The Health Benefits of Phosphatidylserine: Understanding Its Impact on Cognitive Health And ADHD

Phosphatidylserine often abbreviated to PS, regularly appears in brain booster supplements and nootropics. Phosphatidylserine is a naturally occurring phospholipid, is a crucial component of cell membranes and plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the nervous system and brain.

Present in all cells throughout the body, phosphatidylserine is particularly concentrated in the brain, where it supports numerous cognitive functions.

In recent years, researchers have been exploring the potential benefits of phosphatidylserine supplementation for cognitive health, with promising results.

As a key player in maintaining cellular integrity and the proper functioning of cellular communication, phosphatidylserine is essential for overall brain health. Supplementing with phosphatidylserine has been shown to support memory, learning, focus, and mood, making it an intriguing option for those seeking to improve their cognitive function. This article delves into the science behind phosphatidylserine, its benefits for the brain, and how to incorporate it into your daily routine.

In the following sections, we will examine the role of phosphatidylserine in the brain, its impact on cortisol levels, its potential benefits for adults with ADHD, and the various sources of phosphatidylserine in foods and supplements. Additionally, we will explore potential side effects, compare phosphatidylserine with other cognitive health supplements, and provide guidance on making the most of this powerful nutrient for your cognitive well-being.

The science behind phosphatidylserine and cognitive health

Phosphatidylserine's impact on cognitive health can be attributed to its involvement in several important processes within the brain. As a structural component of cell membranes, phosphatidylserine helps maintain the fluidity and permeability of these membranes, [1] allowing for efficient transport of nutrients and signalling molecules. This, in turn, supports optimal communication between brain cells, which is crucial for learning, memory, and other cognitive functions.

Moreover, phosphatidylserine plays an essential role in the process of apoptosis, or programmed cell death. This process helps maintain the balance between the production of new cells and the elimination of damaged or aging cells, ensuring the overall health and efficiency of the brain. By supporting apoptosis, phosphatidylserine may help protect the brain from harmful build-ups of protein aggregates and other cellular debris that can contribute to cognitive decline. [2]

Numerous clinical studies have investigated the effects of phosphatidylserine supplements on cognitive function, with many reporting improvements in memory, learning, attention, and mood. These studies suggest that phosphatidylserine may be a valuable tool for maintaining cognitive health and potentially mitigating age-related cognitive decline.

Key phosphatidylserine benefits for the brain

The benefits of phosphatidylserine supplementation for the brain are numerous, with research indicating that it may:

1.      Enhance memory function: Studies have shown that phosphatidylserine supplements can improve memory performance in both young and older adults, with the latter group experiencing the most significant benefits. These improvements may be due to phosphatidylserine's ability to support cell membrane fluidity and neuronal communication.

2.      Support learning and cognitive flexibility: Research suggests that phosphatidylserine may help improve cognitive flexibility, or the ability to adapt and switch between tasks quickly. This, in turn, may support learning and problem-solving abilities.

3.      Promote focus and attention: Some studies have reported improvements in attention and focus following phosphatidylserine supplementation, which may be particularly beneficial for individuals with attention deficits.

4.      Improve mood and reduce stress: Phosphatidylserine has been shown to have a positive effect on mood and stress levels, possibly due to its ability to regulate cortisol levels and support neurotransmitter production.

The role of phosphatidylserine in managing cortisol levels

Cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, plays a crucial role in the body's stress response and is often referred to as the "stress hormone". While cortisol is necessary for maintaining homeostasis in the face of stressors, chronically elevated cortisol levels can have numerous detrimental effects on the body, including impaired cognitive function and increased risk for mood disorders.

Phosphatidylserine has been shown to help regulate cortisol levels by modulating the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the primary system responsible for controlling the body's stress response. By supporting the proper functioning of the HPA axis, phosphatidylserine may help normalize cortisol levels, potentially reducing the negative impact of stress on cognitive function and mood.

Several studies have investigated the effects of phosphatidylserine on cortisol levels and stress-related symptoms, with positive results. In one study, participants who supplemented with phosphatidylserine experienced a significant reduction in cortisol levels and reported improvements in mood and stress-related symptoms compared to those receiving a placebo.

Phosphatidylserine and ADHD: Potential health benefits of Phosphatidylserine for adults

Adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often struggle with cognitive challenges such as inattention, impulsivity, and poor executive function. While conventional treatments for ADHD typically involve stimulant medications, some individuals may be interested in exploring alternative, natural options for managing their symptoms.

