Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a component of the membranes of all cells. PS is categorized as a ‘phospholipid’ — i.e., a fat
that contains phosphorus.
Athough all cells require phospholipids in order to survive, nerve cells have especially sensitive phospholipid requirements. Phosphatidylserine is one of the most prominent of the phospholipids.
Deficiencies of PS can result from dietary habits or simply from aging. PS levels have an impact on many physiological processes and ailments, most of them related to the nervous system. They include:
- attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- language proficiency
- coping with stress
- cognitive decline
- behavior in children
- brain aging
- intelligence decline due to aging
- neurotic thinking
- focus and alertness
- athletic performance
What we can’t tell you
In the U.S. and some other industrialized countries, government agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
have adopted censorship as a method for intensifying their control over the supplement industry and its customers.
Thus, FDA regulations prohibit us from telling you that any of our products are effective as medical treatments,
even if they are, in fact, effective.
Accordingly, we will limit our discussion of Phosphatidylserine to a brief summary of relevant research,
and let you draw your own conclusions about what medical conditions it may be effective in treating.
Phosphatidylserine has been studied as a treatment for dementia since the 1980s. Dozens of clinical studies have been carried
out to explore the benefits of this supplement for ameliorating mental problems. Let us look at several of these.
Learning, memory and recall
A 15-week study of PS combined with DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) given to non-demented elderly with memory complaints showed
that “verbal immediate recall was significantly improved in the PS-DHA group compared to the placebo group. ... a subset of
participants with relatively good cognitive performance at baseline had significant treatment-associated improvements in immediate
and delayed verbal recall, learning abilities, and time to copy complex figure.”
Studies in Japan have shown that PS at 300 mg/day (and even at 100 mg/day) improves the memory and other cognitive functions
in older individuals with memory complaints.
PS as an oral supplement has been reported to be an effective supplement for combating exercise-induced stress by blunting
the exercise-induced increase in cortisol levels. Athletes in a variety of sports have been studied to investigate the consequences of these effects and their impact upon
performance, with generally positive results. These sports include: cycling, running, and weight-training.
A research group in Germany studied the effects of phosphatidylserine supplements on the performance of golfers. They found
that six weeks of PS supplementation at 200 mg per day significantly improved the number of good ball flights during tee-off.
Among the benefits noted by athletes taking PS were:
- speeds up recovery
- prevents muscle soreness
- improves sense of well-being.
Researchers suggest that PS promotes a desirable hormonal balance for athletes and might attenuate the physiological deterioration
that accompanies overtraining and/or overstretching.
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s
Forty-two hospitalized demented patients were treated with 100 mg PS three times daily for six weeks. There was a statistically
significant improvement in the results as measured on the Peri Scale (a dementia assessment).
A study of 33 patients in Germany used 300 mg/day of phosphatidylserine for 8 weeks. Significantly more patients improved
under PS than under placebo.
Mood and neurotic thinking
It has been suggested that PS supplements blunt the release of cortisol in response to exercise stress, leading to reduced
stress and improved mood. This concept was tested at the University of Wales Swansea in young adults with higher-than-average neuroticism scores. “The
taking of 300mg PS each day for a month was associated with feeling less stressed and having a better mood.”
Enhancing focus and alertness
A U.S. study of a supplement cocktail including PS, given to healthy college students, showed that it prevented a decline
in “reaction time, and subjective feelings of focus and alertness to both visual and auditory stimuli in healthy college students
following exhaustive exercise.”
The average daily PS intake from the diet in Western countries is estimated to be 130 mg. This amount is probably inadequate for obtaining the full benefits discussed in above.
According to researchers at the University of Wales Swansea, “The effective dosages in sport studies range from 300 to 800
mg PS per day for short-term application (10-15 days). The effective dosage for mental stress, which is closely related to
physical stress, is 300 mg PS per day for 30 days. However, long-term studies on cognitive functions have found significant
physiological effects using daily dosages as low as 100 mg PS per day.”
The amount used successfully in clinical studies of mood and cognition were typically 100 mg three times per day.
Two excellent reviews of PS and cognitive function are freely accessible in Alternative Medicine Review.
Are Phosphatidylserine supplements useful for the conditions and purposes mentioned above?
We aren’t allowed to tell you, so you should take a look at some of the references cited here,
and then decide for yourself.