What is phosphatidylserine? Why do we need it?
Phosphatidylserine is a type of phospholipid, a fat-soluble substance necessary for the composition of cell membranes. Normally, the body manufactures phosphatidylserine from other components of phospholipids. It is found in high concentrations in the brain and elsewhere in the body.
Most research concerning phosphatidylserine has examined its role in mental function and the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Placebo-controlled studies have suggested that phosphatidylserine may have a moderate effect in improving mental function in Alzheimer's, with the effects lasting up to three months after the conclusion of the study. However, phosphatidylserine is not a cure for Alzheimer's disease; at best, it appears to slow mental deterioration.
Phosphatidylserine also appears to affect the levels of certain neurotransmitters that are related to mood. Hence, it may be of benefit in the treatment of depression.
How much phosphatidylserine should I take?
Because phosphatidylserine is manufactured naturally by the body, deficiencies caused by diet usually do not exist. Most studies of phosphatidylserine have used 300 mg or 600 mg per day, usually derived from soy.
What forms of phosphatidylserine are available?
Phosphatidylserine is manufactured naturally by the body. Dietary forms are rather uncommon. Very small amounts of phosphatidylserine are found in lecithin. Most clinical studies have used phosphatidylserine derived from bovine animals, specifically, bovine brain tissue. As a dietary supplement, phosphatidylserine is usually derived from soy. It is available in capsule, tablet and liquid forms.
What can happen if I take too much phosphatidylserine? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
Because of concerns about mad cow disease, bovine-based forms of phosphatidylserine are not available in the United States. As of this writing, no significant side-effects have been reported in people taking phosphatidylserine, nor are there any known drug interactions. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking phosphatidylserine or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.
- Blokland A, Honig W, Brouns F, et al. Cognition-enhancing properties of subchronic phosphatidylserine (PS) treatment in middle-aged rats: comparison of bovine cortex PS with egg PS and soybean PS. Nutrition 1999;15:778-83.
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- Heiss WD, Kessler J, Mielke R, et al. Long-term effects of phosphatidylserine, pyritinol, and cognitive training in Alzheimer's disease. A neuropsychological, EEG, and PET investigation. Dementia 1994;5:88-98.
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