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.
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.
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.
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The nutritional supplement phosphatidylserine claims to support:
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).
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.
You can find phosphatidylserine naturally in the following foods:
Phosphatidylserine supplements are made with ingredients derived from:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/14/2023.
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