Uridine Monophosphate – An Overview
Uridine (Uridine Monophosphate, UMP) is a naturally occurring amino acid.
It is one of the four components of DNA and RNA, and it is found in the cells of literally all life on earth.
It is one of THE basic building blocks of your body.
So, it should come as no surprise that it may have nootropic benefits as a supplement. These include:
- Increased mood
- Increased dopamine receptor density
- Neuroprotection and regeneration
- Overall cognitive enhancement
In fact, uridine is such a critical factor in human brain health and development that you can find some of the highest concentrations in breast milk. It is an ingredient in most infant formulas.1Sugawara M, Sato N, Nakano T, Idota T, Nakajima I. Profile of nucleotides and nucleosides of human milk, J Nutr Sci Vitaminol. 1995 2Thorell L, Sjöberg LB, Hernell O. Nucleotides in human milk: sources and metabolism by the newborn infant, Pediatr Res. 1996
You can find uridine in foods like beets, broccoli, fish, mushrooms, oats, parsley, sugar cane, tomatoes, brewer’s yeast, and beer.
However, most dietary uridine is broken down by the liver and does not reach the brain.
Luckily, you can supplement with uridine monophosphate, which is a highly bioavailable form of uridine that is absorbed by the brain.
Uridine works by promoting neurosynthesis and synapse development. Basically, it can help the brain repair itself and forge new connections.
Obviously, this could be very beneficial to many aspects of brain function.
It can also regulate dopamine production (a major factor in mood), improve cellular metabolism, and lower inflammation. 3LeiWanga, Meredith A.Albrecht, Richard J.Wurtman. Dietary supplementation with uridine-5′-monophosphate (UMP), a membrane phosphatide precursor, increases acetylcholine level and release in striatum of aged rat, Brain Research. 2007
What Does Uridine Monophosphate Do?
One preliminary study found that supplementing uridine for 6 weeks helped lower depression symptoms in bipolar youth.
This is a promising early result, but the small sample size means that more study needs to be done to draw any firm conclusions.4Kondo DG, et al. Open-label uridine for treatment of depressed adolescents with bipolar disorder, J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2011
Epilepsy and Seizures
Although there are no human trials yet, there are some animal studies that suggest uridine has the potential to aid in the prevention and treatment of epilepsy.
This may be due to selective increase in nuclear neuronal RNA in epileptic regions.
In other words, uridine may repair parts of the brain responsible for this condition.
However, results are not conclusive, and more research is needed. 5Zhao Q, Marolewski A, Rusche JR, Holmes GL. Effects of uridine in models of epileptogenesis and seizures, Epilepsy Res. 2006 6Zhao Q, Shatskikh T, Marolewski A, Rusche JR, Holmes GL. Effects of uridine on kindling, Epilepsy Behav. 2008
Huntington’s Disease is a genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain.
Luckily, research suggests that uridine may help manage its symptoms by encouraging brain regeneration.
In one study, uridine increased survival, improved motor function, significantly decreased neurodegeneration, and significantly increased Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in mice with Huntington’s.
Researchers concluded uridine supplementation “may have beneficial effects in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as HD.”7Saydoff JA, et al. Oral uridine pro-drug PN401 is neuroprotective in the R6/2 and N171-82Q mouse models of Huntington’s disease, Neurobiol Dis. 2006
Uridine For Depression
There are clinical and anecdotal reports that uridine can help treat depression, especially as part of a nootropic stack.
Uridine can encourage the release of dopamine and the growth of dopamine receptors, which may help raise mood and treat depression.
One study saw that uridine can increase the number of neurites and promote dopamine release in rats.
They also noted it’s overall neuroprotective qualities. 8Wang L, Pooler AM, Albrecht MA, Wurtman RJ. Dietary uridine-5′-monophosphate supplementation increases potassium-evoked dopamine release and promotes neurite outgrowth in aged rats, J Mol Neurosci. 2005
Another animal study looked at both uridine and omega 3 fatty acids together for treating depression.
They found that each supplement had an antidepressant effect on its own, but that stacking these two substances had an even more profound impact on mood.
They saw the greatest change after 30 days of supplementation. 9Carlezon WA Jr, Mague SD, Parow AM, Stoll AL, Cohen BM, Renshaw PF. Antidepressant-like effects of uridine and omega-3 fatty acids are potentiated by combined treatment in rats, Biol Psychiatry. 2005
This combination can normalize dopamine production and output, causing an overall increase in emotional wellbeing.
