Vinpocetine: The Neural Antioxidant Nootropic
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Many of you may already be familiar with Vinpocetine and the types of positive effects benefits one can expect from it.
For those of you who aren’t, this is the full, overdue write-up of what we consider one of the ‘bread and butter’ nootropics that everyone should include in their daily nootropic regimens.
In a nutshell, ‘vinpo’ is primarily a cerebral metabolic activator and a neuronal protector, and it is said to improve blood flow & circulation and enhance the metabolism of the brain.
Additionally, it possesses strong antioxidant properties and so improves a number of cognitive aspects when it comes to healthy mental function.
What exactly is Vinpocetine?
Vinpocetine is a vinca alkaloid semi-synthetically derived from vincamine. These alkaloids are extracted from the Vinca Minor and Crioceras Longiflorus plants (the seeds), which are native to and found in parts of Europe.
There are actually over 50 alkaloids presents in the Vinca Minor, of which vinpocetine is thought to be the superior and most researched compound, due to low its low toxicity and reported benefits. Additionally, it is reported to be better than vincamine at improving memory and circulation in the brain.
The plant itself has historically been used in various cultures for natural remedies, but it wasn’t until vinpocetine was extracted and developed into the product as we know it today, that we began to realize what its true potential is.
Cognitive and Antioxidant Properties
Various studies have shown it to be primarily beneficial for improving cognitive function and short- and long-term memory. Moreover, there are additional benefits such as visual and hearing improvements, heart protection and improved ATP production in the brain.
So, starting with cognitive function; vinpocetine is a cerebral-vasodilator, meaning it improves and increases blood flow directly to the brain. What sets it apart from your typical vasodilator is that the effect is specific to the brain – it doesn’t affect blood pressure in the rest of the body. Rather than opening all the blood vessels, it has the ability to target damaged brain cells with poor blood flow, something most common vasodilators lack, known as ‘the steal effect’.¹
This increase in cerebral blood flow improves the amount of oxygen and glucose uptake in the brain, providing it with fresh nutrients and flushing out the old ones. The detoxifying effects are from improved circulation which aid in the brains ability to remove toxins from neurons and cells.
Next up, we have increased production of ATP. Adenosine Triphosphate is responsible for metabolic energy in the brain cells, and if you improve oxygenation and glucose in the brain, you raise the potential to produce more ATP and thereby improve electrical and neurotransmitter functions in brain cells and neurons.
ATP helps transport nutrients and energy through the cell body, and since neurons don’t reproduce, ATP plays a vital role in making sure they are able to efficiently facilitate intracellular communication.
Finally, vinpocetine increases the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. Namely, noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine. Yup, all of them.
So, vinpocetine has been shown to increase energy in brain cells (cerebral metabolism) via ATP up-regulation and it increases neurotransmitter levels. Nice.
Vinpocetine also has a stimulating effect on the noradrenaline nerve cluster in the reticular activating system. This is an part of the brain which is responsible for regulating arousal and sleep-wake transitions. This cluster of nerves is called the locus coeruleus (LC), and research has shown that vinpocetine is one of the most effective activators of these neurons.²
It sounds complicated, so why should we care?
Well, LC neuron numbers decline as you age, and this affects your ability to concentrate and process information quickly. So, if vinpocetine is regularly keeping these active and healthy, it’s going to benefit and improve cognition in the long-term. This a prime example of its neuro-protective benefits.
Summary of the Reported Benefits:
- Enhance alertness and concentration
- Improve short- and long-term memory
- Neuroprotective properties
- Improved ATP production
- Improved Cardiac output and Reduced effort of the heart³
- Improve blood flow and dilation of the blood cells through selective vasodilation⁴
- Prevent and improve night vision and/or glaucoma⁵
Vinpocetine is a powerful cognitive enhancer, a term that describes products or compounds which improve memory and concentration. Vinpocetine is both a cognitive enhancer and a nootropic. The difference being, true nootropics are cognitive enhancers that provide neuroprotective benefits with little-to-no side-effects.
However, not all cognitive enhancers are nootropic in nature.
