Nutrition Notes

The Importance of Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a member of a group of molecules called phospholipids, which consist of lipids joined together by a phosphate group, and these are the backbone of cell membranes. Although they are part of all human cells, research has shown that phospholipids are especially abundant in the nervous system. Phospholipids have the potential to improve age-related cognitive decline and the potential to attenuate the negative effects of stress in certain populations.

Imbalances in phospholipid metabolism, signaling, and transport have been associated with conditions such as dementia, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, and some stress-related disorders. Studies have shown that diets rich in phospholipids, including soybeans, egg yolks, fish, and lean meats, may possess therapeutic effects to support human health in the presence of stress-related conditions. In addition, animal studies have shown that supplementation with phospholipids was associated with improvements in learning.

PS has been shown in research to be particularly supportive of brain health. Within the cell, PS plays essential roles in many signal cascades and endocytosis. PS influences numerous neurotransmitter systems including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, and it is considered one of the most important brain nutrients. Animal studies have demonstrated that PS has shown neuroprotective effects in the presence of stress hormones. PS has also been shown to facilitate self-renewal of neurospheres, which are valuable in understanding adult stem cells in the central nervous system and neurogenesis.

Recent research describes the location and migration of PS molecules as potentially consequential in immunologic pathways. In homeostatic conditions, PS is generally not exposed to the outside of the cell. When PS molecules become dysregulated and relocate from the inner surface of the cellular membrane to the external surface, this initiates a complex set of immune-modulatory signals that have been linked to a variety of diseases including certain virus-related illnesses and cancers.

PS has also been shown to be a potentially supportive nutrient for individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial assessed the efficacy of PS supplementation in children with ADHD. The children in the treatment arm were given 200 mg of PS daily for 2 months. Children who received PS supplementation showed improvements in social skills and classroom behavior. They also showed significant improvements in short-term auditory memory and inattention.

PS is a phospholipid that has been shown to support cognitive health at different stages of life and in the presence of stress. PS also has a promising role in the future research of immune modulation that could impact many conditions.

By Colleen Ambrose, ND, MAT