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A sticker with the words Phosphatidyl Serine, known for its ability to rebuild neurons and myelin sheaths.

How To Rebuild Your Neurons’ Myelin Sheaths

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PS: We Love You

Phosphatidylserine, or “PS” for short, is a phospholipid found in the brain. In other words, a kind of fatty compound that is such stuff as our brains are made of.

In particular, it’s required for healthy nerve cell membranes and myelin (the protective sheath that neurons live in—basically, myelin sheaths do for neurons what telomere caps do for DNA).

For an overview that’s more comprehensive than we have room for here, check out:

Phosphatidylserine and the human brain

Many people take it as a supplement.

Does taking it as a supplement work?

This is a valid question, as a lot of supplements can’t be absorbed well, and/or can’t pass the blood-brain barrier. But, as the above-linked study notes:

❝Exogenous 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. It supports human cognitive functions, including the formation of short-term memory, the consolidation of long-term memory, the ability to create new memories, the ability to retrieve memories, the ability to learn and recall information, the ability to focus attention and concentrate, the ability to reason and solve problems, language skills, and the ability to communicate. It also supports locomotor functions, especially rapid reactions and reflexes.❞

~ Glade & Smith.

(“Exogenous” means “coming from outside of the body”, as opposed to “endogenous”, meaning “made inside the body”. Effectively, in this context “exogenous” means “taken as a supplement”.)

Why do people take it?

The health claims for phosphatidylserine fall into two main categories:

  1. Neuroprotection (helping your brain to avoid age-related decline in the long term)
  2. Cognitive enhancement (helping your brain work better in the short term)

What does the science say?

There’s a lot of science that’s been done on the neuroprotective properties of PS, and there are thousands of studies we could draw from here. The upshot is that regular phosphatidylserine supplementation (most often 300mg/day, but studies are also found for 100–500mg/day) is strongly associated with a reduction in cognitive decline over the course of 12 weeks (a common study duration). Here are a some spotlight studies showing this:

Note: PS can be derived from various sources, with the two most common forms being bovine (i.e., from cow brains) or soy-derived.

There is no established difference in the efficacy of these.

There have been some concerns raised about the risk of CJD (the human form of BSE, as in “mad cow disease”) from consuming brain matter from cows, but studies have not found any evidence of this actually happening.

There is also some evidence that phosphatidyserine significantly boosts cognitive performance, even in young people with no extant cognitive decline, for example:

The effects of [phosphatidylserine supplementation] on cognitive function, mood and endocrine response before and following acute exercise

(as the title suggests, they did also test for its effect on mood and endocrine response, but found it made no difference to those, just the cognitive function—which enjoyed a boost before exercise, as well as after it, meaning that the boost wasn’t dependent on the exercise)

PS for cognitive enhancement in the young and healthy is not nearly so well-explored as its use as a later-life guard against age-related cognitive decline. However, just because the studies in younger people are dwarfed in number by the studies in older people, doesn’t detract from the validity of the studies in younger people.

Basically: its use in older people has been studied the most, but all available evidence points to it being beneficial to brain health at all ages.

Where can we get it?

We don’t sell it (or anything else), but for your convenience, here’s an example product on Amazon.

Enjoy!

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