You may not be familiar with it but uridine could be just the boost that your brain needs. Studies have demonstrated that supplementing with this natural compound can improve cognitive processes like memory and also be used to treat various mental issues like depression and bipolar disorder.
It also has various physical benefits including heart health, reducing inflammation and improving bone health. If you would like to learn more about uridine and how it may benefit your health, read on.
What is Uridine?
Uridine is a natural compound and one of the five nucleosides making up nucleic acid. Uridine is an essential component in RNA and it plays a major role in the function of the central nervous system. In humans, uridine gets synthesized inside the liver as UMP or uridine monophosphate and secreted in the blood.
Natural Sources of Uridine
As we have already mentioned, uridine is produced in small amounts by the body but there are several other sources. Uridine is found in various plant-based foods including tomatoes, sugarcane, broccoli and brewer’s yeast and is also found in liver and breast milk.
In order to get the best benefits of the compound, you may need to use a supplement which can be found in health stores and online. Supplementation ensures that you are getting uridine in the doses required to have a significant benefit.
The Health Benefits of Uridine
1) Brain Benefits
Research indicates that uridine can have a positive effect on the brain in many ways including improved memory, improved sleep and preventing epileptic fits.
In one recent study, uridine was administered in combination with choline and DHA. The three nutrients work together to increase the amount of synapses produced in the brain. (1)
Other studies have demonstrated that administering uridine could prevent epileptic episodes and improve sleep in rats. (2) Another study done on gerbils revealed that uridine in combination with DHA and choline led to enhanced cognitive abilities. Following supplementation, neurotransmitters and synaptic proteins increase and the animals’ performance in brain exercises improved significantly. (3)
Several studies done on humans and on animals have also demonstrated that supplementing with uridine can aid memory formation and memory retention. One study showed that in combination with choline, logical and verbal memory was enhanced in human subjects. There is also evidence that uridine that by stimulating the formation of synapses, Alzheimer’s disease symptoms might be delayed. (4)
2) For Pain and Inflammation
Besides its potential effect on cognitive health, supplementing with uridine has certain physical benefits including the ability to reduce inflammation. It may help to ease the painful symptoms of conditions like arthritis and rheumatism but research is still at a very early stage.
In one recent study published in 2016, patients with carpal tunnel syndrome were treated with a daily dose of a capsule including uridine, vitamin B12 and folic acid. The patients experienced a reduction in inflammation as well as pain. The results were extremely promising and 77% of the patients treated with the natural remedy either stopped using or greatly reduced their dose of anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications. (5)
3) Heart Health
According to research, uridine can contribute to heart health in a number of different ways. There is evidence that it can improve blood flow to the heart, normalize its rhythm and protect the heart during heart attack.
When there is insufficient available to supply the heart, the heart is also prevented from getting enough oxygen to function properly. Research done on rats has found that uridine and another nutrient called uridine-5-monophosphate are both able to increase the flow of blood to the organ and regulate the heart’s rhythm. (6)
Another study demonstrated that uridine was able to protect the heart by reducing contractions during a heart attack. According to the researchers, it can accomplish this by activating the P2Y2 receptors. (7)
4) Restores Liver Growth
Studies done on rats have also demonstrated that treatment with uridine could help stimulate the regeneration of the liver. In one study, rats treated with uridine following a liver transplant experienced complete restoration of liver cell and liver growth. (8)
5) To Treat Bipolar Disorder and Depression
Supplementing with uridine could help to treat bipolar disorder as well as helping people with depression.
Bipolar disorder might be linked to mitochondrial dysfunction and research suggests that uridine can help to treat this problem.
One study published in 2011 looked at the effects of uridine supplements on children with bipolar disorder over a 6 week period. The children who were treated with a twice daily dose of 500mg experienced significant reduction in depressive symptoms. (9)
6) Cystic Fibrosis
Research on mice indicates that uridine can help treat cystic fibrosis – a genetic disorder which causes damage to the lungs as well as the digestive system.
Uridine helps reduce the thick secretions within the lungs making mucus easier to eliminate. One study found that uridine triphosphate along with sodium channel blockers could relieve the symptoms of cystic fibrosis in mice. (10)
Studies done on humans have backed up the animal research. In one study a combination of amiloride and uridine triphosphate helped clear mucus and improve the airways in adult patients. Researchers found that the improvements were very significant and the airways were cleared to near normal levels comparable with a healthy adult. (11)
7) To Treat Anemia
Anemia is a condition resulting from an iron deficiency which causes a number of symptoms including fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness. Research indicates that a combination of uridine, cytidane and vitamin B12 was an effective and safe treatment for people with anemia. (12)
8) Problems Related to HIV
It has been found that people who are HIV-positive have lower levels of uridine in the blood than healthy people. Lipoatrophy is a condition characterized by abnormal fat loss in the body and is more common in patient with HIV.
In one study, HIV-positive patients were treated with uridine for 24 weeks and this resulted in a marked increase in the level of limb fat. (13)
Patients with HIV who have been treated with antiretroviral medications long-term can experience problems with their mitochondria which can lead to toxicity. Studies have shown that supplementing with uridine can guard against mitochondrial depletion and even reverse associated toxic effects. (14)
Uridine is available in capsule and powder form. The recommended dose ranges from 500 mg to 2 grams a day depending on various factors and the condition you are trying to treat.
People who are interested in the cognitive and nootropic effects of uridine will need around a gram to a gram and a half of the supplement each day. Because of its synergistic effects, it may be even more effective if it is taken along with a choline supplement.
Side Effects and Precautions
- Uridine is generally believed to be safe when taken in appropriate doses by a healthy adult.
- Some minor side effects include headaches, nervousness, fatigue and stomach upset.
- In very high doses, side effects include diarrhea and fever.
- Some evidence indicates that uridine can reduce vitamin B12 levels and the solution would be to take a supplemental dose of B12 at the same time.
- Pregnant women should always consult their doctor before taking any supplement and the same thing applies to nursing mothers.