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Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a fatty substance called a phospholipid. It covers and protects the cells in your brain and carries messages between them.

Phosphatidylserine plays an important role in keeping your mind and memory sharp. Animal studies suggest that the level of this substance in the brain decreases with age.

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Why do people take phosphatidylserine?

Phosphatidylserine is taken to try to prevent memory loss and mental decline that may occur as you get older.

Several studies suggest that it may boost your brainpower. People who took the supplement scored higher on short-term memory, mood, and concentration tests. For example, they could better recall names and objects. But much more research is needed to confirm these results.

Scientists have used phosphatidylserine in studies to treat symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. But there is not enough evidence that phosphatidylserine is of any help in treating this condition.

Phosphatidylserine has been suggested in the treatment of the following conditions as well:

  • Depression in the elderly
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscle soreness and stress in athletes who overtrain
  • Familial dysautonomia (nervous system disorder)

But more research is needed before it can be recommended as a treatment for any of these conditions.

Can you get phosphatidylserine naturally from foods?

Phosphatidylserine occurs naturally in most foods.

The supplement used in early studies was made from brain cells taken from cattle. However, there are concerns that such a source could spread the virus that causes mad cow disease to people. So scientists have developed a type of phosphatidylserine from plant sources such as soy.

What are the risks of taking phosphatidylserine?

Many people can take the soy-derived supplement without any side effects. It is likely safe up to 600 milligrams a day for no more than 10 days. Side effects are more common at doses of 300 milligrams and above. They may include:

  • Gas
  • Stomach upset
  • Trouble sleeping

However, optimal doses of phosphatidylserine have not been established for any condition. Quality and active ingredients in supplements may vary widely from maker to maker. This makes it very hard to establish a standard dose.

Phosphatidylserine can affect how certain medicines work in your body. Talk to your doctor before taking this supplement if you also take:

  • Any type of blood thinner or have any blood-clotting problems
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines used for arthritis, headaches, or pain
  • Performance-enhancing drugs or supplements used to increase athletic performance or stamina

Always tell your doctor about any supplements you are taking, including natural ones and those bought without a prescription. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with any medications.

Supplements are not regulated by the FDA.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on December 07, 2012

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