This neurotransmitter is found all over your brain and body, it is responsible for many of the daily automatic tasks you do every day, from blinking your eyes to taking memory from short term to long term storage. Every movement made and thought you have, is dependent on the normal production and activity of this neurotransmitter.

Here are some symptoms of inadequate activity:

Loss of visual and photographic memory

Loss of verbal memory

Memory Lapses

Impaired Creativity

Loss of Comprehension

Difficulty with calculating numbers

Difficulty with object and face recognition

Slow mental response

Difficulty with directions and spatial orientation

All of the above symptoms can be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and should be addressed as promptly as possible.



Someone that can recall their high school graduation and cannot remember what they had for lunch an hour ago, has memory lapses mid sentence and forgets what you were talking about, hems and haws all the time searching for words that are on the tip of their tongue, loses their car in the lot, is a prime example of these early degenerative processes.

Once you start losing long term memories, the disease has progressed too far and there is little likelihood that there will be any stalling or improving and you now have the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

One of the common symptoms of inadequate acetylcholine production is loss of visual memory. You can’t remember or learn from what you just read, can’t keep track of where you left your keys or lose things all the time, or remember a person’s name when you see them. All of these activities require that the brain form an image to store in the visual centers and then retrieve it and it is failing.

Then there is also loss of verbal memory, which leads to an inability to retrieve words. You forget what you were talking about in the middle of the conversation, you cannot think of a word you need, you are unable to come up with ideas to create anything new, cannot comprehend what is told to you or what you read, and are unable to perform calculations with numbers.

Overall mental processing slows down, like when you see someone that drives slowly on the freeway because they cannot process all the stimulation and then respond in ways that allow them to drive efficiently and safely.

Spatial orientation also vanishes since the part of the brain (the hippocampus) that is responsible deteriorates and then you get lost all the time. You cannot remember which side of the parking lot you entered into and which direction you should go next. You begin forgetting even familiar routes and cannot find your way home. So now you drive slowly and cannot find your way home due to confusion.

These are all signs of early Alzheimer’s. “senior moments” are NOT to be ignored. You must do something right away to prevent and stall this kind of degenerating process especially in people that are ages 10-50. You do not want to wait until you cannot remember the name of your family members to get a diagnosis and implement strategies.  It’s TOO LATE!

Supplemental compounds that improve Acetylcholine production will reduce the symptoms and improve memory even without these symptoms. These compounds will promote the formation of neuron branches in the acetycholine pathways, which are known to improve memory well into old age in healthy brains.

The compounds not only provide the necessary building blocks for acetylcholine, they also prevent the formation of plaques associated with the development of Alzheimer’s, and slow down the breakdown of acetylcholine.

This neurotransmitter is not ruled by homotropic modulation, so you can never have too much acetylcholine to cause desensitization of the receptor, in fact, the more they are exposed to this neurotransmitter the more sensitive they become to it, requiring less and less over time to achieve the same effect.

Nutrients for improved Acetylcholine activity:
L-Huperzine A– derived from club moss reduces the breakdown and increases the levels.
Improves memory, cognition, and prevention of Alzheimer’s.

Alpha GPC (L-alpha-glyceylphophorylcholine)- This is derived from lecithin. This form of choline is easily absorbed in the gut and crosses the BBB with ease, where the brain can make acetylcholine. These increase cognitive ability in Alzheimer’s patients and slow down the progression of the disease. Also know to help with stroke recovery.

L -acetyl carnitine- an amino acid known to be very similar to acetylcholine, it has the
ability to affect the receptor and activate it. Shown to improve cognition and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Pantothenic Acid– is vitamin B-5, is needed for the production of an important enzyme needed in the production of acetylcholine. They have shown that supplementation increases its production.

I personally take a supplement that includes all of these nutrients to increase my acetylcholine production and utilization. This ensures that my cognitive abilities and memory are as sharp as possible so I can effectively help my patients with their complex health challenges.

