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Phosphatidylserine

PS / Sunflower Lecithin

Phosphatidylserine, also known as PS, is a naturally-occurring fatty acid (phospholipid) and a key component of human brain cells. With a lack of PS upkeep due to modern diets, many people supplement to keep their brain functioning at its most optimal level. With ‘brain optimisation’ being a perfect way to describe ones cognition when PS is supplemented. Showing great effects in athletic performance, mental agility & accuracy, all the way through to protecting your brain against the degeneration effect of ageing.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is found in every cell in the human body, but is particularly vital for healthy brain cells and thus for maintaining brain function and preventing brain cell damage. Essentially, PS helps to keep cell membranes healthy and allows them to make new connections – essential for brain communication & efficient cognition [source:1]. As we age the body begins to produce less PS, and therefore our cells start to age and weaken. When it comes to brain cells, this can mean that we start to find it harder to concentrate, make decisions, remember and learn [source:2]. 

One way of keeping brain cells young and healthy is by taking phosphatidylserine as a supplement, so that PS levels which diminish with age are given a boost. Studies have shown that phosphatidylserine helps improve cognitive function, socialisation, alertness, and memory, as well as enabling people to cope better under pressure [source:3]. PS can also help with cell function around the body and has been shown to be beneficial to athletes during intense exercise [source:4].

 

History

In 1941, phosphatidylserine was identified for the first time in New York. It was quickly identified as having important benefits to brain function, and by the 1970s was being manufactured as a drug to improve memory loss in the elderly. As research into PS and its effects increased, it proliferated in the pharmaceutical world and is now understood to have a number of positive effects on athletic performance, cognitive function and is even used as a natural treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease. 

Traditionally, humans would ingest PS through their diet, by eating PS-rich foods such as cow brains, chicken hearts and pig spleen. However, with the reduction in consumption of offal, most people now boost their PS levels by taking supplements, which are derived from extracts of soy or sunflower lecithin.

Originally, PS was produced by extracting it from cows’ brains. However, fear of the spread of bovine CJD (mad cow disease) led scientists to explore other ways of creating synthetic PS.
Whilst many natural nootropic companies often provide it from soya beans to sidestep the synthetically created version, if at all. However the inclusion of soy shuts off many people from benefitting. Enter Earthly Biotics who draw their PS from Sunflower Lecithin. A completely clean, natural earth grown form of PS.

 

Benefits

Phosphatidylserine has a number of benefits discovered through almost 80 years of scientific study. They include: 

  • Boosting Athletic Performance

  • Improving Mental Agility in Athletes

  • Preventing Brain Degeneration

  • Improving Memory

  • Reducing Stress

  • Enabling Relaxation

  • Combating ADHD

  • Fighting Alzheimer’s

  • Improving Parkinson’s Symptoms

  • Relieving Depression

 

Enhances Athletic Performance

Source : 5

Source : 5

Because phosphatidylserine is a key component of healthy cells, it has been found that athletes can benefit hugely by taking it as a daily supplement. In several studies, phosphatidylserine has been shown to decrease muscle damage and improve the body’s response to being put under stress. 

Source : 6

Source : 6

In 2007, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition  published research which looked at how healthy young sportsman might benefit from taking a daily dose of PS. This small study showed that just 6 weeks of taking PS daily was enough to reduce the competitors stress and to improve performance. [source:5]. Highly important for focus when under stress. 

The world of endurance sports has also seen benefits through PS supplementation. A recent study looked at the effects of phosphatidylserine on endurance using active male cyclists for accuracy over 10 days. The researchers found that a daily dose of PS allowed cyclists to increase their exercise time to exhaustion significantly at different outputs, essentially extending stamina and endurance [source:6].  

 

Improves Mental Agility & Accuracy

Source : 6

Source : 6

It is not just in physical performance that phosphatidylserine can be of benefit to athletes; numerous studies have shown that it also helps with sports psychology, reducing stress, improving alertness and cognitive function in array of sports including MMA, Crossfit, running, gymnastics, weightlifting and team sports.

Researchers at the NCBI have found that phosphatidylserine improved brain function, accuracy, response time and the body’s hormonal response before and after acute exercise. In the 14 day study, 18 athletes took phosphatidylserine or a placebo. At the end of the fortnight, the athletes trained intensely.  Blood samples were taken and cognitive function was measured before and after exercise. The trial showed that PS was hugely beneficial in terms of increasing cognitive function before exercise, and that athletes were better able to tolerate the exercise, due in part to PS’ effect on cortisol and testosterone levels.

The results were profound and conclusive, with the clinical trial citing;

“PS supplementation significantly reduced the time needed for a correct calculation on the SST by 20%, and reduced the total amount of errors by 39%, and increased the amount of correct calculations by 13%, prior to or in response to exercise compared to placebo [source:7].”

 

Prevents Brain Degeneration

Phosphatidylserine has been shown to slow down and even reverse memory loss from a number of clinical studies. 

In one 12-week study, 149 patients with age-related memory loss were given 100mg of PS or a placebo. There was improvement on both computerised and standard neuropsychological performance tests. The phosphatidylserine group performed better than the controls when tested on learning and remembering daily tasks [source:8].

Two further studies looked at the effect PS can have on mood, brain function and memory in the elderly. In both trials, patients took 300mg of PS a day, or a placebo. In the first study, phosphatidylserine was shown to improve the memory, behavior and symptoms in 10 elderly women suffering from depressive disorders [source:9]. The second trial was 6 months long and analysed the effect phosphatidylserine had on 494 ageing patients, all with cognitive impairment. PS was well-tolerated and also significantly benefitted the patients in terms of behaviour and brain function [source:10].

