D-Aspartic acid is becoming a very popular supplement in the sports nutrition marketplace. For many years research had been piling up showing that it serves a key neurochemical role in the regulation of testosterone production, as well as the production of other hormones such as growth hormone and thyroid hormone. Then about a year ago a study was published in Italy showing that the amino acid indeed has the ability to raise testosterone in humans, and shortly thereafter many d-aspartic acid products hit the market in the United States.
Some new research appears to indicate that in addition to its effects on hormone regulation d-aspartic acid may be involved in the process of learning and memory. Researchers separated some rats into two groups with the first group receiving a d-aspartic acid solution (as sodium d-aspartate) and the second group receiving a simple saline solution. These solutions were consumed over the course of 12-16 days. After that time the researchers tested the rats using something called the Morris water maze test. In this test they throw the rats in a pool that has a resting platform just under the surface of the water in a designated spot in the pool. The rats swim around until they find this platform. The rats are then allowed to rest for a period of time and then the researchers throw the rats in again and observe how quickly they are able to re-find the resting platform. This is done several times. The researchers also change the platform around a few times just to make sure the rats aren’t finding it by coincidence, and also because the researchers get off on torturing the rats. This funny little test is considered to be a measure of memory and spatial cognitive ability.
Sure enough, the rats that drank the d-aspartic acid solution performed considerably better than the control rats. It was found that the d-aspartic acid rats had levels of d-aspartic acid in the hippocampus 2.5 times that of the control rats. The hippocampus is a part of the limbic system of the brain and it is vital in the formation of memories and in spatial navigation, so it’s functioning has obvious relevance in this water maze test. Furthermore, researchers grabbed 20 or so randomly selected rats and threw them into the pool (without any d-aspartic acid treatment). After cutting them up they discovered that the rats that had the highest natural d-aspartic acid concentration in the hippocampus also performed best on the test.
All this data represents intriguing evidence that d-aspartic acid might serve an integral role in learning and memory formation, and hints at the possibility of d-aspartic acid being exploited as a natural cognitive enhancing supplement. Based on the information provided in the study, a human equivalency dose is calculated to come out to be around 2-2.5 grams a day (most d-aspartic supplements provide around 3 grams a day.)
So does d-aspartic acid have a cognitive enhancement effect on humans? A carefully controlled study would be needed to answer that question for sure, but right now feedback from users of my d-aspartic acid product (E-Pharm Testforce2) seems to indicate a subjective “brain boosting” effect. Hopefully some more research into this intriguing aspect of d-aspartic acid will be undertaken and more papers will be published in the future.