Phosphatidylserine is an important part of cellular structure and is found in high amounts in the brain. It is commonly taken as a dietary supplement because it helps maintain cell integrity and can improve mental focus, memory, and mood. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of phosphatidylserine.

What is Phosphatidylserine?

Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid (a fat molecule attached to a phosphate) and is a major component of all cell membranes. It has particular importance in brain function and is thought to improve cognitive function and memory. It may also help with ADHD and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Health Benefits

1) Can Improve Cognitive Function

A supplementation containing 400 mg phosphatidylserine increased the speed of mathematical calculations and decreased errors in a clinical trial of 18 people [1].

It also improved cognitive function in three clinical trials of 577 people total (at a dosage of 300 mg/day) [2, 3, 4].

However, in another clinical trial of 248 people, taking a supplement containing fish oil and 88 mg phosphatidylserine 4x/day did not enhance performance on cognitive tasks [5].

2) Can Improve Memory

Supplementation with 200-300 mg/day of phosphatidylserine improved memory in three clinical trials with 263 total people [6, 7, 8].

In another clinical trial of 72 people, 300 mg/day of phosphatidylserine with phosphatidic acid improved memory and mood [9].

Phosphatidylserine combined with omega-3 fatty acids helped maintain or improve memory in two clinical trials of 130 people [10, 11].

While Ginkgo biloba extract had no effect alone, when complexed with phosphatidylserine, it improved memory in a clinical trial of 28 people [12].

However, phosphatidylserine did not improve age-associated memory impairment in a clinical trial of 120 people [13].

3) Reduces Stress

Phosphatidylserine reduced cortisol and ACTH (which controls cortisol release) levels following a stress test in a clinical trial with 80 people. Strangely, this effect was only seen with the 400 mg dose and not higher dosages [14].

A 400 mg phosphatidylserine/400 mg phosphatidic acid complex normalized ACTH and cortisol levels but only in chronically stressed people and not people experiencing low stress in a clinical trial of 75 men. This specific effect was also seen with a phosphatidylserine/omega-3 supplement in a clinical trial of 60 men [15, 16].

Phosphatidylserine (300 mg/day) also improved mood and feelings of stress [17].

4) Aids Athletic Performance

In a clinical trial with 14 men, 750 mg of phosphatidylserine increased the amount of time people could exercise before getting tired. In another study, 400 mg/day reduced feelings of fatigue post-exercise [18, 19].

In response to physical exertion, phosphatidylserine decreases secretion of ACTH, a hormone that triggers cortisol. This effect on the stress response may explain how phosphatidylserine may benefit athletic performance [14, 17, 20, 21].

However, in a clinical trial, it did not protect against muscle soreness and damage [22].

5) Reduces ADHD Symptoms

Phosphatidylserine and a phosphatidylserine supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids both reduced ADHD symptoms in clinical trials of 236 children [6, 23].

6) May Benefit Alzheimer’s Patients

The hereditary form of Alzheimer’s is associated with the accumulation of amyloid beta in the brain. Studies have shown that phosphatidylserine prevents this accumulation, which could help prevent or slow the progression of the disease [24].

While 400 mg/day improved brain function, the benefit faded near the end of the treatment in a clinical trial of 70 people with probable Alzheimer’s [25].

In another clinical trial of 51 people with probable Alzheimer’s, phosphatidylserine reduced symptoms, with greater improvement in those with less cognitive impairment. It also improved some dementia symptoms in a clinical trial with 33 people with early Alzheimer’s. These data suggest that phosphatidylserine may be helpful in the early stages of Alzheimer’s [26, 27].

300 mg/day also improved dementia symptoms in a clinical trial of 42 senile patients [28].

7) Helps With Mobility

A supplement containing phosphatidylserine, omega-3 fatty acids, Ginkgo biloba, and B vitamins taken for 6 months improved mobility in older women (clinical trial of 27 people) [29].

8) Reduces Symptoms of Depression

300 mg/day of phosphatidylserine helped reduce depressive symptoms in a clinical trial of 10 women [30].

9) May Help Restore Normal Sleep Patterns

In Parkinson’s disease, phosphatidylserine levels are depleted in brain cells, which can cause disturbed sleep. In an animal model of Parkinson’s, phosphatidylserine supplementation restored normal sleep patterns [31].

10) May Potentially Aid Recovery

Phosphatidylserine also aids in the formation of bones from minerals in the body, and researchers have suggested potential applications for phosphatidylserine as a bone repairing molecule for use in recovery from surgery [32].

Side Effects, Natural Sources & Dosage

Side Effect & Safety

A dosage of 600 mg/day for 12 weeks was safe and well tolerated in a clinical trial with 120 adults and a dosage of 150 mg/day for 30 weeks was safe and tolerated well in a clinical trial with 200 children [33, 34].

While there does not appear to be any side effects of phosphatidylserine supplementation, historically, phosphatidylserine has been sourced from cow brain tissue, which carries a risk of contamination and disease transmission [R, R].

It is now usually sourced from soy extracts, which is not associated with the same risks [35].

Natural Sources

Phosphatidylserine can be difficult to obtain via the diet. Many foods and natural substances do not contain large amounts of phosphatidylserine. While brains are a good source of phosphatidylserine, its consumption is not recommended due to a risk of contracting infectious brain diseases [36, 37, 38].

Supplements can be made using animal and vegetarian sources. Because of the risk of infectious diseases, vegetable-derived sources of phosphatidylserine (such as soybean) are generally considered better [37].

Dosage & Supplements

The recommended daily dose has not been established but generally, a dosage of 200-400 mg/day was used in clinical trials.

Supplements are available as capsules, softgels, tablets, and powder.

Reviews

Multiple people said it helped them sleep and clear their head.

One user said it effectively lowered their cortisol levels while a different user said it helped them focus.

Another user said it did not have any effects on her or her husband.

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