Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid that protects the cells in your brain. This fatty substance transmits messages in your brain to help your memory and cognitive function. Phosphatidylserine is available as a supplement. It isn’t U.S. FDA-approved to treat any medical conditions, but is generally recognized as safe.


What is phosphatidylserine?

Phosphatidylserine is a fatty substance that protects nerve cells in your brain and enables them to communicate with each other. The nutritional supplement phosphatidylserine promotes cognitive function and memory, especially as you age to better support how your cells communicate and enhance your glucose metabolism.

The amount of natural phosphatidylserine in your body decreases as you get older. Some people choose to take this supplement to increase the amount of phosphatidylserine in their brain.

What are phospholipids?

Phosphatidylserine is a type of phospholipid. It exists in your brain cell membranes, or the part of your cell that protects the inside of the cell from the outside environment.

Phospholipids are fats that contain the mineral phosphorus. Phosphorus is an essential part of your bones, teeth and DNA.


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What are the benefits of phosphatidylserine?

The nutritional supplement phosphatidylserine claims to support:

  • Memory.
  • Cognitive function.
  • Attention and ability to focus.
  • Stress relief.
  • Sleep.

The supplement also claims to target symptoms of:

Phosphatidylserine isn’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat any medical conditions. But the FDA has determined that phosphatidylserine derived from fish, soy lecithin and sunflower are generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

Is phosphatidylserine good for anxiety?

The phosphatidylserine supplement claims to support symptoms of anxiety by reducing stress, regulating mood and encouraging your body to relax. It claims to manage anxiety by balancing cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol is a hormone that responds to stress. Phosphatidylserine isn’t an FDA-approved treatment for anxiety.

What foods are high in phosphatidylserine?

You can find phosphatidylserine naturally in the following foods:

  • Soybeans.
  • Fish.
  • Eggs.
  • Animal organs like liver (chicken or beef).

Phosphatidylserine supplements are made with ingredients derived from:

  • Fish.
  • Soy.
  • Sunflowers.
  • Cabbage.

Early supplements used animal products like cow’s brain (bovine cortex) to make the product. The use of animal products in phosphatidylserine supplements was phased out due to potential safety risks.


Additional Common Questions

What should I tell my healthcare provider before starting phosphatidylserine?

Always talk to a healthcare provider before taking any supplements. They’ll let you know if the supplement is safe and if it will interact with any other medications you currently take.

What dosage does phosphatidylserine come in?

Phosphatidylserine comes in different doses that vary based on your age and reason for taking the supplement. On average, an adult could take 100 milligrams (mg) to 200 mg of phosphatidylserine daily. For example, if you have stress-related sleep difficulties, a healthcare provider may recommend you take 100 to 200 mg of phosphatidylserine at bedtime.

Your healthcare provider can advise on what dosage is safe for you.


How should I take phosphatidylserine?

Phosphatidylserine supplements come in oral tablets or capsules. You can take these by mouth by following the instructions on the label. You can take this supplement with or without food.

What other drugs interact with phosphatidylserine?

Studies suggest that phosphatidylserine may decrease how effective anticholinergic medications are when you take them together. Anticholinergic medications (like atropine, benztropine and oxybutynin) block the activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine helps your memory, attention, ability to learn, arousal and involuntary muscle movements.

What are the risks or side effects of taking phosphatidylserine?

Phosphatidylserine is well tolerated with few side effects typically. Possible side effects may include:

Taking higher than recommended doses of this supplement can lead to side effects.

If you have a shellfish allergy, look for phosphatidylserine made from sunflower or other non-shellfish sources.

Can I take phosphatidylserine if I’m pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant?

Research is ongoing to learn more about whether or not phosphatidylserine is safe to take if you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant or breastfeeding (chestfeeding). Many manufacturers don’t recommend taking this medication if you’re pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure this supplement is safe to take.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Phosphatidylserine is an essential component of your body that protects the cells in your brain and helps them communicate. As you age, the effectiveness of this phospholipid may decrease, which can affect your memory and cognitive function. If you’re interested in taking phosphatidylserine supplements, contact a healthcare provider to make sure it’s safe for you.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 07/14/2023.

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