Phosphatidylserine for Joy, Calm, and SleepFeb 12, 2021
By Henry Emmons, MD
Phosphatidylserine, or PS (pronounced fos-fah-tie-dul-SEER-een) is what is known as a “phospholipid”—that is, it’s made up of both a fatty acid and an amino acid. Your body makes it from the ingredients in food. It is found in every cell in the body and it has a multitude of important functions. One of its biggest roles is to provide structure and support for brain cell membranes so that they can communicate properly with one another. It provides crucial protection for our neurons as we age, helping to preserve memory. It has also been shown to improve focus, mood and stress-resilience.
Phosphatidylserine, Anxiety, and Depression
Phosphatidylserine is best known as a brain-supporting nutrient used to improve mental acuity and preserve memory as we age, when we become less able to produce it on our own. It has also been shown to improve depression, even the treatment-resistant type, when combined with the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (the kind found in our Strengthen supplement). There is also evidence that it may blunt the effects of chronic stress and reduce anxiety.
Phosphatidylserine and Sleep
Most of us with intermittent insomnia realize that it is stress-related. When we can’t stop ourselves from reacting to stressful things, the body does what it is designed to do—the adrenals release more cortisol. And when cortisol levels remain elevated through the night, deep sleep is reduced. After all, you really shouldn’t be sleeping deeply if there is an emergency, which your body thinks there is. And with lighter sleep, we awaken more often. Phosphatidylserine has been shown to reduce the body’s cortisol level whether it’s elevated by emotional stress or physiological stress (like vigorous exercise). So, when stress seems to be a reason for not sleeping, PS can be an effective antidote.
Phosphatidylserine Dosage and Use
The typical dose range for phosphatidylserine is 100-300 mg daily. Look for a product from plant-based sources, like soy or sunflower lecithin. It may be taken 2-3 times daily, with or without meals. If used for sleep, you can take the full dose at bedtime.
Of course, it's important to talk with you doctor before adding any supplement.
Phosphatidylserine Side Effects & Interactions
A naturally-occurring substance, your body is familiar with phosphatidylserine and doesn’t react against it. There are no known drug interactions or significant contraindications, though it has been suggested not to combine with blood thinners. It’s always a good idea to let your doctor know when you are adding supplements to medications. I have seen mild drowsiness or, paradoxically, occasional insomnia if taken too close to bedtime. But by and large it is very well-tolerated.
Phosphatidylserine Supplements at Natural Mental Health
Serene Sleep is a blend of herbs and nutrients designed to support the serotonin system and deepen sleep. It contains 100 mg of phosphatidylserine per serving (though we don't suggest folks start with the full serving of Serene Sleep).
Sharp Mind is a combination of herbs, amino acids and micronutrients to support brain health, especially focus and memory. It contains 15 mg per capsule of phosphatidylserine.
Stress Support is a blend of several herbal adaptogens plus the calming amino acids L-theanine and phosphatidylserine. It contains 100 mg of phosphatidylserine per daily dose.
*Note: Some of the supplements discussed in this article can cause side effects, but many people tolerate them much better than prescription medications. They are generally considered safe, however, they should not be started without your doctor’s knowledge and supervision. If you are taking medication already, be sure to talk with your doctor before adding any of these items. If you are considering going off medication, remember never to stop your medication suddenly—always consult with your doctor about how to safely taper off any psychiatric medication. See terms.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
- Kato-Kataoka, A., Sakai, M., Ebina, R., Nonaka, C., Asano, T., & Miyamori, T. (2010). Soybean-derived phosphatidylserine improves memory function of the elderly Japanese subjects with memory complaints. Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition, 47(3), 246–255. https://doi.org/10.3164/jcbn.10-62
- Komori T. (2015). The Effects of Phosphatidylserine and Omega-3 Fatty Acid-Containing Supplement on Late Life Depression. Mental illness, 7(1), 5647. https://doi.org/10.4081/mi.2015.5647
- Hellhammer J, Hero T, Franz N, Contreras C, Schubert M. Omega-3 fatty acids administered in phosphatidylserine improved certain aspects of high chronic stress in men. Nutr Res. 2012;32(4):241-50. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.03.003.
- Hellhammer, J., Fries, E., Buss, C., Engert, V., Tuch, A., Rutenberg, D., & Hellhammer, D. (2004). Effects of soy lecithin phosphatidic acid and phosphatidylserine complex (PAS) on the endocrine and psychological responses to mental stress. Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 7(2), 119–126. https://doi.org/10.1080/10253890410001728379
- Monteleone, P., Maj, M., Beinat, L., Natale, M., & Kemali, D. (1992). Blunting by chronic phosphatidylserine administration of the stress-induced activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy men. European journal of clinical pharmacology, 42(4), 385–388. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00280123