The integrity and fluidity of cell membranes is determined by many important biomolecules. One such biomolecule is the chemical called phosphatidylserine, which is a major phospholipid found in the brain and other tissues. Cells in the brain synthesize sufficient levels of phosphatidylserine at most times. This synthesis can be affected when methyl donors including nutrients such as SAM, the folic acid, and vitamin B12, or any of the essential fatty acids are deficient. In such a situation, the brain cells might not be able to synthesize sufficient quantities of phosphatidylserine for the maintenance of normal cellular functioning. Phosphatidylserine can be found in trace amounts in plant based products like soy lecithin.

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Elderly people who have low levels of phosphatidylserine in the brain often have impaired mental functioning and are likely to come down with clinical depression.

Supplemental phosphatidylserine has been tried in animal studies and in human clinical trials. These studies have determined that supplements significantly boosted the release of acetylcholine in the neurons, boosted memory, and inhibited the onset of other age related changes in the brain of elderly people.

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Supplemental phosphatidylserine is principally employed in treating clinical depression or any impairment in mental functioning in elderly people. In this regard, the medication has brought about excellent results in numerous double-blind studies conducted on test patients. Four hundred ninety four elderly patients were studied during the largest double-blind study, all the patients were between sixty five to ninety three years old, all suffered from moderate to severe forms of senility. Participants in two groups were given phosphatidylserine or a placebo for six months at a stretch. At the end of the supplemental period, all the patients were studied for various parameters of mental performance, including behavior, and mood and the results were compared to the same parameters measured before the trial. The results showed statistically significant improvements in patients who were administered phosphatidylserine, all of them showed improved behavior, mental functioning and mood, compared to the group given placebos.

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Supplemental phosphatidylserine also led to significant improvement in many parameters of mental functioning in a double blind study of elderly patients suffering from clinical depression - the depressive symptoms, including memory, and behavior changed for the better after the supplemental regimen. Phosphatidylserine brings out the significant improvements in patients without altering the levels of serotonin and other monoamine neurotransmitters in the brain; this means that it works to beat depression by different biochemical pathways. One pathway that the supplements affect may be to improve the brain cell membrane fluidity in the brain of patients. The ability of phosphatidylserine to lower the secretion of the hormone cortisol may be another possible pathway. Cortisol is normally released in response to stress and tension and plays a big part in depression. Depression affected people always show significant increase in cortisol levels.

Depression hit elderly patients may also benefit from supplements of ginkgo biloba extract. Increasing the supply of nutrients that the brain requires for phosphatidylserine synthesis may also be a good idea. Supplements of the essential fatty acid will benefit such patients.

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Ginkgo biloba leaf extract, that has been standardized to contain ginkgo flavone glycosides at twenty four percent and terpenoids at six percent, is very effective in alleviating many of the aging specific symptoms. This supplement may be able to help Alzheimer's disease affected individuals by delaying or alleviating the symptoms in the early stages. The beneficial effects of supplementing with ginkgo biloba extract may keep patients away from a nursing home and help elderly patients stay independent for a longer time maintaining their normal routine. Forty elderly patients were tested in one study, they were all preliminarily diagnosed for senile dementia of the type induced by Alzheimer. Patients were split into two groups with one receiving eighty milligrams of ginkgo biloba extract, while another received a placebo. Doses of both were thrice a day for three months. At the end of the trail, all the patients in the study were assessed in standard tests and brain wave studies using EEG tracings at baseline and at intervals of one, two and three months from the end of the study. All the parameters that were measured were significantly improved by the ginkgo biloba extract, in fact patients reported feeling better within the first month itself. None of these benefits were seen in the group given placebos during the trial. The beneficial effects from the study were in keeping with results from other studies conducted using ginkgo biloba extract, in that the benefits were greater the longer the ginkgo biloba extract was used by the patients. There were no side effects or adverse reactions to the ginkgo biloba extract and all patients tolerated the extract well during the course of the study.

Phosphatidylserine is useful for treating senile dementia - a condition wherein there is confusion in aged people. It may be noted that phosphatidylserine prepared from the brains of cows appears to enhance memory in aged people enduring failing thinking abilities; language skills as well as attention. However, it remains to be ascertained whether or not the latest phosphatidylserine products that have been made from cabbage and soy will deliver equally effective benefits. Nevertheless, there is increasing proof that phosphatidylserine derived from plants help to enhance memory in individuals who are enduring memory loss related to the aging process.

Scientists have found that phosphatidylserine has the aptitude to put off muscle aches, accelerate recovery, augment general health and happiness and it may possibly also have ergogenic attributes that enhance the performance of sportspersons involved in endurance running, weight training and cycling. Taking phosphatidylserine derived from soy in dependent doses (about 400 mg) is said to be an effectual supplement in neutralizing stress induced by exercises, as it blunts the actions of surplus levels of cortisol that have been induced by exercises. In fact, it has been found that using phosphatidylserine supplements helps to encourage the hormonal equilibrium that is much sought after by athletes. At the same time, these supplements may possibly assuage the physiological weakening that occurs together with excessive training or stretching too much. The findings of a number of researches undertaken recently demonstrate that phosphatidylserine can lift the mood of a group of young people when they are under mental duress and also enhance the precision of the golfers during tee-off by means of enhancing their resistance to stress.

Usual dosage

During their research, scientists have studied that it is best to take phosphatidylserine orally in dosage of 100 mg thrice every day for treating conditions like Alzheimer's disease, impaired memory as well as thinking problems due to old age.

Side effects and cautions

Use of phosphatidylserine by subjects in research studies continuously for a period of six months has led the scientists to conclude that it is safe for majority of the people. Nevertheless, using phosphatidylserine may result in a number of adverse effects, such as stomach disorder and sleeplessness, especially when it is taken in excessive dosage above 300 mg daily.

In addition, scientists are concerned that using phosphatidylserine products prepared from animal sources may possibly pass on diseases, for instance, mad cow disease. Although there has not been any incidence of people taking phosphatidylserine derived from animals having any animal diseases till date, it is advisable that you need to remain on the safer side and always try to buy and use phosphatidylserine supplements prepared from plant sources.

It may be noted that there is very little information regarding the effects of phosphatidylserine supplementation on pregnant women as well as nursing mothers. Therefore, such women are advised to remain on the safer side and avoid these supplements.


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