How Phosphatidylserine Benefits Memory & Cognitive Decline

How Phosphatidylserine Benefits Memory & Cognitive Decline

As a supplement, phosphatidylserine can boost memory, relieve stress, and help cognitive decline and ADHD. Learn about its many benefits for your brain.

Phosphatidylserine is a type of fat that occurs naturally in every cell in the body.

It’s found in particularly high concentrations in the brain.

In fact, half of the body’s total phosphatidylserine resides in the brain.

However, phosphatidylserine is rare in the diet and, consequently, people of all ages may benefit from phosphatidylserine supplementation.

6 Ways Phosphatidylserine Enhances Brain Health and Function

Phosphatidylserine is one of the few brain supplements that’s been proven safe and effective for people of all ages, from children to older people.

It has shown potential for treating a wide range of conditions, including stress, memory issues, attention disorders, age-related cognitive decline, and even dementia.

Here are the main ways that phosphatidylserine works to support brain health and function.

1. Essential for Healthy Brain Cells

Phosphatidylserine, which is often referred to as simply PS, is an essential nutrient for healthy, optimally functioning brain cells.

It is a phospholipid, a type of fat with a structure that makes it both hydrophilic (attracted to water) and hydrophobic (repelled by water).

These properties allow phospholipids to neatly arrange themselves into two parallel layers called a phospholipid bilayer

This layer is a major component of human brain cell membranes.

The cell membrane acts as a gatekeeper, regulating the flow of what gets in to and out of brain cells. 

It lets in nutrients, water, and oxygen while letting out metabolic waste.

By supporting brain cell membrane integrity, phosphatidylserine helps keep toxins, pathogens, and other unwanted invaders out of the brain.

There are several other ways phosphatidylserine supports brain health.

Phosphatidylserine is the only brain supplement to receive a qualified stamp of approval from the FDA for treatment of age-related cognitive decline and dementia in seniors.

Neurons need phosphatidylserine to conduct nerve impulses

It is essential for preserving neuroplasticity, so that the brain can continually repair existing brain cells and create new ones. 

Phosphatidylserine increases brain cell fluidity, enabling cells to stay adaptable and effectively respond to stressors. 

2. Increases Levels of Important Brain Chemicals

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that brain cells use to communicate with each other.

They share some responsibility for just about every aspect of your life.

They help determine how happy you are, how well you sleep, relax, and handle stress, how effectively you concentrate, learn, and remember, your libido, and much more.

It’s believed that the majority of us have low levels of these brain chemicals

Phosphatidylserine encourages the release of four major neurotransmitters — serotonin,  norepinephrine, dopamine, and acetylcholine. 

Additionally, phosphatidylserine speeds up communication between brain cells for faster thinking

3. Reduces the Stress Hormone Cortisol

For many of us, life seems to be one crisis after another.

If this sounds like you, you may well be experiencing the deleterious effects of a continual output of cortisol.

Chronically elevated levels of this stress hormone can have some serious health implications.

By increasing inflammation, excess cortisol contributes to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, immune system suppression, and digestive disorders. 

It also wreaks havoc with the brain and mental well-being.

Brain fog, anxiety, depression, mood swings, memory loss, concentration problems, schizophrenia, and mental disorders of all kinds are linked to high cortisol levels. 

Phosphatidylserine mitigates the effects of both physical and mental stress by lowering cortisol levels. 

Phosphatidylserine Reduces Stress While Increasing Physical Performance

Numerous studies have been conducted with phosphatidylserine as it relates to the stress experienced by athletes, including Olympians, runners, and golfers

Research has confirmed that phosphatidylserine not only reduces cortisol, but also increases physical performance, speeds recovery, and reduces post-exercise muscle soreness

This is a win-win for anyone who exercises regularly since physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain!

Phosphatidylserine supplements can be safely used by young and old alike for memory enhancement.

It’s a favorite supplement used by students for boosting memory, concentration, and improving exam performance.

Phosphatidylserine levels naturally decline with age, so phosphatidylserine supplementation can be of particular benefit to older people.

Thomas Crook, PhD, former chairman of the National Institute of Mental Health, studied memory impairment extensively. 

In his research, he found that phosphatidylserine can improve the brain’s ability to remember by many years, even in Alzheimer’s patients.

Phosphatidylserine is protective against age-related mental decline and shows promise for treating Alzheimer’s, dementia, and the accompanying depression often experienced by older people. 

One of the responsibilities of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to prevent manufacturers from making false claims about their products.

But, in an unusual move, the FDA has granted phosphatidylserine manufacturers the right to make these qualified claims on the bottle label and in their marketing materials:

  • “consumption of phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of dementia in the older people”
  • “consumption of phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of cognitive dysfunction in the older people”

Phosphatidylserine is the only brain supplement that’s been granted FDA permission to make any qualified brain health claims.

