Phosphatidylserine: A Builder of Strong Minds?

April 15, 2006

Students have asked me about the supplement phosphatidylserine (PS), which is used by body builders and is also touted as a memory aid. I have searched the medical literature but have found PS discussed only in conjunction with cell apoptosis. Can you give me any information about this supplement?

Students have asked me about the supplement phosphatidylserine (PS), which is used by body builders and is also touted as a memory aid. I have searched the medical literature but have found PS discussed only in conjunction with cell apoptosis. Can you give me any information about this supplement?- June Neely, MD
   Blacksburg, Va

I have certainly seen advertisements stating that PS supplements are beneficial for brain function. However, although PS concentration is higher in the brain than in other tissues, I know of no scientific evidence that dietary PS improves memory. PS is a phospholipid that is present in all cell membranes; therefore, it is taken in with a normal diet. The digestive system breaks down any dietary PS into serine (a common amino acid present in all proteins), fatty acids (a component of all fats), and glycerol (also a component of all fats). Consequently, it is unlikely that dietary PS reaches the circulation intact. Even if intact PS were to enter the bloodstream, it is unlikely that it would cross the blood-brain barrier.
- Jean E. Vance, PhD
   Professor of Medicine
   Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism
   University of Alberta
   Edmonton