A supplement to keep your brain sharp and your body energized
It may come as a surprise, but the brain is more than 50 percent fat, which gives a whole new meaning to the word “fathead.” Not just any type of fat, mind you, but a combination of phospholipids that are chemically intertwined with the better known omega-3s. Chief among these phospholipids is phosphatidylserine (PS).
As the name suggests, phospholipids contain both phosphorus and fats, and PS specifically is built around phosphorus and the amino acid L-serine. PS makes its home in the membranes, or walls, of brain cells—and, indeed, of every other cell in the body.
It’s in the brain, though, that PS works some real magic. Brain cells are packed tightly—think of people shoulder to shoulder in a crowded elevator—and they communicate with each other partly by sending signals through their membranes. As we age, these membranes become more rigid, but PS helps keep them younger and supple. Some research suggests that PS might actually stimulate the growth of new brain cells.
Studies have found that PS supplements can help with a wide range of cognitive problems, ranging from poor memory to early Alzheimer’s disease. The original research on PS used extracts from cow brains, but now all PS supplements are derived from soybeans.
In the early 1990s researchers reported that PS reduced symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. One of the truisms of nutritional therapies, though, is that supplements usually prevent what they treat. So it’s no surprise that several studies have shown that PS helps people with less serious memory issues. For example, Japanese researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition that taking either 100 mg or 300 mg of PS daily for six months led to significant improvements in memory. Another study showed impressive benefits—a 42 percent increase in word recall after just six weeks of taking PS supplements.
Scientists have also found that PS protects against both physical and mental stress. In a study of college students, David Benton, PhD, of the University of Wales, Swansea, reported that taking 300 mg of phosphatidylserine daily for one month led to fewer feelings of stress, better mood, and less “neurotic” behavior. And just recently, Juliane Hellhammer, MSc, of the Diagnostic Assessment and Clinical Research Organization in Trier, Germany, found that a combination of PS with omega-3 fats reduced stress in men who were under intense stress.
And the benefits of PS don’t stop here. Italian researchers showed that seniors who took 300 mg of PS daily for a month had fewer feelings of depression, improved memory, and overall better behavior.
These benefits seem to extend to children with attention-deficit disorders, especially when PS is combined with the omega-3 fats, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both EPA and DHA are needed for the normal development of the brain, eyes, and nervous system, and they play important roles in regulating mood. Researchers in Israel gave 60 children with symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) supplements containing 300 mg of PS plus 250 mg of EPA and DHA. Children getting the supplements had significant improvements in their behavior.
3 Big Benefits of PS
1 SHARPENS MEMORY. Israeli researchers gave either phosphatidylserine combined with the omega-3 DHA or placebos to 157 patients for 15 weeks. The phosphatidylserine-DHA combo mimicked the way these nutrients are found in the brain. People taking the supplement had better recall and learning.
2 MAY MITIGATE COGNITIVE DECLINE. A study in the journal Aging found that seniors diagnosed with moderate to severe cognitive problems showed significant improvements after taking 300 mg of phosphatidylserine daily for six months.
3 IMPROVES EXERCISE ENDURANCE. A study in Great Britain found that taking 750 mg of phosphatidylserine daily improved endurance in cyclists. Bottom line: The cyclists were able to pedal much longer before feeling exhausted.
It’s easy to get them mixed up: Phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylcholine. The latter contains choline, an essential B-complex vitamin. Your brain makes the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from phosphatidylcholine.
Phosphatidylcholine is a type of fat found in every cell of the body. Importantly, brain cells use it to communicate with each other. But research shows a completely separate benefit: Phosphatidylcholine protects the liver from damage, such as from alcohol or hepatitis. About one-fourth of lecithin granules is—you guessed it— phosphatidylcholine.
THE VITAMIN SHOPPE Phosphatidylserine Complex gives brain cells a boost with 500 mg of PS per dose along with 25 mg of phosphatidylcholine (see above).
LIFE EXTENSION Cognitex Basics is formulated with clinically proven neuroprotective and cognition-enhancing compounds, including 100 mg of PS.
NATURAL FACTORS PS-IQ Memory PS plus essential fatty acids provide optimal support to brain and nerve cells.