Superfood for your brain – phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid that is found in most parts of the body, however it is most concentrated in the brain, where it plays a key role in helping cells to communicate with each other.  Phosphatidylserine is key building block of nerve cell membranes - research suggests phosphatidylserine may support mental focus and help support a healthy endocrine response to acute mental stress. Phosphatidylserine is obtained though cholesterol containing foods and as such it may be lacking in people who follow a very low-fat diet or vegans & vegetarians.


Research has shown that phosphatidylserine supports optimal cognitive function. The American Psychology Association defines cognitive function as “the performance of mental processes including learning, memory, understanding, awareness, reasoning, judgment, intuition and language”.

Image of neurons in a brain

In addition to enhancing cognitive function, phosphatidylserine also improves brain glucose metabolism and the production of important neurotransmitters (Glade, Kim & Casamenti) which might help with that feeling of “brain-drain” at 3pm in the afternoons when your blood sugar levels fall.

Neuroplasticity refers to the fact that our brains are not static, in fact, your brain is constantly changing itself and adapting. New neural pathways are constantly being created and strengthened in response to changes in our environment and the demands we place upon our brains. Phosphatidylserine can increase neuroplasticity, helping us to learn and remember more effectively and adapt more quickly (Kim, Huang & Spector, 2014). 

Neurons in a brain on a blue background

In the 1990s researchers proved that phosphatidylserine supplementation lowers cortisol (Monteleone et. al. 1990) which means that it helps our body (and more specifically our brain) to cope with stress.

Image of woman looking stressed at work

Phosphatidylserine is a brain superfood for all ages; from children with behavioural & learning difficulties to working professionals needing to remain sharp and cope with high pressure environments. Phospholipids decrease with age and supplementation with phosphatidylserine has been shown to result in statistically significant improvements in age-related cognitive impairment (Engel, et. al. 1992).  


Carter, Jeremy MS, CSCS; Greenwood, Mike PhD, CSCS*D, RSCC*D, FNSCA. Phosphatidylserine for the Athlete. Strength and Conditioning Journal 37(1):p 61-68, February 2015. | DOI: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000112 

Casamenti, F., Scali, C., & Pepeu, G. (1991). Phosphatidylserine reverses the age-dependent decrease in cortical acetylcholine release: a microdialysis study. European Journal of Pharmacology, 194(1), 11–16. 

Engel, R. R., Satzger, W., Günther, W., Kathmann, N., Bove, D., Gerke, S., Münch, U., & Hippius, H. (1992). Double-blind cross-over study of phosphatidylserine vs. placebo in patients with early dementia of the Alzheimer type. European Neuropsychopharmacology: The Journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 2(2), 149–155. 

Glade, M. J., & Smith, K. (2015). Phosphatidylserine and the human brain. Nutrition, 31(6), 781–786.  

Hirayama, S., Terasawa, K., Rabeler, R., Hirayama, T., Inoue, T., Tatsumi, Y., Purpura, M., & Jäger, R. (2014). The effect of phosphatidylserine administration on memory and symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 27(2), 284–291. 

Jäger R, Purpura M, Kingsley M. Phospholipids, and sports performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 4, 2007

Kim, H. Y., Huang, B. X., & Spector, A. A. (2014). Phosphatidylserine in the brain: Metabolism and function. Progress in Lipid Research

Manor I, Magen A, Keidar D, Rosen S, Tasker H, Cohen T, Richter Y, Zaaroor-Regev D, Manor Y, Weizman A. The effect of phosphatidylserine containing Omega 3 fatty-acids on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in children: A double-blind placebo-controlled trial, followed by an open-label extension. Eur Psychiatry 27: 335–342, 2012 

Monteleone, P., Beinat, L., Tanzillo, C., Maj, M., & Kemali, D. (1990). Effects of phosphatidylserine on the neuroendocrine response to physical stress in humans. Neuroendocrinology, 52(3), 243–248.