 

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Improves Memory

PS boosts your brain’s ability to think quickly and clearly. A great deal of research has shown that PS supplementation works well to also improve your memory as you age, and can even help Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. 

Researchers in Tel Aviv studied 18 healthy elderly volunteers suffering from a decline in cognition related to their age. Participants took a 100mg PS supplement 3 times a day for 12 weeks, and all but 2 found that their memory significantly improved at both the 6 and 12 week point of the trial [source:11].

 

Reduces Stress

Cortisol, the stress hormone, is significantly reduced when taking PS. This means that individuals can tolerate stress better and modulate their mood under pressure. The University of Wales Swansea has looked at the effect of taking PS on students in stress conditions. A group of healthy young adults were given a 300mg daily supplement of phosphatylserine for a month. When faced with a stressful mathematics exercise, these young people reported feeling less stressed and in a better mood [source:12]. PS is not therefore just of benefit to older people, but can have a positive impact on the young as well. 

 

Enables Relaxation

Phosphatidylserine has been found to reduce beta brain waves, which helps to encourage a more relaxed state of mind. A recent German study looked at the effect of PS supplementation in 16 healthy individuals over 42 days. Researchers measured beta brain waves before and after the study and found that the PS group were in a more relaxed state than the controls, and also that their beta brain wave levels were significantly lower [source:13].

 

Combats ADHD

In the modern day the majority of people suffer from shorter and shorter attention spans due to technology. This effect can lead in to ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) which is a condition in which sufferers demonstrate behaviour such as hyperactivity, inattention, or impulsivity. A number of studies have been conducted to try to establish whether phosphatidylserine can be of any benefit to those living with ADHD. 

In Japan, 36 children aged between 4 and 14 were given a daily PS supplement or a placebo over the course of 2 months. The children had all been diagnosed with ADHD but to date had not been conventionally treated for it. Researchers discovered that phosphatidylserine was of significant benefit to the children, reducing inattention, improving memory and lowering impulsivity. In contrast, the study saw no progress in the placebo/control group.
Concluding the study, in which they can reflect a natural resource as opposed to synthetic drugs given, they cite “PS supplementation might be a safe and natural nutritional strategy for improving mental performance" [source:14].

Further research has shown the PS can be particularly beneficial when combined with omega 3, especially for children who are very symptomatic of ADHD.  One 30-week study combined omega 3 with phosphatidylserine with and gave this to 200 children suffering from ADHD. Children proved to be less restless and impulsive, particularly within a subgroup of children who were emotionally and behaviorally-dysregulated and hyperactive-impulsive [source:15].

 

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Fights Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and can cause memory loss, the loss of the ability to communicate, think clearly, and perform essential daily tasks. Although phosphatidylserine cannot cure Alzheimer’s, studies have shown that it can reduce symptoms for some patients, particularly those less affected by the disease.

A 12-week trial which gave 51 Alzheimer’s patients a 100mg PS supplement every day found that PS showed promise in terms of combating Alzheimer’s onset [source:16].

Another study over 8 weeks showed that Alzheimer’s patients who took a daily 300mg dose of PS experienced an improvement in their overall well-being, although there was little difference in cognitive function between the supplement group and the controls [source:17].

Another recent study looked into the possible benefits of PS supplementation amongst 70 patients with probable Alzheimer’s. They took 200mg twice daily and researchers noted short-term improvements in mental function, although this seemed to reduce after 16 weeks [source:18].

Researchers have also analysed the connection between DHA (omega-3) and phosphatidylserine. It appears that together, DHA and PS prevent damage to brain cells. The brain is largely made up of DHA fat, and research has shown that there is a connection between Alzheimer’s and lower omega-3 intake. 

A Canadian study found a noticeable discrepancy in DHA levels of those with healthy brains, those with mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s sufferers. In both disease categories, DHA in phosphatidylserine was 12 to 14% lower [source:19].

 

Improves Parkinson’s Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition, causing a lack of motor function over time. It is associated with the degeneration of dopamine-producing brain cells, which means the brain becomes ineffective and unable to tell the different parts of the body when and how to move. 

Because phosphatidylserine is essential for the healthy functioning of the brain, research has been conducted into whether PS and Parkinson’s are connected. It has been found that Parkinson’s sufferers frequently have reduced levels of PS [source:20]; one trial found mood and cognitive function were both elevated by taking 100mg of PS 3 times a day[source:21].

 

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Relieves Depression

Those suffering from mental health conditions such as depression often present with low omega-3 and phosphatidylserine. An increase in omega-3 and PS intake, whether through diet or supplements, seems like an obvious natural treatment for depression.

A study of depression in elderly women found that taking 300mg of phosphatidylserine a day for a month reduced the seriousness of their depression. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, Gottfries-Bråne-Steen Rating Scale, Nurse's Observation Scale for Inpatient Evaluation and Buschke Selective Reminding Test were administered before and after placebo and after BC-PS therapy, to monitor changes in depression, memory and general behaviour.

Results showing PS induced consistent improvement of depressive symptoms, memory and behaviour.

 

Side Effects

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is widely considered to be safe and non-toxic, as it is already produced naturally by your body. It is generally well-tolerated. Occasionally, people taking a higher than recommended dose may encounter insomnia or an upset stomach. 

It is possible that some Alzheimer’s medications could interact with phosphatidylserine because both acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors and PS increase acetylcholine levels in the brain. Together, these drugs when used alongside PS could generate excess acetylcholine.

 

 

This information should be used for guidance only, please consult with a medical professional before taking any dietary supplement. Should you suffer from any ongoing medical conditions or have any concerns at all, consult your doctor in the first instance.

 

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References

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