Phosphatidylserine is found in high amounts in the brain. It’s a popular dietary supplement used to improve mental focus, memory, and mood. Does it really work? Read on to learn more about the health benefits of phosphatidylserine, potential side effects, and optimal dosage.
What is Phosphatidylserine?
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid (a fat molecule attached to a phosphate) and is a major component of all cell membranes. It has particular importance in brain function; people use it as a supplement to improve cognitive function and memory, relieve stress, and more .
A supplement containing 400 mg phosphatidylserine (PS) increased the speed of mathematical calculations and decreased errors in a clinical trial of 18 young people .
In another clinical trial of 72 people, 300 mg/day of phosphatidylserine with phosphatidic acid improved memory and mood .
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with the accumulation of amyloid beta in the brain. Studies have shown that phosphatidylserine (PS) prevents this accumulation, which could help prevent or slow the progression of the disease .
In a clinical trial of 51 people with Alzheimer’s, PS reduced the symptoms and enhanced cognition, with greater results in those with milder impairment .
300 mg/day also improved dementia symptoms and behavior in a clinical trial of 42 senile patients .
Larger, well-designed clinical trials are needed to confirm the promising beneficial effects of phosphatidylserine on Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the authors of one study, it may be particularly effective in “hyperactive-impulsive, emotionally and behaviorally-dysregulated ADHD children” .
The initial results are promising but require further investigation.
Phosphatidylserine reduced cortisol and ACTH (which controls cortisol release) levels following a stress test in a clinical trial with 80 people. Strangely, this effect was only seen with the 400 mg dose and not higher dosages .
Phosphatidylserine (300 mg/day) improved mood and calmness in young volunteers facing stressful situations .
No valid clinical evidence supports the use of phosphatidylserine for any of the conditions in this section. Below is a summary of up-to-date animal studies, cell-based research, or low-quality clinical trials which should spark further investigation. However, you shouldn’t interpret them as supportive of any health benefit.
In a clinical trial of 14 men, 750 mg of phosphatidylserine increased exercise duration. In another study, 400 mg/day reduced feelings of fatigue post-exercise, but the effects may partly be attributed to caffeine, a known stimulant [25, 26].
In response to physical exertion, PS decreases secretion of ACTH, a hormone that triggers cortisol. This effect on the stress response may explain how phosphatidylserine may benefit athletic performance [21, 24, 27, 28].
However, in a small clinical trial of 8 men, it did not protect against muscle soreness and damage .
A supplement containing phosphatidylserine, omega-3 fatty acids, Ginkgo biloba, and B vitamins taken for 6 months improved mobility in 27 older women. Other supplement ingredients have likely contributed to the results .
No clinical evidence supports the use of phosphatidylserine for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.
In Parkinson’s disease, phosphatidylserine levels are depleted in brain cells, which can cause disturbed sleep. In an animal model of Parkinson’s, phosphatidylserine supplementation restored normal sleep patterns .
Phosphatidylserine aids in the formation of bones from minerals in the body, and researchers have suggested its potential applications for bone repair and recovery from surgery. However, these observations stem from preclinical research only and haven’t been confirmed in humans .
This list does not cover all possible side effects. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you notice any other side effects. In the US, you may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada, you may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
A dosage of 600 mg/day for 12 weeks was safe and well-tolerated in a clinical trial with 120 adults and a dosage of 150 mg/day for 30 weeks was safe and tolerated well in a clinical trial with 200 children. Possible side effects are rare and include [34, 35]:
Historically, phosphatidylserine has been sourced from cow brain tissue, which carries a risk of contamination and disease transmission. It is now usually sourced from soy extracts, which is not associated with the same risks [36, 37].
Phosphatidylserine can be difficult to obtain via the diet. Many foods and natural substances do not contain large amounts of phosphatidylserine. While animal brains are a good source of phosphatidylserine, their consumption is not recommended due to the risk of contracting infectious brain diseases [1, 38, 39].
PS supplements have not been approved by the FDA for medical use. In general, regulatory bodies aren’t assuring the quality, safety, and efficacy of supplements. Speak with your doctor before supplementing. The below doses may not apply to you personally. If your doctor suggests using a grape seed extract supplement, work with them to find the optimal dosage according to your health condition and other factors.
The recommended daily dose has not been established but generally, a dosage of 200-400 mg/day was used in clinical trials.
Supplements are available as capsules, softgels, tablets, and powder. They can be made using animal and vegetarian sources. Because of the risk of infectious diseases, vegetable-derived sources of phosphatidylserine (such as soybean) are generally considered better .