5. Phosphatidylserine Reduces Symptoms of ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder characterized by impulsiveness, inattentiveness, and excessive activity.

It affects nearly 10% of school-age children

The standard medical treatments for ADHD are medication and psychotherapy

But few people would disagree, medical professionals included, that treating kids with prescription stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin is not an ideal solution and should be used only as a last resort.

Phosphatidylserine supplementation may be a safe and effective natural alternative for treating ADHD.

So far, study results are very encouraging, with phosphatidylserine providing significant improvement in ADHD symptoms in children, especially when paired with omega-3 supplementation

These findings led to the development of Vayarin, a medical food prescribed for children with ADHD.

It consists of phosphatidylserine plus small amounts of two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). 

One study found that 60% of the children who took Vayarin for three months reported some benefit. 

Vayarin is no longer available in the US, but the raw ingredients — PS and omega-3s — are readily available as supplements. 

6. Phosphatidylserine Enhances Other Brain Supplements

One serendipitous benefit of phosphatidylserine is that it works synergistically to enhance the effects of some other notable brain supplements.

Curcumin, the active compound found in the spice turmeric, is one of the best all-around brain enhancers.

It increases blood flow to the brain, reduces inflammation, and boosts production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine

Curcumin helps protect the brain from aging and breaks up brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s. 

However, there’s a big problem with taking either curcumin or turmeric supplements.

Curcumin is poorly absorbed, with up to 85% of it passing through the intestines unused. 

One way to increase the bioavailability of curcumin is to take it with phosphatidylserine

You can either take these two supplements individually or find a curcumin supplement that contains phosphatidylserine.

Other noteworthy brain supplements that work synergistically with phosphatidylserine are fish oil and Ginkgo biloba

Why Phosphatidylserine Is Rare in the Modern Diet

Most of us get our first serving of phosphatidylserine when we are infants, since it’s a natural component of human breast milk.

Unfortunately, the average modern diet now contains only a third of the phosphatidylserine of 100 years ago. 

Phosphatidylserine resides in numerous foods, predominantly within animal sources like cow brains, Atlantic mackerel, chicken hearts, eel, and offal, seldom consumed by many.

There are only a few commons foods with appreciable amounts of phosphatidylserine. 

Tuna, chicken legs, and white beans contain 194 mg, 134 mg, and 107 mg per 3.5-ounce serving respectively.

The average diet provides 130 mg of phosphatidylserine daily, but experts believe a therapeutic dosage to be 300 mg per day.

Unless you regularly eat phosphatidylserine-rich foods, you almost certainly could benefit from taking supplemental phosphatidylserine.

The Best Source of Phosphatidylserine Supplements

Initially, manufacturers derived phosphatidylserine supplements from cow brains.

But due to concerns with mad cow disease (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), bovine phosphatidylserine is no longer available as a supplement.

Bovine phosphatidylserine is available to researchers and often used in clinical trials, but is not available for public use.

(For the record, there are no recorded cases of humans contracting mad cow disease from phosphatidylserine supplements.) 

Most phosphatidylserine supplements derive from soy, while a few brands utilize sunflower oil.

There’s still some question as to whether soy phosphatidylserine is as effective as bovine PS for enhancing mood, memory, and cognition since animal and vegetable-based phosphatidylserine have slightly different chemical structures. 

Phosphatidylserine Supplement Dosages

Experts have not established optimal doses for specific conditions or a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for phosphatidylserine.

The general recommended dosage for memory impairment is 100 mg taken three times a day.

However, older individuals have been deemed safe with dosages twice as high.

Experts have determined dosages for children for phosphatidylserine, making it one of the few brain supplements with established recommendations.

A typical dose for children and young teens is 200 mg per day. 

Phosphatidylserine Side Effects and Interactions

Digestive upset and insomnia are the most common side effects of phosphatidylserine supplements, especially when daily doses exceed 300 mg.

Avoid phosphatidylserine if you take blood thinning or anti-inflammatory drugs.

You should not take it alongside certain anticholinergic drugs such as antihistamines and antidepressants, as it may decrease their effectiveness.

If you take any medications that increase acetylcholine, talk to your doctor before taking phosphatidylserine.

Doctors usually prescribe drugs like Aricept, Exelon, and Razadyne to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Since phosphatidylserine also increases acetylcholine, it can alter these drugs’ effectiveness and amplify their side effects.

Lastly, since there’s no reliable data on the safety of phosphatidylserine for pregnant or breastfeeding women, these groups should avoid PS supplements.

Recommended: Upgrading brain health is key to making your brain work better.

Mind Lab Pro is the brain supplement I recommend because, by boosting your brain health, it can help you:

  • Improve your mental clarity and focus.
  • Boost your memory and your ability to learn.
  • Increase your capacity to think critically, solve problems, and make decisions.

P.S. Like what you’ve read on this page? Get more like this — Sign up for our emails.

Also read our blog on Berberine: A Look at the Potential Benefits

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *