Difficulty learning new things or recalling memories is a normal part of aging, but just because it’s normal, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to protect cognitive function and even enhance learning, concentration, and memory as you age.
Memory loss (amnesia) can be caused by injury or illness, such as concussion or a brain infection, and can also result from deficiencies in key nutrients, such as vitamins B1 and B12, and healthy proteins and fats, including phospholipids. Even marginal deficiencies in these nutrients can contribute to general forgetfulness, slow recall, and poor concentration.
Nutrient deficiencies may arise due to poor diet or nutrient absorption, smoking, and the use of some medications. Deficiencies can also occur when the body’s ability to produce certain nutrients declines, and/or when the body’s demand for nutrients increases.
Phosphatidylserine is one such nutrient where production decreases as we get older, while demand increases due to a greater need to protect cells from age-related damage.
Phosphatidylserine – nature’s key to memory
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid – a type of fat that helps maintain healthy cell membrane function and structure so that cells can better communicate with other cells. PS is highly concentrated in brain tissue, where it supports:
- Healthy nerve cell membranes and myelin
- Nerve cell function
- The movement of nutrients in and out of the cells
- Normal cell growth
- Cellular communication
- Cellular energy production
- The production of key neurotransmitters including acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.
(Kim et al., 2014; Glade & Smith, 2015.)
These effects of PS contribute to healthy cognition, concentration, and memory, with a report published in the journal Nutrition in 2015 by Glade & Smith noting that “PS (300–800 mg/d) is absorbed efficiently in humans, crosses the blood-brain barrier, and safely slows, halts, or reverses biochemical alterations and structural deterioration in nerve cells.”
Glade & Smith looked at 127 articles investigating PS and found that the phospholipid supports rapid reactions and reflexes as well as our ability to:
- Form short-term memories
- consolidate long-term memories
- Create new memories
- Retrieve memories
- Learn and recall information
- Focus attention and concentrate
- Reason and solve problems
- Communicate and use language skills
As such, inadequate dietary or supplemental intake of PS as we age could result in cognitive decline, including poor memory.
A significant boost for memory and learning
In one of the largest studies (a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial), over 400 older adults with cognitive decline were given either 300 mg of supplemental PS for six months or a placebo and monitored for changes in cognitive function. Only the group taking PS showed significant improvements in behaviour, memory, and learning (Cenacchi et al., 1993).
Improvements in sustained attention and memory recognition were also seen in another study where older adults with memory complaints (but without dementia) took 100 mg of phosphatidylserine enriched with docosahexaenoic acid daily for 15 weeks (Vakhapova et al., 2014).
Research suggests that PS has the greatest potential benefit when taken in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 32 patients with AD who took 300 mg of PS daily for 12 weeks had increases in vocabulary and picture matching scores, with evidence of decreases in pathological changes in brain tissue, compared to 25 patients taking placebo (Zhang et al., 2014).
Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study found similar improvements in cognitive function in 31 patients with AD who took 300 mg of PS plus 240 mg of phosphatidic acid daily, with the supplement also seen to prevent “winter blues” (Moré et al., 2014).
PS, stress, and mood
PS may also have a role to play in helping people manage stress, with one study involving young, healthy men finding that those taking 400 mg of PS daily for two weeks had improved cognitive function prior to exercise, compared to those receiving a placebo (Parker et al., 2011). Another study observed that healthy people given PS for 42 days showed a higher degree of relaxation before and after induced stress as measured using an electroencephalogram (Baumeister et al., 2008).
Highly-absorbable, non-GMO, and soy-free!
Natural Factors PS Phosphatidylserine features Sharp-PS® GREEN, a highly absorbable and stable form of PS that is 100% soy-free. Derived from non-GMO sunflower oil, this source of PS is ideal for those who want to support memory and cognitive function naturally, but who are sensitive to soy-based products.
Every capsule of Natural Factors PS Phosphatidylserine contains 565 mg of phosphatidylserine-enriched sunflower lecithin from Helianthus annuus seed. This provides 100 mg of phosphatidylserine alongside naturally occurring phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylinositol (PI), and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE).
Natural Factors PS Phosphatidylserine is not intended for use by children. Anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their health care practitioner prior to using this supplement, as should anyone who is taking blood thinners.
Natural Factors PS Phosphatidylserine featuring Sharp-PS® GREEN is ideal for anyone looking for a natural way to support cognitive function, especially later in life or at times of stress.
Natural Factors PS Phosphatidylserine offers a natural way to keep brain cells in tip-top health, supporting memory and mental performance.