Phosphatidylserine
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings
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Phosphatidylserine Overview

Written by FoundHealth.

Phosphatidylserine, or PS for short, is a member of a class of chemical compounds known as phospholipids.PS is an essential component in all our cells; specifically, it is a major component of the cell membrane. The cell membrane is a kind of "skin" that surrounds living cells. Besides keeping cells intact, this membrane performs vital functions such as moving nutrients into cells and pumping waste products out of them. PS plays an important role in many of these functions.

Good evidence suggests that PS can help declining mental function and depression in the elderly, and it is widely used for this purpose in Italy, Scandinavia, and other parts of Europe. PS has also been marketed as a "brain booster" for people of all ages, said to sharpen memory and increase thinking ability. However, the evidence to support this use is incomplete and inconsistent.

Sources

Your body makes all the PS it needs. However, the only way to get a therapeutic dosage of PS is to take a supplement.

PS was originally manufactured from the brains of cows, and all the studies described here used this form. However, because animal brain cells can harbor viruses, that form is no longer available. Most PS today is made from soybeans or other plant sources.

There are reasons to expect that plant-source PS should function very similarly to PS made from cows' brains, and some animal studies suggest that it is indeed effective. 1 However, in preliminary trials, soy-based PS and cabbage-based PS failed to prove beneficial. 2

Therapeutic Dosages

For the purpose of improving mental function, PS is usually taken in dosages of 100 mg two to three times daily. After maximum effect is achieved, the dosage can reportedly be reduced to 100 mg daily without losing benefit. PS can be taken with or without meals.

When taking PS for sports purposes, athletes sometimes take as much as 800 mg daily.

What Is the Scientific Evidence for Phosphatidylserine?

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Forms of Dementia

Overall, the evidence for animal-source PS in dementia is fairly strong. Double-blind studies involving a total of more than 1,000 people suggest that phosphatidylserine is an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

The largest of these studies followed 494 elderly subjects in northeastern Italy over a course of 6 months. 3 All suffered from moderate to severe mental decline, as measured by standard tests. Treatment consisted of either 300 mg daily of PS or placebo . The group that took PS did significantly better in both behavior and mental function than the placebo group. Symptoms of depression also improved.

These results agree with those of numerous other smaller double-blind studies involving a total of more than 500 people with Alzheimer's and other types of age-related dementia. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 However, all these studies involved cow-brain PS; studies of plant-source PS for dementia have not been reported.

Ordinary Age-related Memory Loss

There is some evidence that PS can also help people with ordinary age-related memory loss . In one double-blind study that enrolled 149 people with memory loss but not dementia, phosphatidylserine provided significant benefits as compared with placebo. 11 People with the most severe memory loss showed the most improvement.

However, another double-blind trial of 120 older people with memory complaints but not dementia failed to find benefits. 12 This discrepancy may have to do with the type of phosphatidylserine used—the second trial used the more modern soy-derived form of the supplement (see Therapeutic Dosages). A cabbage-based source of PS has also failed to prove effective for relatively mild memory loss. 13

Athletic Performance

Weak evidence suggests that PS might decrease the release of the hormone cortisol after intense exercise. 14 Among its many effects, cortisol acts to break down muscle tissue—exactly the opposite of the effect desired by a strength athlete or bodybuilder. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 11 intensely trained athletes found that 800 mg of PS taken daily reduced the cortisol rise by 20% as compared with placebo. 15 Another small study on 9 nonathletic males found that daily doses of 400 and 800 mg of PS reduced cortisol levels after exercise by 16% and 30%, respectively. 16 Another study found that phosphatidylserine could relieve some overtraining symptoms, including muscle soreness, possibly due to effects on cortisol. 17 18 On the basis of these preliminary trials, PS has been proposed as a sports supplement . However, there is as yet no direct evidence to support the claims that PS actually helps athletes build muscles more quickly and with less training effort. Furthermore, the most recent and best-designed study, using vegetable-source PS, failed to find anyeffect on cortisol release, muscle soreness, or markers of muscle damage. 19

