Benefits of Phosphatidylserine
While most articles on healthy living tend to focus on your body it is also just as important not to neglect the health of your mind. This article is going to explore the health benefits of a naturally occurring compound known as phosphatidylserine (PS), and discuss whether it could be a good addition to your diet to ensure you stay sharp as you age.
What is Phosphatidylserine?
Phosphatidylserine, or PS for short, is a specialist fatty acid that is found in high amounts in the brain where it is an important component of cell membranes. It also has a key role in nerve endings, helping the transmission of signals throughout the brain for optimal cognition.
As we age, our body’s natural production of PS declines, with many experts linking this to issues such as dementia. Therefore, although the body can naturally create PS, additional benefits may be experienced as we age when consuming a PS-rich diet.
Where Does PS Come From?
As mentioned earlier, the body does have the ability to make a small amount of PS, and appreciable amounts can be found in foods such as organ meats, mackerel, and fresh tuna.
However, one of the best sources is lecithin, a compound of phospholipids found in eggs and soybeans. To ensure high levels of PS is present in supplements, standardized soya bean extracts are often used to achieve the doses seen in the research to be beneficial.
How is PS Beneficial?
Now we have covered what PS is, let’s have a look at what it could do for our health.
When you are stressed, the body releases hormones that alter the way your heart, brain and other vital organs work. When stress levels are chronically high, this can cause damage. Besides the physical consequences, stress can impact various other aspects of our lives such as family relations, immune function, diet and sleep quality.
Research has consistently shown that PS supplementation is a viable option to reduce symptoms of stress. These results have been found to be independent of improving cortisol levels (the main stress hormone) or reducing heart rate – suggesting that PS targets the root of the problem in the brain. Because of this apparent action, it is likely that PS would work in synergy with other stress-releasing techniques.
Cognitive function is an umbrella term to describe various functions of the brain such as memory, learning, thought processes, speech, and senses – all pretty important actions! As we age, it is both common and natural to suffer from a decline in cognitive ability.
Research has shown that PS can positively impact numerous aspects of cognitive function. A study from 2010 that recruited over 130 elderly participants found that daily PS supplementation helped to improve language skills, recall memory and reaction time. Impressive results of a very similar nature have also been seen in young health adults, showing that PS can be beneficial for a wide range of people.
Unfortunately, severe cognitive decline such as dementia is becoming all the more common. Numerous high quality research studies are in agreement that daily PS supplement ingestion can improve quality of life. Researchers have also reported an improvement in mental function test performance.
Similarly, PS supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease – a neurodegenerative disease that results in loss of conscious movement. Unfortunately, sufferers of Parkinson’s disease often lose the ability to speak properly, have difficulty walking and can experience tremors.
Interestingly, those with Parkinson’s disease often have low levels of PS. One research study showed that taking 300mg of PS per day split into 3 doses led to improved mood and brain function in those who suffer from this disease.
Looking at younger people, PS supplementation has also been shown to improve the concentration and behavior in children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
As mental health issues are thought to affect 1 in 4 of us, there is obviously interest in ways to improve such conditions. Numerous studies have shown that daily PS supplementation can improve various symptoms of depression in as little as a month. These results have been seen in both men and women of varying ages.
Interestingly, the impressive findings of PS supplementation are accentuated when it is taken alongside DHA – an omega 3 fat. DHA is well-known to improve brain function and has been shown to help people with poor mental health. Even though PS and DHA have similar functions in the brain, their roles complement each other.
Stepping away from health for a moment, athletes and sports enthusiasts may also want to consider increasing their intake of PS. Research has shown that it can improve performance in sports such as golf, which require high levels of technical skill, through excellent motor control.
In contrast, there is also evidence showing that PS supplementation can improve endurance during high intensity exercise. Many leading exercise scientists are in agreement that the brain regulates muscle output – something known as central governor theory. So it seems that as PS can positively influence the brain, this can lead to improvements in various facets of exercise performance.
How Much PS Should Be Consumed?
From the research that has been performed on PS, it seems that a dose of 100-500 mg should be consumed per day to experience the aforementioned benefits. As it is challenging to achieve this dose through food alone, lecithin supplements are a convenient and popular choice.
Thankfully, research has shown that a dose of 600mg per day is very safe, especially when derived from soya beans. With those who are looking to take PS alongside DHA, a DHA intake of 250mg per day is recommended.
Phosphatidylserine is a very interesting nutrient that has been shown in the research to have numerous benefits to mental health and cognitive function. So if you have interest in supporting this area of your health, you should definitely consider including this nutrient in your diet.