What is phosphatidylserine?
Phosphatidylserine is known to provide a lot of health benefits to the human body. It plays an important role in the proper functioning of the body’s tissues and organs. One of its essential functions is that it is a key building block for millions and billions of cells present in the brain. But not all are aware that it actually exists in every single human cell.
Phosphatidylserine is produced by the body itself, but you can also get this from your daily diet. However, individuals who need a higher demand of this molecule can also go for phosphatidylserine supplements. This molecule is considered as one of the natural treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease and is also used for any age-related cognitive decline. It helps improve the athletic performance on the field as well as helping those who suffer from ADHD.
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid that contains fatty acids as well as amino acids. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are omega-3 fatty acids, both synergistically work with phosphatidylserine to provide the healthy cell membranes with essential building blocks. As previously mentioned, the human body can produce this phospholipid, but it can also be obtained from foods.
What exactly are phospholipids?
They are essential molecules that surround all of our cells. They help provide proper cellular protection as well as structure. Phospholipid molecules are made from four components:
- Fatty acids
- A phosphate
- A platform that is attached to the fatty acids
- Alcohol that is attached to the phosphate
Phosphatidylserine is critical for the overall maintenance of cellular function, which is mostly carried out in the brain. There have been studies, which showed that this molecule is beneficial for the formation of bone matrix, coordination of heartbeat, repair of the cell and removal from the immune system, secretion of the hormones done by the adrenal glands, and testicular function.
Health Benefits of Phosphatidylserine
1. Improves Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia. This medical condition takes the thinking power away from people. Hence, affected individuals are unable to perform their everyday tasks and gradually tend to forget who they are. Providing daily phosphatidylserine supplements would help increase brain chemical levels, which are mostly involved in retaining memory as well as providing improvements in brain cell communication. However, one cannot consider phosphatidylserine as a cure for Alzheimer's disease. It would just reduce the progression of the disease and help slow down the symptoms or bring about some improvements. Phosphatidylserine has been found to be effective in those individuals who suffer from the less severe form of the disease.
2. Slows Down Age-Related Cognitive Decline
Phosphatidylserine helps improve one's memory, cognition, and mood, especially in elderly people. One of the studies conducted on around 500 elderly patients suffering from cognitive impairment showed that with the use of phosphatidylserine, there were a lot of improvements in the parameters of cognition and behavior. This exercise was carried out in three months and then again after six months to review the changes of the medical condition. It was also seen that the patients taking phosphatidylserine supplements showed no major side effects. Hence, it was said that the elderly patients could tolerate the intake of phosphatidylserine.
3. Fights Depression
Researchers have mentioned that individuals who suffer from depression have a compromised flow of blood to various regions in the brain. It was seen that a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids led to a decrease in the normal flow of blood in the brain.
Apart from a decreased blood flow, such deficiency also led to a reduction in the phosphatidylserine levels present in the brain by 35-40 percent. Hence, when one is depressed, it is automatically sensed that their omega-3 levels are also down.
Thus, it was concluded that a diet rich in phosphatidylserine or with the help of supplementation would help the individual fight depression. It has also been observed that phosphatidylserine has effects on the level of neurotransmitters present in the brain, which is very much related to mood changes. Moreover, studies also show that phosphatidylserine can very well reduce the severity of depression.
4. Improves the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is another degenerative medical condition of the nervous system. The disease leads to the loss of intentional body movements. Individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease lose the ability to properly talk. Most people affected by the disease develop a slurred speech. They also find it difficult to walk and start to experience tremors on certain parts of their body.
Researchers are yet to understand the exact cause of this medical condition, but it has been observed that the brain cells, which produce the chemical called dopamine start to die off in patients with Parkinson’s disease. This chemical is the one responsible for signaling the areas of the brain, which mainly deal with movement.
Hence, when these brain cells start dying, the brain also loses the ability to inform the body about when and how to move, which then results in Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Phosphatidylserine is one of the keys when it comes to the proper functioning of the brain. It has been identified that individuals with Parkinson’s disease usually have lower levels of phosphatidylserine.
In one of the studies, it was found out that with the intake of 100 mg of phosphatidylserine supplements taken around three times a day would help improve the mood as well as lead to a proper functioning of the brain for individuals who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
5. Helps Improve Athletic Performance
The use of phosphatidylserine has also shown to improve the performance of athletes in various studies. It helps reduce the damage caused to the muscles along with improving the endocrine response to the stress, which is induced by carrying out exercises.
In one study, it was concluded that six weeks of proper phosphatidylserine supplementation led to an improvement in the stress levels of golfers. At the same time, it improved the number of good ball flights during tee off. Athletes use phosphatidylserine supplements for a faster recovery after a training session.