In addition, I find to helpful to increase my daily dosage when I attend weekend seminars, since the demands in my ability to learn and retain information increase and are vital if I am to implement necessary changes to my patient’s evaluation and treatment protocols.

You can do the same in situations where there are high learning and cognitive demands.

Dosage is not dependent on the weight and size of your body, rather the degree and severity of your symptoms.

Figuring out your specific dosage requires some trial and error experimentation on your part. It only takes 30 minutes after ingestion to experience the effects of acetylcholine supportive nutrients.

Keep increasing the number of pills until you achieve better mental clarity and/or improved memory. Then gradually increase the dose again and see if you have more improvement. Continue doing this until you no longer experience any further improvement.

How much each person takes is individually determined. Some only once a day, some three times a day. Some people experience leg cramps, nausea, and increased gut movement if they take too much.

There are people that may feel fatigued when they try even small amounts of these compounds. This could mean that they are deficient; their neurons are too close to firing and get easily fatigued, not being able to generate enough energy to function correctly.

These individuals may also need to improve oxygenation to the brain, maintain healthy blood sugar levels, along with reducing inflammation, and consuming supportive and nutritive compounds for the neuron.

When you are in this situation of needing the acetylcholine supplementation and not being able to tolerate but small doses. Begin with the smallest dose you can tolerate and at the same time implement strategies that will reduce inflammation, manage your blood sugar, improve oxygen delivery, and feed the neuron so it can function correctly. Over time, these strategies may gradually lead to an ability to ingest the ideal amount of acetylcholine support.

Excess intake of acetylcholine support, leads to muscle cramping, nausea, and increased bowel movement because this is the neurotransmitter that contracts skeletal and intestinal muscles. It also stimulates the centers in the brain stem that activate the vagus nerve, which makes you feel nausea, and induces vomiting.

Another symptom that people with degeneration in the communication between the gut and the brain have is to feel nausea or the need to vomit when they ingest small doses of acetylcholine supportive nutrients. If this is the case, then immediate implementation of strategies that restore neuron health and gut brain communication must be seriously considered.

In fact, anything that is out of balance in skeletal or intestinal muscles will be affected by this supplementation. If you already suffer from tight muscles they may cramp more often before you are able to get the benefit of increasing your memory. That is because acetylcholine affects all the synapses in the body not just the brain.

Dietary considerations for optimal acetylcholine production include a diet that has choline rich sources, these are foods high in fat content:

  • Liver and organ meats
  • Egg Yolk
  • Tofu
  • Beef
  • Nuts
  • Cream
  • Milk with Fat
  • Fatty Cheeses

As you can see, vegan and low fat diets are not adequate for this purpose.

Blood Sugar Balance– needed to provide the necessary compounds to make acetylcholine from dietary sources of choline and pantothenic acid as well as the energy production of the neuron.

Another vital element needed for optimal acetylcholine production and utilization is:

Oxygen– Without proper oxygen delivery to the brain the neuron cannot produce energy and operate normally so it can produce and respond to it optimally.

How can you tell the difference between acetylcholine deficiency and the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease?

If you can rule out the low fat diet and low energy production, then it is very difficult to distinguish the two. Regardless, the person will benefit from improving acetylcholine production since this supports the neuron’s health, though they may not be able to repair the damage already done.

Once some neurons have died, they are gone forever, the only thing you are impacting are the existing neurons and their efficiency in making and responding to acetylcholine.

The neurons that have the highest percentage of acetylcholine activity are in the hippocampus, which is in charge of memory and spatial orientation.

In order to overcome the damage that has already occurred, one must implement strategies that will encourage the existing neurons to make more connections with each other by ingesting nutritionally supportive nutrients, and the above-mentioned lifestyle and dietary habits that keep your brain supplied with oxygen and glucose, and reduce inflammation. 

Written by Dr. Debbie Novick