Last week I discussed the uses of phosphatidyl choline in cell membrane function; this week we’ll look at its molecular cousin, phosphatidyl serine (or PS for short) and its role in the brain. Like its choline counterpart, PS is a phospholipid found in the cell membrane, but in much smaller amounts. PS is particularly abundant in nerve cell membranes of the brain where it plays a role in inter-cell communication. Our bodies can create PS from phosphatidyl choline but can also obtain some directly from our food. PS occurs in meat, fish, and organ meats particularly brain, but by far the most abundant food source of PS is soy lecithin. As with phosphatidyl choline, our production of PS decreases as we age which may contribute to a decline in brain function.
Double-blind studies in the USA and Europe have shown that PS supplementation can reverse this trend. Specifically, taking PS has been found to improve short and long-term memory and concentration in people with mild to moderate cognitive dysfunction (it doesn’t help much with more severe dementia). PS has also been shown to improve mood, reduce depression and increase social interaction in older people. Phosphatidyl serine supplements, in dosages of 200mg per day, have been used successfully for children with ADHD. PS has also been used, in higher doses, by athletes to reduce exercise-induced stress and soreness.
Phosphatidyl Serine supplements used to be extracted from bovine brain but since the BSE (mad cow) epidemic manufacturers have switched to making it from either soy or sunflower lecithin. Most of the early studies were done with bovine PS – more recent studies with soy based PS have shown less consistent results.
Because phosphatidyl serine is found in every cell of the body, it is a very safe nutrient with only a few rare, mild side effects. The goal of supplementation is to bring the levels of PS in the cell membranes back to what it was when we were younger. Therapeutic effects are dose dependent. For prevention 100mg per day is recommended; to treat age-related mental impairment 200-300 may be needed. PS is commonly sold in 60 and 100mg strengths.
Web MD PS Overview Information
Web MD PS Uses, Side Effects, Interactions
Soy PS study in Japan
Natural Factors monograph
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.