That is, cognitive enhancers such as Adderall do in fact present unwanted side-effects and so cannot strictly be classified as ‘true’ nootropics. This brings us to our next point…
Is Vinpocetine Safe?
Without a doubt, the answer is yes.
Other than feeling a little ‘over-revved’ if one takes more than typically suggested, Vinpo essentially has no reported side effects provided you ingest it with a meal. In fact, at the recommended dose, vinpocetine is safer than a cup of coffee, and exponentially more beneficial. Don’t believe us?
Through studies, we know that the median lethal dose (LD50) of caffeine is 192mg/kg in rats. The LD50 of vinpocetine is 502mg/kg. Here’s a table to illustrate where we’re going with this:
|Substance||Dose||LD50 (mg/kg) in Rats||Intake based on LD50|
In the above table we’re assuming the average intake for an 8oz cup of coffee is 110 mg.
As you can see, not only is the lethal dose of vinpocetine higher than that of caffeine, but the required dose is so small that the total intake based on safety is less than 0.01% overall, and less than 1% when compared with caffeine.
In humans, the lethal dose of caffeine is around 10,000 – 12,000 mg. Going by the number of products available with caffeine as the active ingredient, is it far easier to ‘over-do it’ when is comes to caffeine intake.
The equivalent lethal dose of vinpocetine for a 150lb human? 35,000 mg.
The typical dose is 5 mg – 15 mg, 2-3 times per day. Based on this, we feel confident in saying vinpocetine is indeed a very safe compound.
Vinponature® – The Naturally Improved Vinpocetine
We utilize a variant known as Vinponature®, one of the best natural forms of vinpocetine available.
The breakdown is:
95% Pure Vinpocetine Base (calculated via HPLC)
~4% Structurally Related Extracts
These related extracts are found within the same plants, and are shown to improve the efficacy of vinpocetine. We’ve outlined the benefits of combining similar extracts in a compound like this before, but the basic reason behind this is: studies have been done where pure vitamin C on its own was proven to not be as effective as vitamin C combined with similar compounds that are naturally found in oranges and lemons.⁶
Just the same, combine vinpocetine base with these similar extracts, and it becomes that much more effective.
Who should use it?
Just about anyone looking to maintain a healthy mind – from people over the age of 30, who are slowly beginning to experience cognitive decline due to age, to younger people who are involved in regular mentally engaging activities. Students looking to enhance mental performance for school or gamers and poker players who require concentration and focus will more than likely see an improvement from vinpocetine in the long term.
Individuals who partake in sports and activities where they perform at higher than normal altitudes will also benefit from the improved brain oxygenation.
Usage, Dosing and Availability
When taking any supplement for the first time, start with the lower recommended dosage – 5-10 mg in this case. The reason for this is to let your body and digestive system adjust. It does of course depend on your body type, weight and ‘resistance’ to supplements in general.
Typical doses range from 5 mg – 15 mg, 2 – 3 times a day. We suggest you aim for 20 – 40 mg per day.
If you take it in powder form, you’re going to need an electronic scale that can measure to an accuracy of 1 mg.
Alternatively, you can mix it with another powder, such as creatine, in a ratio where a 1,000 mg dose would provide 5 – 15 mg, whichever you prefer. This simplifies the dosing procedure, and allows you to combine it with any other supplements you take regularly for convenience.
Vinpocetine should be taken with food, as it is lipophilic and so absorption in the presence of fats is dramatically improved. When taking a dose in the higher range (10 – 15 mg), we’d say it’s very important to take it with a meal as you reduce the chances of gastrointestinal discomfort (again, typically this only occurs when first taking a new supplement).
The combined effects are cumulative; the vascular effects can be felt within an hour of ingestion, whereas the therapeutic effects are noticeable after 3 weeks or more of consistent use. In other words, take it daily and the benefits will accumulate over time.
We consider vinpocetine a ‘base’ ingredient for nootropic stacks, and so when combined with other compounds (nootropic or similar) you stand to create a strong synergy between them, for an improved effect. This is mainly due to it having a penchant for shuttling nutrients to the brain, there is a logical link in that it will potentiate compounds with similar effects.
We sell the stand-alone Vinponature in our store, and we primarily include it as one of the active ingredients in Neurostim.References