Phosphatidylserine is a key acid in all cells in your body. In animal studies, phosphatidylserine enhances memory by maintaining the nerve cell membrane, increasing the number of receptors, promoting brain cell communication, and helping to stimulate the release of neurotransmitters. So, can it improve memory and cognition in older adults?
About 20 years ago, studies were done with phosphatidylserine extracted from bovine cortex (BC-PS), which showed promise as a cognition enhancer. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled Italian study that enrolled 494 older adults (65 to 93) with moderate to severe cognitive impairment, patients received either 300 milligrams (mg) of BC-PS a day or placebo for six months. BC-PS-treated patients showed significant improvements in cognitive functions. They also had improved socialization, motivation and learning skills.
Due to the risk of “prion” (an infectious agent) contamination in BC-PS, the soybean-derived phosphatidylserine (SB-PS) is now used in its place. This new type of phosphatidylserine differs mainly in the absence of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is the key
omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid in the brain. There are studies showing that DHA intake is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment in middle-aged subjects and that it could reduce the risk of dementia.
So, another interesting alternative is phosphatidylserine linked to omega-3 long-chain fats themselves (PS-DHA). One exciting study using this compound showed promising results in improving cognitive functions. This study was conducted in Israel using 157 older individuals free of dementia. It tested PS-DHA (300 mg of phosphatidylserine plus 79 mg of DHA/eicosapentaenoic acid) or placebo for 15 weeks. The study found that PS-DHA significantly improved cognitive functions in the patients who had complained about memory issues. Those with more rapid cognitive decline were most likely to respond to PS-DHA. This may show that PS-DHA could reverse cognitive-related deficits.
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The usual dose of phosphatidylserine is between 100 mg and 400 mg a day. There are currently no known interactions or side effects.
There is a consistent finding that phosphatidylserine indeed improves cognitive functions, especially short-term memory and the recall of objects and names. Also, patients’ mood and concentration improve after taking phosphatidylserine. Cognitive improvement seems to be greatest in those with milder impairment of cognitive function.
This acid is especially effective for people with poor short-term memory or who have trouble remembering names or objects. It is recommended that you should consult with your primary-care physician before using this dietary supplement.