Beneficial Effects of Phosphatidylserine on Cognitive Function

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a crucial phospholipid that facilitates communication between cells.1

Found in many foods and available as a supplement, research indicates PS can support our memory function and overall brain function.2

How does phosphatidylserine promote mental function?

PS is found in high concentrations in nervous and brain tissues.1 PS is a fat-soluble molecule that crosses the blood-brain barrier, with studies suggesting it may support mental focus.

This fat-soluble substance not only helps support brain function, it also allows our cognitive faculties to appropriately manage the trillions of nerve cell connections.3

Research indicates supplementation with PS may help to strengthen our abilities for communication, concentration, recall, memory, and more.2 Phosphatidylserine has been studied to support brain function at various ages.3,7

Where can you find phosphatidylserine?

Initially sources of PS, including supplements, came from the neurons of cattle brains. However, the global outbreak of “Mad Cow Disease” during the late 1990s and early 2000s prompted many researchers to develop alternative forms of phosphatidylserine. Today, most PS supplements are made from soybeans and cabbage derivatives.4,5

Both bovine brains and soybeans are rich in PS, and they make up the main ingredients of most phosphatidylserine supplements. That said, they aren’t the only sources of the phospholipid. Other foods that contain high amounts of PS include:4

  • Organ meats like liver, kidneys, and hearts
  • White beans
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products

It’s worth noting that the PS in soybeans and other plant sources aren’t structurally identical to the PS in cattle brains.4 Nonetheless, studies show both forms similarly support the mind and memory.6,7

What does research say about phosphatidylserine?

Scientists have found that PS can support memory function and improve mental sharpness.1

Researchers from Japan revealed that soybean-derived PS can improve the memory of elderly people facing cognitive decline. Published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, experts conducted a double-blind study in which 78 people with mild cognitive impairment took either a PS supplement or a placebo over six months.6

The results showed that the PS-treated participants substantially improved their memory, while the memory of the placebo-treated group remained the same.6

Similarly, a separate double-blind study treated 149 patients with age-associated memory impairment (AAMI) over the course of 12 weeks.7 Again, the participants were given either a PS supplement—this time made of bovine cortex—or a placebo.7

The researchers found that participants treated with PS showed greater improvements in their learning and memory. In turn, those who performed at the lowest levels before starting treatment were more likely to respond to the supplement.7

This reinforces the hypothesis that phosphatidylserine can be useful for memory function in elderly patients.7

In conclusion, research suggests phosphatidylserine can support mental focus, a healthy endocrine response to acute mental stress, and mental performance with minimal side effects.6-8 However, those interested in taking a phosphatidylserine supplement should contact their healthcare practitioner before doing so. While the phospholipid is considered safe, a practitioner should still be consulted to ensure appropriate use.1

Learn more about phosphatidylserine here.

For more information on nutrition and cognitive health, please visit the Metagenics blog.


  1. WebMD Staff. WebMD. Accessed April 5, 2019.
  2. Glade MJ et al. Nutrition. 2015;31(6):781-786.
  3. Rowe K. BrainMD. Accessed April 9, 2019.
  4. Elsass P. Livestrong. Accessed April 9, 2019.
  5. Center for Food Safety. Accessed April 22, 2019.
  6. Kato-Kataoka A et al. Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition. 2010;47(3): 246-255.
  7. Crook TH et al. Neuroscience. 1991;41(5):644-649.
  8. Hirayama S et al. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 2014;Suppl. 2:284-291.

Submitted by the Metagenics Marketing Team

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