Exercise is also one of the reasons for the release of cortisol. Exercises or any athletic performance keeps the body under stress. Thus, those who exercise on a regular basis are often seen to have high levels of cortisol. The intake of phosphatidylserine capsules can help reduce post-workout cortisol levels.
Moreover, those who engage in athletic training and take phosphatidylserine capsules notice a faster recovery, improvement in the loss of fat, and effective muscle repair. Taking phosphatidylserine along with carrying out moderate to high-intensity workouts can create a number of benefits to the body. The use of phosphatidylserine supplements leads to an increase in the level of testosterone along with lowering the levels of stress-related hormone called cortisol.
6. Treats the Symptoms of ADHD
ADHD is also known as Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. It is known to be one of the most common neurodevelopmental problems mostly seen during childhood. Those individuals who are suffering from ADHD have a difficult time in focusing on any activity, and also find it difficult to control their impulsive behavior.
Individuals with ADHD are usually overactive. ADHD can also be seen in adults. It has been observed that individuals who suffer from ADHD have shown certain signs of improvement with the help of phosphatidylserine. Phosphatidylserine is known to improve and provide:
- The power of mental focus
- Cognition and memory
- Relief from stress by reducing the levels of cortisol in the body
- Good mood
Phosphatidylserine is known to encourage the increase of brain activity through neurotransmitters. All of these benefits lead to the improvement of ADHD symptoms.
7. Blocks the Stress Hormone Cortisol
Phosphatidylserine has been seen as a natural nutrient, which is found to effectively block the harmful effects of cortisol. As a phospholipid, it acts as a gatekeeper since it is vital for cellular communication and for the transfer of materials in and out of the cells.
Phosphatidylserine works by controlling the levels of cortisol and also eliminates the negative effects, which are caused by its high levels. Phosphatidylserine is regarded as a cortisol-blunting supplement. This happens because it refutes the effects of cortisol so that the cells retain their normal function, and the immune system does not get overtaxed.
It also helps improve an individual's mood, promotes good sleep, and prevents insomia. It also helps control the level of cholesterol and promotes weight loss. Studies have shown that a 400 mg dosage of phosphatidylserine is proven to be very effective for keeping cortisol levels under check. Due to the high levels of stress, the amount of phosphatidylserine gets easily depleted, which is why supplements are needed. This mostly happens when an individual is engaged into stressful events and activities.
Increasing Phosphatidylserine Naturally
There are four main issues that lead to a natural decrease in the levels of phosphatidylserine in the body. The contributing factors are:
- Unhealthy diet
- Modern food production
- Emotional, physical, or mental stress
- Gradual aging
As a person ages, it leads to an increase in the brain’s need for phosphatidylserine. However, at the same time, it also leads to an inefficient metabolism. Hence, the body simply does not get the enough phosphatidylserine in the diet. Stress becomes another factor, which leads to an increase in the requirement of phosphatidylserine, leading to a decrease in the levels of phosphatidylserine in the body.
The use of modern production of fats and oils leads to a decrease in the natural content of phospholipids, which also include phosphatidylserine. The modern diet, which consists of low cholesterol and low fat leads to a lack of 150 mg of dietary phosphatidylserine per day. Thus, the question arises on how will one obtain phosphatidylserine naturally from food.
Soy lecithin is known to be one of the highest dietary sources derived from soybeans. Cow brain is the next highest source of phosphatidylserine, but it is not usually recommended since it can lead to the risk of mad cow disease. The following foods are rich sources of phosphatidylserine:
- Chicken breast
- Chicken heart
- Turkey leg
- Unpolished rice
- Sheep’s milk
- Cow’s milk
- Whole grain barley
Apart from food items, phosphatidylserine can also be made available as a dietary supplement derived from soy lecithin. It can also be prepared from sunflower or cabbage. Before, phosphatidylserine supplements were prepared from cow’s brain. However, there were concerns raised that these supplements could lead to mad cow disease, so it was stopped. Phosphatidylserine supplements are usually available at local health stores or drugstores. It can also be purchased online, but make sure to only choose reputed brands.
Side Effects of Phosphatidylserine
Phosphatidylserine is considered safe when taken in its natural form. Also, PS supplements are good for the health when they are orally taken in appropriate dosages. The possible side effects of phosphatidylserine are stomach upset and insomnia or lack of sleep. However, these side effects would only occur if the doses increase above 300 mg per day.
Avoid taking phosphatidylserine along with blood thinners such as warfarin. Moreover, use it with caution when combining it with any natural blood-thinning supplements. Consult a doctor first before taking any kind of supplement, especially if you have the following conditions:
- Certain underlying medical conditions
- Pregnant, trying to conceive, or nursing a baby
- If you are below the age of 18.