Phosphatidylserine has shown promise as a potential supplement for adults with ADHD, with studies suggesting that it may help improve attention, working memory, and other cognitive functions which help manage ADHD symptoms. In one study, adults with ADHD who received phosphatidylserine supplementation experienced significant improvements in attention, impulsivity, and overall symptom severity compared to those receiving a placebo. [3]

While further research is needed to fully understand phosphatidylserine's potential role in ADHD management, these preliminary findings suggest that it may be a promising option for adults seeking natural support for their ADHD symptoms particularly mental focus. [4]

Other Phosphatidylserine Benefits

Phosphatidylserine and Alzheimer's

PS has been shown to have some promising results when it comes to the existing studies. It’s by no means a wonder cure, but it does seem to have some ability to help manage mild cognitive impairment and other symptoms. Unfortunately, the early clinical trials have shown there is some evidence that it may stop working after 16 weeks, [5, 6] although due to it’s ability to help improve memory in general there is still some hope of it functioning beyond this period.

Phosphatidylserine and Sleep

Largely fuelled by its effect on cortisol levels, supplementing Phosphatidylserine has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, although there’s not a huge amount of studies to verify this. [7] 

Phosphatidylserine and Depression

Along with it's ability to improve mental focus, it does seems that taking phosphatidylserine seems to have some benefits for depression, particularly in older adults. Some clinical studies have also shown low phosphatidylserine levels and low EPA and DHA (omega 3 fatty acids) are low in older adults with depression. [8] There is still relatively limited information on this, although considering we know the effects of phosphatidylserine on cortisol, it seems likely that it will have some benefit. As it also works well in contrast with omega 3 for ADHD, it's also not surprising that the link between PS and Omega seems to continue through to late life depression.

Phosphatidylserine and Muscle Soreness

There have also been some studies which shown that taking phosphatidylserine supplements in large doses can help with muscle soreness after working out. [9] Although there are relatively few clinical trials to confirm these health benefits of phosphatidylserine.

Natural sources of phosphatidylserine in foods

Phosphatidylserine is naturally present in a variety of foods, with the highest concentrations found in animal-derived products such as organ meats (e.g., liver and kidney), fish (e.g., mackerel and herring), and poultry (e.g., chicken and turkey). Plant-based sources of phosphatidylserine include soybeans, white beans, and sunflower seeds, though the levels are generally lower in these foods compared to animal sources.

For those who prefer to obtain their phosphatidylserine from whole foods rather than supplements, incorporating these nutrient-rich sources into their diet can help support optimal cognitive function and overall brain health.

Phosphatidylserine supplements: Dosage and choosing the right product

For individuals who prefer to supplement with phosphatidylserine, it is important to choose a high-quality product and adhere to the recommended dosage guidelines. Most research studies have utilized daily dosages of 100-300 mg of phosphatidylserine, with the majority of participants experiencing benefits at the higher end of this range. As a result 200 - 300mg are typically considered optimal doses. 

When selecting a phosphatidylserine supplement, it is essential to choose a product that contains a standardized amount of phosphatidylserine, typically between 20-50% per serving. Additionally, consider opting for a product that is sourced from non-GMO soy or sunflower lecithin, as these sources are typically more sustainable and less likely to contain contaminants.

Understanding potential side effects of phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, with few reported side effects. Some individuals may experience mild gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, bloating, or gas, though these effects are typically temporary and resolve with continued use

Other self reported side effects from products containing PS include headaches and dizziness. However, it is important to note that these side effects are generally mild and should not deter individuals from trying phosphatidylserine supplements.

Comparing phosphatidylserine with other cognitive health supplements

When it comes to cognitive health supplements, phosphatidylserine is just one of many options available. Other popular supplements for brain health include omega-3 fatty acids, ginkgo biloba, bacopa monnieri, and huperzine A. Each of these supplements offers unique benefits for cognitive function, and some may be more suitable for certain individuals or conditions.

For example, omega-3 fatty acids, particularly those found in fish oil, are well-known for their ability to support brain health and reduce inflammation. Ginkgo biloba has been used for centuries to improve memory and cognitive function, while bacopa monnieri has gained popularity for its potential to enhance learning and memory. Huperzine A, an extract derived from the Chinese club moss plant, has been shown to improve cognitive function and may be particularly beneficial for individuals with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

Ultimately, the choice between phosphatidylserine and other cognitive health supplements should be based on individual needs, preferences, and any underlying health conditions. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help guide this decision-making process and ensure the best possible outcome for cognitive health. It does seem that combining it with other memory boosting supplements can also improve it's overall function.

Health Benefits of Phosphatidylserine Conclusion: Making the most of phosphatidylserine for your cognitive health

Phosphatidylserine offers numerous benefits for cognitive health, making it an attractive option for individuals looking to support their brain function and protect against age-related cognitive decline. By understanding the science behind phosphatidylserine, its potential brain boosting benefits, and how to incorporate it into your daily routine, you can harness the power of this remarkable nutrient and optimize your cognitive well-being. Whether through food sources or supplementation, phosphatidylserine can be a valuable addition to your cognitive health toolkit.


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