Health & Wellness Increase Endurance Muscle Gain Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine for cognition and cortisol management

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Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a naturally occurring phospholipid. It is most abundant in organs with high metabolic activity such as brain, heart, liver, lungs and skeletal muscles [1]. Because of its presence in the brain, phosphatidylserine has been extensively studied in regard to its actions on brain functions. Phosphatidylserine is also marketed as a sports supplement, claimed to aid bodybuilders and power athletes.

Memory and Cognition

Studies suggest phosphatidylserine has an effect on neurotransmitters that may play a role in cognitive functions. It has been shown that treatment with phosphatidylserine enhances cholinergic neurotransmission [2,3] and even increases the turnover of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain [4].

In 1986 Delwaide et al. [5] reported that patients suffering from senile dementia improved their cognitive disorder with oral phosphatidylserine supplementation (derived from bovine brain cortex). Bovine brain cortex derived phosphatidylserine has also been shown to shift EEG power more towards the normal level in patients with mild primary degenerative dementia [6]; improved behavioral and cognitive parameters were also observed [7] as well as improved learning and memory in aged rodents [8,10].

However, because of concerns about mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy [BSE]) [9], commercially available products are now made from cabbage or soy. Although the fatty acid composition of soybean lecithin phosphatidylserine is quite different from that of bovine brain [11], it has been reported to have comparable effects on cognition when compared with bovine brain cortex derived phosphatidylserine [10]. However, beneficial results were reproduced in animal subjects [11-13], while clinical studies remain controversial [14-17].

After 3 months of 300 mg soy-phosphatidylserine, cognitive improvement was reported in elderly humans [15]. Same was reported by Crook et al. [16]. In a double-blind placebo-controlled study by Jorissen et al. [14] failed to find any beneficial effects of soybean-derived PS (300 or 600 mg/day for 12 weeks) on any aspect of cognitive function including memory, information processing speed, selective attention and planning. A more recent double-blind placebo-controlled study in seventy-eight elderly people with mild cognitive impairment reported significantly improved memory scores relative to placebo [17].

Phosphatidylserine as Sport Nutrient

During exhaustive intermittent exercise protocol where 14 subjects consumed 750 mg of soybean-derived PS for 10 days, more than 30% reduced time to fatigue was reported without affected serum cortisol levels [18]. While study in downhill runners reported no benefits for muscle soreness, markers of muscle damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress [19].

Hormonal Interaction

Phosphatidylserine has gained some popularity among athletes as it may promote a desirable hormonal balance via blunted release of cortisol following heavy resistance training. This claims are based on a modest evidence reported by few studies showing benefit [1,20,21]. Two small studies reported that 400 and 800 mg of PS taken daily reduces the cortisol rise up to 30% [20-21]. Other studies failed to significantly influence cortisol [18,19,22].

Phosphatidylserin supplementation has no effects on plasma concentrations of lactate, growth hormone [1] and testosterone levels [1,22].

Phosphatidylserine Side Effects and Safety

Phosphatidylserine is considered safe when used at recommended dosages. Supplementing with up to 600 mg of phosphatidylserin for 12 weeks has not been associated with any adverse effects [23].

Phosphatidylserine is sometimes coupled with Ginkgo Biloba because they both appear to enhance cognition. Since ginkgo is known to be a “blood thinner”, PS might be one too as it was reported to enhance the effect of heparin (very strong prescription blood thinner) [24]. So, caution is advised.


  1. Starks, Michael A., et al. “The effects of phosphatidylserine on endocrine response to moderate intensity exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 5.1 (2008): 1-6.
  2. Casamenti, Fiorella, Carla Scali, and Giancarlo Pepeu. “Phospatidylserine reverses the age-dependent decrease in cortical acetylcholine release: a microdialysis study.” European journal of pharmacology 194.1 (1991): 11-16.
  3. Chung, Shu-Ying, et al. “Administration of phosphatidylcholine increases brain acetylcholine concentration and improves memory in mice with dementia.” The Journal of nutrition 125.6 (1995): 1484-1489.
  4. Toffano, G., et al. “Modification of noradrenergic hypothalamic system in rat injected with phosphatidylserine liposomes.” Life sciences 23.10 (1978): 1093-1101.
  5. Delwaide, P. J., et al. “Double‐blind randomized controlled study of phosphatidylserine in senile demented patients.” Acta neurologica scandinavica 73.2 (1986): 136-140.
  6. Engel, Rolf R., et al. “Double-blind cross-over study of phosphatidylserine vs. placebo in patients with early dementia of the Alzheimer type.” European Neuropsychopharmacology 2.2 (1992): 149-155.
  7. Cenacchi, Teresa, et al. “Cognitive decline in the elderly: a double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study on efficacy of phosphatidylserine administration.” Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 5.2 (1993): 123-133.
  8. Zanotti, A., L. Valzelli, and G. Toffano. “Chronic phosphatidylserine treatment improves spatial memory and passive avoidance in aged rats.” Psychopharmacology 99.3 (1989): 316-321.
  9. Can phosphatidylserine improve memory and cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s disease?”. Retrieved 25. May 2014
  10. Blokland, Arjan, et al. “Cognition-enhancing properties of subchronic phosphatidylserine (PS) treatment in middle-aged rats: comparison of bovine cortex PS with egg PS and soybean PS.” Nutrition 15.10 (1999): 778-783.
  11. Suzuki, Satoru, et al. “Oral administration of soybean lecithin transphosphatidylated phosphatidylserine improves memory impairment in aged rats.” The Journal of nutrition 131.11 (2001): 2951-2956.
  12. Osella, Maria Cristina, et al. “Phosphatidylserine (PS) as a potential nutraceutical for canine brain aging: A review.” Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 3.2 (2008): 41-51.
  13. Lee, Bombi, et al. “Krill phosphatidylserine improves learning and memory in Morris water maze in aged rats.” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 34.6 (2010): 1085-1093.
  14. Jorissen, B.L. “The influence of soy-derived phosphatidylserine on cognition in age-associated memory impairment.” Nutritional neuroscience 4 (2001): 121-134.
  15. Gindin, J., et al. “The effect of plant phosphatidylserine on age-associated memory impairment and mood in the functioning elderly.” Rehovot, Israel: Geriatric Institute for Education and Research, and Department of Geriatrics, Kaplan Hospital (1995).
  16. Crook T.H. In: Treatment of age-related cognitive decline: effects of phosphatidylserine, in Anti-Aging Medical Therapeutics. Vol. II. Katz R.M., Goldman R., editors. Health Quest Publications; Marina del Rey, Carfornia: 1998.
  17. Kato-Kataoka, Akito, et al. “Soybean-derived phosphatidylserine improves memory function of the elderly Japanese subjects with memory complaints.” Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition 47.3 (2010): 246.
  18. Kingsley, Michael I., et al. “Effects of phosphatidylserine on exercise capacity during cycling in active males.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 38.1 (2006): 64-71.
  19. Kingsley, Michael I., et al. “Phosphatidylserine supplementation and recovery following downhill running.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 38.9 (2006): 1617-1625.
  20. Fahey, T. D., and M. Pearl. “Hormonal effects of phosphatidylserine during 2 weeks of intense training.” Abstract submitted to national meeting of the Amer College of Sports Medicine. 1998.
  21. Fahey, T. D., and M. S. Pearl. “The hormonal and perceptive effects of phosphatidylserine administration during two weeks of resistive exercise-induced overtraining.” Biology of Sport 15.3 (1998): 135-144.
  22. Parker, Adam G., et al. “The effects of IQPLUS Focus on cognitive function, mood and endocrine response before and following acute exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 8.1 (2011): 16.
  23. Jorissen, B. L., et al. “Safety of soy-derived phosphatidylserine in elderly people.” Nutritional neuroscience 5.5 (2002): 337-343.
  24. Van den Besselaar, A. M. “Phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylserine synergistically promote heparin’s anticoagulant effect.” Blood coagulation & fibrinolysis: an international journal in haemostasis and thrombosis 6.3 (1995): 239-244.