it’s imperative to buy the right supplement. There are several different types of choline supplements available, and typically there are only two that are advisable for Modafinil users: alpha-glyceryl phosphorylcholine (Alpha-GPC) and Citicoline.

Here’s a quick rundown of the various types of choline [18]:

  • Alpha-GPC: Alpha-GPC is a form of choline that’s found naturally in the brain and may help boost blood flow to the brain, promoting improved neurological function. It’s 40% choline by weight, and for this reason seems to be the most popular supplemental form of choline among nootropics users.
  • Citicoline: Citicoline, also known as cytidine diphosphate-choline, or CDP-choline, is a nootropic in its own right. It contains 18% choline by weight, and is a precursor to uridine, a nucleotide building block of DNA that offers many cognitive benefits.
  • Choline bitartrate: This form is the most common, and the most inexpensive, for choline supplements. It works, but Alpha-GPC and Citicoline pack a bigger punch.
  • Phosphatidylcholine: This is choline in its phospholipid form, and typically is the form of choline found naturally in foods.
  • Choline chloride: This form of choline is primarily used in animal feed. Although you can buy it on Amazon, it’s not recommended for obvious reasons.

For best results, anecdotal reports recommend taking at least 300 mg of Alpha-GPC per day. However, there appears to be wide variation in what people find helpful. Here’s what some users had to say:

“Alpha GPC is the best. 300mg or 600 if you have 50% powder.”

“I most frequently use pure choline with a dosage of 700 mg. Try adding or subtracting 100 mg to find your personal sweet spot though. For everyone this is a little different so it is a good idea to order choline as a powder, then weigh it at an accurate scale in slightly different quantities to find which dosage works best for you.”

“Vitamin B with Choline in it usually 50mg works fine.”

Note, there are few choline side effects, and it has no known interactions with Modafinil. However, it’s possible to take too much choline, and that can be associated with some extremely unpleasant side effects. Side effects of going overboard on choline include:

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Excessive saliva production
  • Low blood pressure
  • Liver toxicity
  • Fishy odor

Over the long term, high doses of choline may lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

Most adults need 425-550mg of choline daily, and to avoid potentially harmful side effects users shouldn’t take doses larger than 3,500mg/day. In fact, it’s best to steer clear of doses even that high to be on the safe side [13].

Benefits

Of course, the whole reason that many people add choline to their Modafinil routine is to eliminate Modafinil headaches.

If it works for you, then this might well be the biggest benefit to using choline.

Unfortunately, some people get headaches from Modafinil that are so severe as to completely outweigh any benefits derived from the nootropic. The headaches render them unable to work or study, eliminating any point in taking Modafinil in the first place.

However, if a relatively inexpensive choline supplement (or even getting more choline through diet, as one Redditor suggested) can help users shake these headaches, then they can reap the many benefits of Modafinil that we outlined above.

Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any downsides to choline supplementation in the doses that most Modafinil users are taking. The extra choline may even be beneficial, as most people are not getting enough.

Again, though, there’s no true evidence to support the use of choline to prevent Modafinil headache, only anecdotal reports from users. Hopefully, this will change soon and we can learn more about how Modafinil and choline interact with one another.

choline

Choline and Modafinil | Verdict

The verdict is out:

Choline might be just what you need if you’re suffering from Modafinil headaches but want to continue using the nootropic for all of the benefits it provides.

At standard supplement doses, choline is perfectly safe to take for the vast majority of people. (Alternatively, eating a few extra eggs may do the trick just as well!)

Although research is lacking, there does appear to be at least some small research link between insufficient levels of choline and headache, and many Modafinil users report great success after adding choline to their routine.

If choline works for you, then you’ll be able to continue benefiting from all the cognitive enhancement that Modafinil provides — and that’s a win in our book.

Click here to order our top recommended Choline supplement!

References

  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Modafinil. MedlinePlus website. February 15, 2016. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a602016.html
  2. Peñaloza RA, Sarkar U, Claman DM, Omachi TA. Trends in on-label and off-label modafinil use in a nationally representative sample. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(8):704-706. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.2807
  3. Pigeau R, Naitoh P, Buguet A, et al. Modafinil, d-amphetamine and placebo during 64 hours of sustained mental work. I. Effects on mood, fatigue, cognitive performance and body temperature. J Sleep Res. 1995;4(4):212-228. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.1995.tb00172.x
  4. Estrada A, Kelley AM, Webb CM, Athy JR, Crowley JS. Modafinil as a replacement for dextroamphetamine for sustaining alertness in military helicopter pilots. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2012;83(6):556-564. doi:10.3357/asem.3129.2012
  5. Jean-Pierre P, Morrow GR, Roscoe JA, et al. A phase 3 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, clinical trial of the effect of modafinil on cancer-related fatigue among 631 patients receiving chemotherapy: a University of Rochester Cancer Center Community Clinical Oncology Program Research base study. Cancer. 2010;116(14):3513-3520. doi:10.1002/cncr.25083
  6. Rammohan KW, Rosenberg JH, Lynn DJ, Blumenfeld AM, Pollak CP, Nagaraja HN. Efficacy and safety of modafinil (Provigil) for the treatment of fatigue in multiple sclerosis: a two centre phase 2 study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2002;72(2):179-183. doi:10.1136/jnnp.72.2.179
  7. Kaser M, Deakin JB, Michael A, et al. Modafinil Improves Episodic Memory and Working Memory Cognition in Patients With Remitted Depression: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2017;2(2):115-122. doi:10.1016/j.bpsc.2016.11.009
  8. Müller U, Rowe JB, Rittman T, Lewis C, Robbins TW, Sahakian BJ. Effects of modafinil on non-verbal cognition, task enjoyment and creative thinking in healthy volunteers. Neuropharmacology. 2013;64(5):490-495. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.07.009
  9. Walsh JK, Randazzo AC, Stone KL, Schweitzer PK. Modafinil improves alertness, vigilance, and executive function during simulated night shifts. Sleep. 2004;27(3):434-439. doi:10.1093/sleep/27.3.434
  10. Wesensten NJ. Effects of modafinil on cognitive performance and alertness during sleep deprivation. Curr Pharm Des. 2006;12(20):2457-2471. doi:10.2174/138161206777698819
  11. Taneja I, Haman K, Shelton RC, Robertson D. A randomized, double-blind, crossover trial of modafinil on mood. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2007;27(1):76-79. doi:10.1097/jcp.0b013e31802eb7ea
  12. Young JW, Geyer MA. Action of modafinil–increased motivation via the dopamine transporter inhibition and D1 receptors?. Biol Psychiatry. 2010;67(8):784-787. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.12.015
  13. National Institutes of Health. Choline: Health professional fact sheet. Office of Dietary Supplements website. July 10, 2020. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/
  14. Cohen EL, Wurtman RJ. Brain acetylcholine: control by dietary choline. Science. 1976;191(4227):561-562. doi:10.1126/science.1251187
  15. Blesso CN. Egg phospholipids and cardiovascular health. Nutrients. 2015;7(4):2731-2747. Published 2015 Apr 13. doi:10.3390/nu7042731
  16. Wiedeman AM, Barr SI, Green TJ, Xu Z, Innis SM, Kitts DD. Dietary Choline Intake: Current State of Knowledge Across the Life Cycle. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1513. Published 2018 Oct 16. doi:10.3390/nu10101513
  17. de Belleroche J, Cook GE, Das I, et al. Erythrocyte choline concentrations and cluster headache. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1984;288(6413):268-270. doi:10.1136/bmj.288.6413.268
  18. Brandes J. The pharmacology of smart drugs. Presentation; n.d.

Table of Contents

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