References

  1. Toffano G, Leon A, Benvegnu D, Boarato E, Azzone GF. Effect of brain cortex phospholipids on catechol-amine content of mouse brain. Pharmacol Res Commun. 8(6):581-90.
  2. Gindin J, Novikov M, Kedar D, et al. The effect of plant phosphatidylserine on age-associated memory impairment and mood in the functioning elderly. Geriatric Institute for Education and Research and Dept of Geriatrics; Kaplan Hospital; Rehovot, Israel; 1995.
  3. Cenacchi T, Bertoldin T, Farina C, Fiori MG, Crepaldi G. Cognitive decline in the elderly: a double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study on efficacy of phosphatidylserine administration. Aging (Milano). 5(2):123-33.
  4. Amaducci L. Phosphatidylserine in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease: results of a multicenter study. Psychopharmacol Bull. 24(1):130-4.
  5. Crook T, Petrie W, Wells C, Massari DC. Effects of phosphatidylserine in Alzheimer's disease. Psychopharmacol Bull. 28(1):61-6.
  6. Delwaide PJ, Gyselynck-Mambourg AM, Hurlet A, Ylieff M. Double-blind randomized controlled study of phosphatidylserine in senile demented patients. Acta Neurol Scand. 73(2):136-40.
  7. Engel RR, Satzger W, Günther W, Kathmann N, Bove D, Gerke S, Münch U, Hippius H. Double-blind cross-over study of phosphatidylserine vs. placebo in patients with early dementia of the Alzheimer type. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2(2):149-55.
  8. Fünfgeld EW, Baggen M, Nedwidek P, Richstein B, Mistlberger G. Double-blind study with phosphatidylserine (PS) in parkinsonian patients with senile dementia of Alzheimer's type (SDAT). Prog Clin Biol Res. 317():1235-46.
  9. Nerozzi D, Aceti F, Melia E, et al. Phosphatidylserine and memory disorders in the aged [in Italian; English abstract]. Clin Ther. 1987;120:399-404.
  10. Palmieri G, Palmieri R, Inzoli MR, et al. Double-blind controlled trial of phosphatidylserine in patients with senile mental deterioration. Clin Trials J. 1987;24:73-83.
  11. Crook TH, Tinklenberg J, Yesavage J, Petrie W, Nunzi MG, Massari DC. Effects of phosphatidylserine in age-associated memory impairment. Neurology. 41(5):644-9.
  12. Jorissen BL, Brouns F, Van Boxtel MP, Ponds RW, Verhey FR, Jolles J, Riedel WJ. The influence of soy-derived phosphatidylserine on cognition in age-associated memory impairment. Nutr Neurosci. 4(2):121-34.
  13. Gindin J, Novikov M, Kedar D, et al. The effect of plant phosphatidylserine on age-associated memory impairment and mood in the functioning elderly. Geriatric Institute for Education and Research and Dept of Geriatrics; Kaplan Hospital; Rehovot, Israel; 1995.
  14. Fahey TD, Pearl M. Hormonal effects of phosphatidylserine during 2 weeks of intense training. Abstract presented at: National Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine; June, 1998; Orlando, FL.
  15. Fahey TD, Pearl M. Hormonal effects of phosphatidylserine during 2 weeks of intense training. Abstract presented at: National Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine;June, 1998; Orlando, FL.
  16. Monteleone P, Maj M, Beinat L, Natale M, Kemali D. Blunting by chronic phosphatidylserine administration of the stress-induced activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy men. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 42(4):385-8.
  17. Monteleone P, Maj M, Beinat L, Natale M, Kemali D. Blunting by chronic phosphatidylserine administration of the stress-induced activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy men. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 42(4):385-8.
  18. Fahey TD, Pearl M. The hormonal and perceptive effects of phosphatidylserine administration during two weeks of resistive exercise-induced overtraining. Biol Sport. 1998;15:135-144.
  19. Kingsley MI, Wadsworth D, Kilduff LP, McEneny J, Benton D. Effects of phosphatidylserine on oxidative stress following intermittent running. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 37(8):1300-6.
 
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