What is Phosphatidylserine?
Phosphatidylserine–also simply referred to as PS–is a substance produced by the human body that contains both amino acids and fatty acids.
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid, which means it is also responsible for regulating numerous aspects of the human metabolism. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA work synergistically with PS to provide the building blocks for healthy cell membranes.
It is a vital component of the human cell membrane, and therefore plays an important role in the transfer of biochemical messages between the cells of the brain and nervous system, as well as in general cell-to-cell communication.
In addition, it contains choline, which is a precursor to a natural neurochemical called acetylcholine. The latter is directly linked to brain plasticity, mental focus and memory. It also has a direct effect on the way the human body responds to stress and the way it regulates cortisol levels.
Phosphatidylserine is essential to every cell, as it signals various mechanisms ln the human body that affect function, cellular repair, heart rhythm, testicular function, adrenal health and the formation of bone.
The human body can make phosphatidylserine, but it obtains most of what it requires from foods and when required, can be taken in the form of supplements.
History of Phosphatidylserine
Phosphatidylserine is considered a nootropic, which means it has the ability to enhance cognitive function. Although there is no documented history of its use as a holistic remedy prior to the 20th century, it has been available in a number of foods for thousands of years, including beef, chicken liver, egg yolks, white beans and soy lecithin.
Therefore, most individuals consume a certain amount of the substance in their daily diet without realizing they are doing so. However, numerous men and women choose to take phosphatidylserine supplements to increase this natural daily dietary intake.
Phosphatidylserine Medical Uses
Although phosphatidylserine is produced by our body and is included in our diet but we need more of it because of stress, aging, modern eating habits and food production methods.
Over 3,000 published research papers and more than 60 clinical trials have established phosphatidylserine in zenMIND can rejuvenate your brain cell membranes.
Following are some key findings of various clinical trials and research projects conducted in the developed world:
Based on the research lead by Dr. Mark McDaniel at the University of New Mexico, it is possible that depression–particularly the type of the disorder that is age related–could be linked to insufficient levels of phosphatidylserine.
Clinical Study #1:
Various studies conducted since 2004 have confirmed this finding, such as preliminary research published in Biological Psychiatry magazine. In this study, tests completed on laboratory rats showed that phosphatidylserine provided an antidepressant effect in a large percentage of the test subjects.
Clinical Study #2:
In addition, an Italian study completed at the University of Milan indicated that phosphatidylserine supplements may help postmenopausal women who suffer from depression and mental fogginess.
The study was conducted on a group of women age 70 to 80 and it was determined that with the majority of the subjects, there was an increase frame turnover of glucose, acetylcholine, norepinephrine and dopamine.
Subjects also experience enhanced memory, learning ability, and cognitive awareness. Although additional research is needed before phosphatidylserine can be prescribed as an antidepressant, studies show promise that this may one day be the case.
Interestingly, at the end of the six-month period during the final testing phase, participants with relatively low memory scores at the beginning of the research project were discovered to have experienced a substantial increase in memory.
It is also thought that phosphatidylserine supplements may improve athletic performance and exercise capacity.
A 2006 report published in Sports Medicine found that clinical trial participants who used phosphatidylserine supplements while training experienced decreased muscle soreness and were able to compete or perform for a longer period of time than participants who were given a placebo.
It was even noted that less recovery time was needed in between performances among those who took phosphatidylserine when compared with those who consumed the placebo. Also, the researchers in charge of this study also determined that those using the supplements did not experience the abnormally high levels of cortisol frequently seen among those who train excessively on a regular basis.
Clinical Study #3:
A Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition study published in 2010 suggests that phosphatidylserine may enhance the function of older adults’ memory. During this clinical trial, 80 elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairment participated in the study.
Half the people were treated with phosphatidylserine for six months, while the other half were given a placebo for that same period of time. Findings from the study suggested that phosphatidylserine was indeed helpful with regard to memory enhancement.
In one of the first preliminary studies completed on phosphatidylserine in 1995, researchers discovered a 30 percent improvement in cognitive function among 50 individuals 75 years of age or older who were given 100 mg dose of phosphatidylserine three times daily during the trial.
Clinical Study #4:
In another double-blind study completed that same year in which 150 individuals were enrolled, the phosphatidylserine group experienced less memory problems and a quicker ability to learn when compared with the effects experienced by the placebo group.
Interestingly, in most studies of this type, participants who consumed the phosphatidylserine supplements also experienced additional benefits, such as increased motivation to be social and complete tasks rather than procrastinate.
Enhanced cerebral metabolism was also noted in certain participants who were given phosphatidylserine as opposed to the placebo group.
4. Alzheimer’s Disease
Clinical Study #5:
Significant findings from various double-blind clinical trials conducted on men and women over 80 years of age indicated that phosphatidylserine may be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of age-related cognitive impairment.
Phosphatidylserine’s particular function regarding these disorders is the way it influences cellular communication and metabolism by boosting the fluidity of cell membranes. The latter functions are essential to the capacity of brain cells to send and receive biochemical signals.
Phosphatidylserine appeared to increase the communication among various brain cells, as well as restore acetylcholine supplies. Acetylcholine is a primary neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in cognitive function and memory.
In addition, phosphatidylserine enhances brain glucose metabolism, stimulates the release of dopamine, boosts the activity of nerve growth factor–NGF–a substance that controls the help of certain neurons–and reduces cortisol levels. Therefore, those who take phosphatidylserine on a regular basis may have a reduced risk of age-related cognitive dysfunction, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Using phosphatidylserine simultaneously with omega-3 fatty acids may be an effective treatment for children who have ADHD.
Clinical Study #6:
In a 2012 clinical trial, the results of which were published in European Psychiatry Magazine, 200 children were treated for 15 weeks with either Omega-3 fatty acids and phosphatidylserine supplements or a placebo.
