Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid found in every single one of your neurons.
It makes up a large chunk of your brain’s lipid pool, and is essential for the formation of the myelin sheath around your nerves.
PS is one of those nootropics that can really give a boost to your mental performance.
Nootropic effects of Phosphatidylserine include:
- Neurogenesis – PS works together with omega-3 fatty acids to enhance the growth and survival of your brain cells.
- Improves Memory (Both Short-Term and Long-Term) – Phosphatidylserine encases every one of your brain cells. As a result, PS controls the fluidity and permeability of neurons. This neuroplasticity allows your brain cells to work optimally and form new links between each other. (1)
- Enhances Neurotransmitters – Without PS, your brain wouldn’t be able to synthesize or send chemical signals such as acetylcholine and dopamine. These two neurotransmitters are essential for the fluidity of thought, word recall, memory creation, and mood.
- Fights off Cognitive Decline – PS helps elderly people ward off cognitive decline by improving neuronal function as well as communication between brain cells.
If you’re wondering how PS does its magic in the brain. Here you’ll find the answer to your questions.
This article explains everything you need to know about this mighty nootropic.
What is PS?
Phosphatidylserine, or simply PS, is a phospholipid.
It’s used as a building block for your brain cells, helping form neuron membranes.
PS is found in all cells in your body, however, it’s densely concentrated in the brain.
In fact, phosphatidylserine makes up around 15% of your brain’s phospholipid pool. (2)
As such, it’s arguably one of the most important nootropics you’ll find.
How it Works
In the brain, phosphatidylserine has a number of important functions. These three particularly stand out:
- Phosphatidylserine is a building block for your neurons: PS supplies the brain with essential phospholipid building blocks for brain regeneration, plasticity, myelin sheath formation, and cell survival. In other words, PS enhances your brain’s resilience and neurogenesis – preventing cognitive decline as you age. (3, 4)
- Phosphatidylserine improves brain cell communication: The key to being able to think fast and remember memories vividly is in how your brain cells communicate. If there are problems in the communication between neurons, you’ll experience mood swings, mental fatigue, and memory issues. PS prevents this from happening – it keeps your brain cells fluid and permeable, which in turn improves their signaling. (5, 6)
- Neurogenesis is Phosphatidylserine’s specialty: Your brain loves it when it has plenty of DHA (an omega-3 fat) and PS at its disposal. These two work together to not only improve neuron communication. They also repair brain cells and clear out any toxins and waste from the cellular space. Research has shown that people who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases have lower DHA and PS levels in their brains. (7)
PS is so effective that it’s shown to reverse the damage to brain cells caused by aging.
A study review in 2015 found that (8):
“Exogenous Phosphatidylserine is absorbed efficiently in humans, crosses the blood-brain barrier, and safely slows, halts, or reverses biochemical alterations and structural deterioration in nerve cells.”
Phosphatidylserine’s Effects on Your Brain
PS is considered a nootropic for memory and thinking.
However, its complex and profound effects on the brain cells are shown to benefit all areas of your cognition – including focus, mood, mental clarity, and long-term brain health.
A study review from 2015 showed that PS supports a wide spectrum of cognitive functions, including (8):
- Memory formation and word recall
- Logic and problem solving
- Integration of long-term memory
- Communication skills
- Attention and focus
- Reflexes and reaction time
Below we take a look at which brain pathways PS exactly affects:
Brain Cell Survival (protection)
Here’s the thing:
Brain cells die.
And when they do, they become toxic.
Phosphatidylserine signals your immune system to clear out the waste that’s left after the neuron shuts down.
It’s just like a death knell – it rings a bell so your body knows when it’s time to kill off toxic cells.
This way, the degrading brain cell is collected and disposed of before it becomes damaging to the surrounding neurons. (9, 10)
Now, PS also protects your brain from stress.
See, phosphatidylserine blunts the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. (11)
Cortisol is usually not a threat to your brain.
But if you’re chronically stressed, cortisol can hinder your brain function. It can even lead to brain cell death.
Phosphatidylserine comes to the rescue here, exerting its anti-stress effect and thus contributing to a healthy and happy mind. (12)
PS is essential for brain energy production; if for no other reason, then because it’s involved in the very formation of the brain cell. And it allows the cell to function at its best.
But of course, there’s more to it than just that.
A human study found that PS supplementation also increases glucose metabolism in the brain. (13)
This resulted in improved oxygen and nutrient delivery, and, enhanced cognition.
In the study, researchers wrote (13):
“A repeated-measures ANOVA demonstrated significant increases (p < 0.01) of glucose metabolism in defined cortical and subcortical structures ranging up to 20.3% in basal ganglia/thalamus and 19.3% in visual cortex.” – PubMed
Yes, that’s a 20% increase in glucose metabolism in one part of the brain.
Not only does PS protect brain cells from damage.
It also helps in repairing and creating new neurons.
As a phospholipid, phosphatidylserine is an essential building block for your cell membranes.
When your neurons lack PS, they can lose their structural integrity.
This can lead to all sorts of cognitive defects: from memory issues, cognitive decline to brain degeneration. (14)
Brain Chemicals (Neurotransmitters)
Your neurons communicate by sending signals to each other in order to relay information.
These signals are chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters include dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine.
Research suggests phosphatidylserine enhances acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in thought and memory formation. (15)
By boosting acetylcholine levels, PS helps improve your cognitive function.
In addition, PS also helps boost dopamine production. Which has positive effects on your mood and motivation. (15)
Clinical Evidence of PS’ Benefits
#1 Phosphatidylserine Helps With ADHD
A study from Japan tested the effects of PS on 36 children between the age of 4-14 on their ADHD.
These children had trouble focusing, were impulsive, and had short-term memory issues.
The experts separated these kids into two groups:
One group received 200mg of PS daily for 2 months.
The second group received a placebo pill.
Before and after the study, the researchers recorded these children’s mental performance and ADHD symptoms.
It turned out, the group that supplemented with phosphatidylserine saw major improvements in their ADHD symptoms, memory, and focus.
The placebo group, on the other hand, saw no improvements. (16)