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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Phosphatidylserine?

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....

Meaningful evidence from numerous double-blind studies suggests that animal-source PS is an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of age-related mental decline. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Vegetable-derived PS has little supporting evidence.

PS is widely marketed as a treatment for ordinary age-related memory loss as well. While there is little direct evidence that it works, in studies of severe mental decline, PS appears to have been equally effective whether the cause was Alzheimer's disease or something entirely unrelated, such as multiple small strokes. This certainly suggests that PS may have a positive impact on the brain that is not specific to any one condition. From this observation, it is not a great leap to suspect that it might be...

Safety Issues

Phosphatidylserine is generally regarded as safe when used at recommended dosages. Side effects are rare, and when they do occur they usually consist of nothing much worse than mild gastrointestinal distress. 10 One study found that use of phosphatidylserine did not alter results on standard medical screening tests. 11 However, the maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been established.

PS is sometimes taken with ginkgo because they both appear to enhance mental function. However, some caution might be in order: Ginkgo is a "blood thinner," and PS might be one as well. PS is known to enhance the effect of heparin, a very strong prescription blood thinner. 12 It is possible that...