Research indicated that participants given the supplements rather than the placebo experienced a substantially greater reduction in a wide range of symptoms, from moodiness to impulsive behavior, while the placebo group experienced few or no benefits.
6. Mental Drive and Cognitive Performance
In addition to studies completed on seniors, additional research conducted on individuals of all ages indicated that the use of phosphatidylserine supplements may enhance mental drive and focus, as well as improved cognitive performance and memory.
Scientists agree that the most likely reason for this is the fact that phosphatidylserine contains L-theanine and alpha GPC, both of which have been proven to enhance acetylcholine and glutamate levels in the brain.
The latter two substances support the healthy proliferation of neural connections and boost the function of the brain’s serotonergic system. These substances also have strong antioxidant effects on different parts of the brain and nervous system.
Proven Phosphatidylserine Benefits
Phosphatidylserine supplements are often used to enhance stamina when a person is exercising or competing in athletic games.
It is also believed to reduce high levels of cortisol in a person’s bloodstream, the latter of which is the number one stress response hormone in humans: whenever mental or physical stress is experienced, a steroid called cortisol is released by a gland in the human body called the adrenal cortex.
This hormone activates what is commonly referred to as “fight or flight” response. Under normal conditions, cortisol can increase one’s metabolism and produce extra energy, as well as reduce inflammation.
However, when excessive amounts of cortisol are present, it can lead to depression, anxiety, weight gain, suppression of the immune system and decreased libido. Such symptoms often then create a vicious stress cycle that is even worse than before.
Phosphatidylserine as a supplement can prevent these undesirable side effects by impeding excessive cortisol production and keeping stress reactions at a more reasonable level.
1. Physical Stamina
Phosphatidylserine is also a favorite exercise supplement. This is likely due to its ability to make appropriate use of excess cortisol manufactured by those who engage in weightlifting, wrestling or other sports that require extreme strength and stamina.
For example, phosphatidylserine stops the body from its emergency burning of muscle to create energy when it is being taxed excessively, such as is the case with weightlifters, wrestlers and bodybuilders.
Many individuals in these groups claim that phosphatidylserine supplements prevent the unwanted muscle loss that is often associated with overtraining.
2. Mental Health
In addition to alleviating the reactions to stress of both a physical and mental nature, phosphatidylserine also has a positive effect on brain health. The substance provides the chemical foundation for proper brain function and optimal mental health.
This is because it naturally contains choline, which is imperative to the synthesis of phospholipids. This mechanism is necessary if a person’s brain is to function properly on a consistent basis.
Adequate amounts of choline enhance cognitive performance and promote the growth of healthy brain structure. It also helps the brain maintain an appropriate synaptic connection with the various neurons responsible for carrying information from cell to cell.
When cell function in the brain is operating at top capacity, heightened mental clarity, improved memory, and an enhanced ability for critical thinking are experienced. For these and other reasons, phosphatidylserine has been successfully prescribed for individuals who suffer from a vast array of serious neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Men and women with healthy brain tissue also sometimes find that using cholinergic supplements such as phosphatidylserine helps them respond quicker to stimulus, recall facts at a faster pace and increases general mental acuity.
Nutrition Facts & Calories of Phosphatidylserine
Phosphatidylserine contains less than two calories per serving. Here are some of the top PS-rich foods (measured in milligrams of PS per 100 grams):
- Soy lecithin: 5,900
- Bovine brain: 713
- Atlantic mackerel: 480
- Chicken heart: 414
- Chicken leg, with skin, without bone: 134
- Chicken liver: 123
- White beans: 107
- Chicken breast (with skin): 85
Recommended Phosphatidylserine Dosage
Although the US Food and Drug Administration has not yet officially recommended a daily dosage of phosphatidylserine, scientists and doctors who believe phosphatidylserine may be beneficial, usually advise patients to take anywhere from 100 to 300 milligrams of the supplement per day.
Because of its short half-life, most practitioners suggest splitting up the doses over the course of the day in at least three increments, regardless of the total amount of the dose prescribed.
Possible Phosphatidylserine Side Effects
Phosphatidylserine side effects are rare, even in those who take far more than the recommended dosage. However, it is never wise to take more than prescribed of any supplement.
In those individuals who have noted side effects, upset stomach was the most common. Overall, phosphatidylserine is usually tolerated by most consumers and is considered non-toxic.
However, it is important to understand that the supplement may interact with certain medications, particularly those prescribed for high blood pressure.
For example, phosphatidylserine may increase the effects of the pharmaceutical blood thinner, heparin, which could lead to bleeding problems or other complications.
This is also true of medications such as Plavix, Trental and aspirin. Additionally, pairing phosphatidylserine with other supplements may result in blood thinning which should be monitored by individuals taking this supplement.
Research is still underway to uncover additional benefits associated with phosphatidylserine. However, supplements should never be used to replace medication prescribed by a doctor, and it is always in one’s best interest to speak to a licensed, healthcare practitioner before adding any new supplement to his or her diet.
- Kato-Kataoka, A., Sakai, M., Ebina, R., Nonaka, C., Asano, T., & Miyamori, T. (2010). Soybean-Derived Phosphatidylserine Improves Memory Function of the Elderly Japanese Subjects with Memory Complaints. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, 47(3), 246–255. http://doi.org/10.3164/jcbn.10-62.
- Smith, G., Ph.D. (n.d.). Phosphatidylserine supplements: Can they improve memory? Retrieved from Mayoclinic.org/FAQ-20057764.
- Qureshi, I. (2016, June 20). Four New Phosphatidylserine Studies for Memory, Stress, Mood, and ADHD. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/brain-health/four-new-phosphatidylserine-studies-memory-stress-mood-and-adhd.
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