A Remarkable Brain Cell Nutrient
Phosphatidyl serine (PS) is a naturally-occurring phospholipid and is similar to other phospholipids that include phosphatidyl choline (PC) and phosphatidyl inositol (PI). Until recently, commercial lecithin contained only trace amounts, but new products include enriched powdered compounds, softgel capsules, and even liquid blends. Recent breakthroughs in technology have made phosphatidyl serine (derived from soy) available commercially in a concentrated form. It is considered an important dietary supplement for the support of brain function.
Essential to Functioning of All the Cells of the Body
The concentrated phosphatidyl serine (PS) derived from soy phospholipids and clinical studies have shown that when it is taken on a regular basis, it can help adults maintain and improve learning and memory. Phosphatidyl serine is essential to the functioning of all the cells of the body, but it is most concentrated in the brain. Human research studies dating back to the '70s indicate that phosphatidyl serine tends to decline with age and that supplementation can benefit many cognitive functions (the capacity to think and reason). Some 35 human studies span almost three decades, according to Parris M. Kidd, Ph.D.
Numerous other studies involved subjects with existing, measurable losses in memory, judgment, loss of abstract thought, and loss of other higher mental functions, and in some cases, changes in personality and behavior. The results of the studies showed conclusively that, in mature adults, PS helped maintain cognition, concentration, and related mental functions. The dosages of these studies ranged from 200 mg to 300 mg a day.
Subjects Showed Significant Improvement
In two of the studies conducted in 1991, Thomas Crook, Ph.D., of the Memory Assessment Clinics, Bethesda, Maryland, studied 149 subjects between the ages of 50 and 75. The patients received either a placebo or 300 mg of phosphatidyl serine (100 mg three times a day) in a double-blind study for 12 weeks. The subjects showed significant improvement with the following functions:
- Name-Face Recall. Learning and matching of names with faces.
- First-Last Names. First and last names presented, then last names given for pairing with the first names. Also assesses verbal memory.
- Face Recognition. A test of visual memory.
- Grocery List. To help assess verbal learning and memory.
- Telephone Dialing. Memorize and retain a telephone number, under different conditions of delay and distraction.
- Misplaced Objects. Placement and recall of keys, glasses, other common household objects -- verbal-visual associative memory.
- Divided Attention. Simulates driving a car, also recall of radio reports while driving. Reaction time and verbal vocabulary memory.
Reduced Cognitive Age
The benefits were greatest in those with the most impaired memories. The benefits persisted at least four weeks after the supplementation was discontinued. The researchers noted that phosphatidyl serine (PS) reduced the "cognitive age" of 64 to the cognitive age of 52 -- roughly 12 years of improvement! This was a win in the case of name-face recognition.
I met with Parris M. Kidd, Ph.D., in 1996 at the Natural Products Expo West convention in Anaheim, CA, and again at a convention in Nashville where he spoke. He said that when phosphatidyl serine is taken orally, it is rapidly absorbed and readily crosses the blood-brain barrier. Normal aging can bring about neurotransmitter disturbances, metabolic decline, and nerve connection dropout.
Dr. Kidd believes PS makes clinically measurable contributions to all of these brain functions, and furthermore, toxicological studies have shown it to be completely safe without side effects.
Memory and Learning Improved
Dr. Kidd pointed out a study in 1993 by an Italian doctor who carried out a major, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 125 subjects aged 65 to 93. They came from 23 institutions in northern Italy and all suffered from moderate to severe cognitive decline. Following six months of phosphatidyl serine supplementation, scores on memory and learning improved significantly. In addition, scores on standardized neuropsychological tests for withdrawal and apathy also improved. The investigator concluded, "These observations are remarkable, particularly since . . . the large number of subjects enrolled . . . represents the geriatric population commonly encountered in clinical practice."
At the conclusion of an Italian study the author stated, "Phosphatidyl serine appears to exert an action in two distinct contexts: one relating to the cognitive effects of vigilance, attention and short-term memory, and the other relating to behavioral aspects such as apathy, withdrawal, and daily living."
Supplements are Necessary
Since phosphatidyl serine is not found readily in common foods, supplementation with the concentrated product may prove to be highly desirable, particularly to mature adults experiencing a decline in mental ability. Phosphatidyl serine may be taken in combination with a healthy diet, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other appropriate nutrients, as part of an integrated total nutrition program that includes exercise.
According to Dr. Kidd, to prevent or even reverse the symptoms of brain aging, it is a good idea to take this product for a period of time to see if you can obtain results. There are new "brain formulas" in your nutrition store that contain this product, or it can be purchased as pure phosphatidyl serine (PS) in softgels.
- Kidd, Parris M., Ph.D. "Phosphatidyl serine and Aging." Healthy & Natural Journal 2.5.
- Crook, T. H., et al. "Effects of phosphatidyl serine in age-associated memory impairment." Neurology 41 (1991): 644–649.
- Cenacchi, B., et al. "Cognitive decline in the elderly: A double-blind placebo controlled multi-centered study on efficacy of phosphatidyl serine administration." Aging—Clinical and Experimental Research 5 (1993): 123–133.
- Palmieri, G., et al. "Double-blind controlled trial of PS in subjects with senile mental deterioration." Clinical Trials Journal 24 (1987): 73–83.
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