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Phosphatidylserine

What Should I Know About It?

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Updated August 01, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Phosphatidylserine is a chemical produced naturally by the body. Also available in certain foods, phosphatidylserine is sold in a dietary supplement form as well. Phosphatidylserine supplements are touted as a natural remedy for a wide range of health conditions.

A key component of the cell membrane, phosphatidylserine is essential to cell-to-cell communication and transfer of biochemical messages into the cell (especially within the brain and central nervous system).

Benefits of Phosphatidylserine

A number of studies suggest that use of phosphatidylserine supplements may offer certain health benefits. Here's a look at some key findings on the health effects of phosphatidylserine:

1) Exercise

Phosphatidylserine supplements may help boost exercise capacity and improve athletic performance, according to a 2006 report published in Sports Medicine. In their analysis of the available research on use of phosphatidylserine supplements among exercising humans, the report's authors also found that phosphatidylserine may help decrease muscle soreness and protect against the increase in levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) that often occurs as a result of overtraining.

Related: Natural Relief for Sore Muscles.

2) Memory

Phosphatidylserine may help improve memory function in older adults, suggests a 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. For the study, 78 elderly people with mild cognitive impairment were assigned to six months of treatment with phosphatidylserine supplements, or a placebo. In tests performed at the end of the six-month period, participants with relatively low memory scores at the start of the study were found to have experienced a significant improvement in memory.

Find out about Natural Ways to Improve Memory.

3) Depression

Preliminary research indicates that phosphatidylserine holds promise in the treatment of depression. In a 2004 study published in Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, for example, tests on rats demonstrated that phosphatidylserine may offer an antidepressive effect. However, more research is needed before phosphatidylserine supplements can be recommended for treatment of depression in humans.

See Depression Remedies: 8 Natural Treatments to Consider.

4) ADHD

Using phosphatidylserine in combination with omega-3 fatty acids may aid in the treatment of ADHD in children, suggests a 2012 study published in European Psychiatry.

For the study, 200 children with ADHD were assigned to 15 weeks of treatment with either a placebo or supplements containing phosphatidylserine and omega-3 fatty acids. Study results revealed that participants treated with the combination of phosphatidylserine and omega-3 fatty acids experienced a significantly greater reduction in hyperactive/impulsive behavior and a greater improvement in mood (compared to those given the placebo).

Uses for Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine supplements are said to treat and/or prevent many health problems, including:

In addition, phosphatidylserine supplements are purported to preserve memory, promote healthy sleep, improve mood, and enhance exercise performance.

Side Effects of Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine may trigger a number of side effects, including insomnia and stomach upset.

Food Sources

Phosphatidylserine is available in a number foods, including soy, egg yolks, chicken liver, and beef liver.

Where to Find Phosphatidylserine

Widely available for purchase online, phosphatidylserine supplements are sold in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Sources

Authors not listed. "Phosphatidylserine. Monograph." Altern Med Rev. 2008 Sep;13(3):245-7.

Castilho JC, Perry JC, Andreatini R, Vital MA. "Phosphatidylserine: an antidepressive or a cognitive enhancer?" Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Jul;28(4):731-8.

Kato-Kataoka A, Sakai M, Ebina R, Nonaka C, Asano T, Miyamori T. "Soybean-derived phosphatidylserine improves memory function of the elderly Japanese subjects with memory complaints." J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2010 Nov;47(3):246-55.

Kingsley M. "Effects of phosphatidylserine supplementation on exercising humans." Sports Med. 2006;36(8):657-69.

Manor I, Magen A, Keidar D, Rosen S, Tasker H, Cohen T, Richter Y, Zaaroor-Regev D, Manor Y, Weizman A. "The effect of phosphatidylserine containing Omega3 fatty-acids on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in children: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, followed by an open-label extension." Eur Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;27(5):335-42.

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