This particular stack is famous in the nootropics community for fighting depression, and there seems to be some evidence for it.
Uridine may lower inflammation in the brain and body according to initial evidence. This could have a holistic benefit for a number of conditions 10Cicko S, et al. Uridine supplementation exerts anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic effects in an animal model of pulmonary fibrosis, Respir Res. 2015
Learning and Memory
Encoding memories and learning skills requires your brain to create new neurons and synapses to hold the incoming information.
Uridine can help with neural growth by being a source of phosphatidylcholine (a major building block on neurons) and acetylcholine (an important neurotransmitter for cognition.)
It can also encourage the growth of synapses and increase Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which are critical factors for neurogenesis. 11Wurtman RJ, Cansev M, Sakamoto T, Ulus IH. Use of phosphatide precursors to promote synaptogenesis, Annu Rev Nutr. 2009
There are several animal trials (as well as user testimonials) that suggest supplementing with uridine can indeed help form and retain memories. 12Sarah Holguin, et al. Dietary uridine enhances the improvement in learning and memory produced by administering DHA to gerbils, FASEB J. 2008
It can even potentially improve memory even in the face of brain damage or cognitive decline, due to its neuroprotective abilities as well. 13Teather LA, Wurtman RJ. Chronic administration of UMP ameliorates the impairment of hippocampal-dependent memory in impoverished rats, J Nutr. 2006 14De Bruin NM, Kiliaan AJ, De Wilde MC, Broersen LM. Combined uridine and choline administration improves cognitive deficits in spontaneously hypertensive rats, Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2003
How Uridine Monophosphate Works In The Brain
Uridine is critical for numerous biochemical and physiological processes.15A L Lehninger, D L Nelson and M M Cox. Principles of biochemistry second edition, International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 1993
Does Uridine Increase Dopamine?
One of the major reasons people take uridine is it’s potential to boost levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is heavily linked to motivation and reward processing in the brain.
There seems to be evidence that uridine can increase the levels and transmission speed of dopamine in the brain. This could potentially have a wide-ranging effect on mood. Especially when paired with Omega 3. 16Mehmet Cansev, et al. Restorative Effects of Uridine Plus Docosahexaenoic Acid in a Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease, Neurosci Res. 2009
Uridine And Neural Growth
This nootropic can also promote neural and synaptic growth by increasing amounts of phosphatidylcholine.
Uridine is the only source of cytidine, which is a building block of phosphatidylcholine, one of the key phospholipids within the cell membrane. 17Lei Wanga, Meredith A. Albrecht, Richard J.Wurtman. Dietary supplementation with uridine-5′-monophosphate (UMP), a membrane phosphatide precursor, increases acetylcholine level and release in striatum of aged rat, Brain Research. 2007 18Pooler AM, Guez DH, Benedictus R, Wurtman RJ. Uridine enhances neurite outgrowth in nerve growth factor-differentiated PC12, Neuroscience. 2005
Phosphatidylcholine is a major component of basically every neuron in the body, so keep levels high can ensure proper brain health and improve mental function. 19Pooler AM, Guez DH, Benedictus R, Wurtman RJ. Uridine enhances neurite outgrowth in nerve growth factor-differentiated PC12, Neuroscience. 2005
Uridine can also stimulate neurite outgrowth by activating P2Y receptors. It can evidently increase the number of dendrites (the outgrowths that receive signals) per neuron.
This can improve the flow of information throughout the nervous system. 20A.M.Pooler, et al. Uridine enhances neurite outgrowth in nerve growth factor-differentiated pheochromocytoma cells, Neuroscience. 2005 21Wurtman RJ, Cansev M, Ulus IH. NSynapse formation is enhanced by oral administration of uridine and DHA, the circulating precursors of brain phosphatides, J Nutr Health Aging. 2009
It also improves the flow of acetylcholine, the most abundant neurotransmitter in the body that is responsible for many cognitive processes. 22Lei Wang, Meredith A. Albrecht, and Richard J. Wurtman. Dietary supplementation with uridine-5′-monophosphate (UMP), a membrane phosphatide precursor, increases acetylcholine level and release in striatum of aged rat, Brain Res. 2007
How Much Uridine Monophosphate Should I Take?
Uridine Monophosphate Potential Side Effects
No reports of any major side effects have been reported in any major study. Uridine monophosphate seems to be very well tolerated.
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About the author:
Erik Levi, FNTP
Erik Levi is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.
As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.
Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.
Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.
You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.