Phosphatidylserine Benefits


Fact Checked

Written by James Dixon

Our nootropics and nutritionist James Dixon analyses the benefits of Phosphatidylserine, as well as any precautions and side effects we must consider. Here’s what he discovered…

Phosphatidylserine is a form of phospholipid, a fatty substance that the body naturally creates. Its primary function is to facilitate the transmission messaging between the brain’s neurons.

human brain and nerve cells

In addition, it shields and safeguards brain cells, supports clotting in the blood, and might play a crucial part in memory retention and clarity. It is found naturally in select foods and is also available as a dietary supplement.

Research in animals suggests that levels of phosphatidylserine diminish through the ageing process and that supplements might help to counteract this decline. Phosphatidylserine supplements may be of help to those suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and stress and anxiety.

Additionally, supplementing with phosphatidylserine is believed to encourage healthy sleep whilst leading to improvements and mood. There is even some evidence that it might bolster athletic performance.

It is important to note that while phosphatidylserine supplements are generally considered safe, they may cause side effects such as upset stomach, insomnia, and headache. The appropriate dosage of phosphatidylserine may vary depending on the individual and the condition being treated. As with any supplement, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before taking phosphatidylserine.

The health benefits of phosphatidylserine 

Cognitive improvements

Phosphatidylserine has been the subject of exciting research, particularly for its potential to halt or even reverse cognitive decline, as a result we often see it some of the top tier nootropics.

A recent study involved 131 older participants who were either given a supplement containing DHA and phosphatidylserine, or who were given a placebo, for fifteen weeks. Both groups underwent cognitive function tests at the end of this run.

The results showed that participants given phosphatidylserine showed substantial improvements in both learning and verbal recall, as well as the ability to copy complex shapes more quickly. Another study using phosphatidylserine demonstrated a 42% boost in their ability to recall memorised words.

In another study, memory-challenged volunteers aged between 50 and 90 years were given phosphatidylserine supplements for three months. The testing revealed improvements in mental flexibility and memory. Interestingly, that same study showed that participants taking phosphatidylserine also experienced a healthy fall in blood pressure over a sustained period.

One wide-ranging study recruited nearly 500 patients aged from 65 to 93. The patients were given phosphatidylserine supplements for 6 months before having their responses tested. The results showed substantial improvements in both cognitive parameters and behavioural elements.

The evidence so far suggests that phosphatidylserine may play an important role in combatting age-related memory loss and mental acuity decline. The studies have shown that Phosphatidylserine can improve verbal recall, learning, and the ability to copy complex shapes with greater speed. It can also increase the ability to recall memorised words and improve memory recall and mental flexibility.

Depression treatment

Phosphatidylserine may well have a positive impact on mood and may help to mitigate the effects of depression. Several studies have backed up these claims, showing that it may well help in the treatment of depression.

woman holding head with depression

One study involved a group of young adults all struggling with stress. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or 300 milligrams of phosphatidylserine daily for 30 days.

By the study’s completion, researchers found that participants taking phosphatidylserine exhibited improvements in mood. Phosphatidylserine may well then be effective for reducing symptoms of stress and improving overall mood.

Another study investigated phosphatidylserine’s effects on mood in a group of older women diagnosed with depression. One group was provided with daily doses of 300 mg of phosphatidylserine. Routine testing assessed the phosphatidylserine’s impact on their mental wellbeing. The participants experienced notable improvements in their symptoms of depression.

The exact mechanism by which phosphatidylserine affects mood and mental health is not yet fully understood. However, it is thought that it may help to regulate the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, which are known to drastically affect mood regulation.

Overall, the results of these studies suggest that phosphatidylserine may be a promising natural supplement for improving mood and guarding against depression. However, further research will be needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the optimal dosage and duration of treatment. It is also important to note that individuals should always talk to their healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Athletic improvements

Phosphatidylserine has been primarily studied for its possible role in mitigating the cognitive symptoms of ageing. However, recent research has also uncovered additional possible benefits.

man cycling

In particular, healthy athletes who take phosphatidylserine may experience improved sporting performance. For example, studies have shown that golfers who take this supplement can improve their game, while others have shown that those who consume phosphatidylserine experience greatly diminished fatigue levels post-training. Cyclists who take 750 mg of phosphatidylserine per day have also been found to have improved training capacity.

One particularly interesting study involved healthy men aged between 18 and 30 who were asked to take maths tests both prior to and after a program of heavy resistance training. The researchers discovered those who were given phosphatidylserine made a third fewer errors whilst completing the tests almost 20% faster than the control group.

This suggests that phosphatidylserine may play a role in speeding up recovery post-training, sharpening reflexes, and sustaining mental accuracy under duress.

Lightening physical symptoms of stress

During bouts of intense physical effort, the body releases stress hormones like cortisol. These in turn can lead to inflammation, DOMS (delayed onset of muscular soreness), and symptoms of overtraining.

One study investigated the effects of phosphatidylserine on the body’s response to exercise. The study looked at healthy men who received 600 milligrams of phosphatidylserine for 10 days, with a control group being given a placebo. These participants then undertook intensive cycling workouts whilst researchers measured their bodies’ responses.

The study found that the group receiving phosphatidylserine experienced lower cortisol levels compared to the placebo group.

This suggests that phosphatidylserine may in part mitigate the negative effects of stress hormones on the body during exercise and aid in faster recovery. It may therefore have a protective effect against the risks of overtraining by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the body.

However, further research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and risks of using phosphatidylserine as a dietary supplement for exercise recovery.

Protecting from oxidative damage

Damage from oxidation is considered a significant factor in the development of dementia, as well as other health conditions tied to overall cell damage. This has led to a growing focus on antioxidants in modern dietary research, which have been found to combat free radicals.

Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules produced by the body as a result of normal metabolism or exposure to environmental factors like radiation and tobacco smoke.

Phosphatidylserine is known for its antioxidant properties, meaning that it could help to ward against oxidative damage.

While more research is needed to fully understand the role of antioxidants and phosphatidylserine in combating oxidative damage, the evidence so far suggests that they may be important tools in the fight against a range of health conditions.

By helping to protect against free radicals and other sources of oxidative damage, these substances may be able to help prevent or slow the onset of dementia and other health concerns.

Reducing inflammation

Inflammation is a common factor in many health conditions, and it is important to find ways to reduce or prevent it. Research has shown that fish oil-derived fatty acids can aid in protecting you from chronic inflammation. Additionally, studies have found that cod liver-derived DHA can work together with phosphatidylserine to provide even greater benefits.

Interestingly, some studies have suggested that Phosphatidylserine may also have anti-inflammatory properties. This means that taking supplements containing phosphatidylserine may be a useful way to help prevent inflammation and the health problems associated with it.

However, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between phosphatidylserine and inflammation.

Supplementing with phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is essential for proper brain function. Whilst you can get it through a healthy, balanced diet, modern dietary habits, food production methods, anxiety, stress, and ageing can lead to underconsumption.

Modern diets aimed at low cholesterol and fat intake, as well as plant-based diets, can lack phosphatidylserine. Deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acid can also diminish phosphatidylserine levels in the brain by up to 28%, which can very negatively affect cognitive function.

salmon avocado and nuts omega 3 fatty acid foods

Stressful lifestyles can lead to a rise in demand for phosphatidylserine as your body uses more of it, which can result in net phosphatidylserine depletion.

Combine the two – low dietary intake and increased demand as part of a modern lifestyle – and the need to add in extra soon becomes apparent.

Research shows that older adults can particularly benefit from raising their phosphatidylserine intake. Ageing further increases the brain’s needs for phosphatidylserine while also creating a metabolic insufficiency, making it difficult to obtain enough solely through your diet.

Phosphatidylserine has been shown to improve memory impairment related to age, preventing brain function decay, making it a crucial supplement as you reach your golden years.

Whilst it is possible to obtain phosphatidylserine through a healthy and varied diet, we realistically need to consider supplementation, especially as we age.

As above, it is possible to eat plenty of phosphatidylserine rich foods. These include the likes of organ meats, soybeans, and white beans. Some foods, like eggs and dairy products, also contain small amounts of phosphatidylserine. In early studies, the supplement was derived from brain cells of cattle. It is a naturally rich source, if unappetising.

However, due to concerns about mad cow disease, an infectious disease that affects the brain tissue of cattle, scientists have developed a type of phosphatidylserine from plant sources such as soy or cabbage. This is where we will be likely taking in most of our dietary phosphatidylserine in the future.

Taking phosphatidylserine

Warnings and contraindications

Coumadin (warfarin) and similar medical blood thinners, as well as common anti-inflammatory drugs, may interact with phosphatidylserine. If you suffer from any concerns with blood-clotting, you should avoid Phosphatidylserine.

You also shouldn’t take it in and around surgery – don’t take it at least two weeks before surgery.

Phosphatidylserine may interact with drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma, as well as antihistamines and antidepressants. Its safety for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as children and those going through ongoing medical intervention, has yet to be fully established.

Side effects

Phosphatidylserine can provide various health benefits, but it may also offer side effects that are worth noting. Some of the common side effects of phosphatidylserine include stomach upset, intestinal gas, and insomnia.

Dosing and preparation 

According to a review article published in 2015, humans can efficiently absorb 300 mg to 800 mg of phosphatidylserine daily. The healing dose for memory loss stands at around 100 mg taken up to three times daily, as per the Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database.

If considering a phosphatidylserine supplement, it is recommended to consult with your doctor to determine the appropriate dosage. While phosphatidylserine is available in some foods such as white beans, soy, egg yolks, and beef and chicken liver, it is difficult for the body to take in phosphatidylserine from food sources in sufficient quantities.

Using phosphatidylserine as part of your diet and lifestyle

Phosphatidylserine has been studied for its potential benefits in improving memory and cognitive function. However, safety concerns about mad cow disease led to most supplements being produced from soy or cabbage instead of cow brain cells. While preliminary studies have shown potential benefits of plant-based phosphatidylserine supplements, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Therefore, it may be wise to stick with other methods, such as exercise and mental activity, which have been shown to be effective in maintaining memory and brain functioning. It is important to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement or treatment.

To summarise

Phosphatidylserine is essential for proper brain function. It facilitates the transmission of messages between nerve cells in the brain, covers and protects brain cells, aids in blood clotting, and may play a crucial role in retaining memory sharpness, thus making it key for proper brain health and healthy functioning.

image of brain neuron cells

Though we make a little in our bodies, we need exogenous supplies in order to work optimally. These can be food sources, though these are often scarce, lightly dosed, and suboptimal. It is far more realistic to look into supplementation to get your full dose of phosphatidylserine.

And it can be very important that you do so. Phosphatidylserine levels decline as we age. This decline may partly underpin cognitive degeneration, including the likes of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Supplementation can arrest this decline.

It may also be of benefit to those suffering from conditions like ADHD, anxiety, depression, multiple sclerosis, and stress. Supplementation can lead to overall improvements in mood.

In addition, phosphatidylserine supplements are believed to promote healthy sleep as well as lending you some athletic benefits.

However, it is important to note that while phosphatidylserine supplements are generally considered safe, they may cause side effects such as upset stomach, insomnia, and headache. The appropriate dosage of phosphatidylserine may vary depending on the individual and the condition being treated.

As with any supplement, you should always consult with your healthcare provider before taking phosphatidylserine.