Amazing Brain Nutrient Helps Memory, Learning, Focus, and Mood

June 7, 2019 | Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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 Amazing Brain Nutrient Helps Memory, Learning, Focus, and Mood
When it comes to taking care of your body, don’t forget your brain health! Just like buildings that need a well-maintained roof, so does your brain. If the roof isn’t maintained well or didn’t get properly built in the beginning, the structure breaks down and has further repercussions. The same thing can happen with your brain structure.

Getting the right brain nutrition is essential throughout life – for childhood brain development, learning, focus, mood, productivity, and maintaining memory with age. Optimize your brain health today and into the future!

Critical Brain Fat: PhosphatidylSerine

Your brain’s structure is made up of critical fats known as phospholipids, like phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylcholine (PC). Phosphatidylserine accounts for about 15 percent of the phospholipids in the brain. The highest amounts of PS are found inside of cell membranes in the brain, the olfactory bulb, which is the nerve tissue essential for sense of smell, and the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain. Lesser amounts of phosphatidylserine are found elsewhere in the brain.

Here are ten reasons you want to take phosphatidylserine!

1. Helps Your Brain Age Well

Scientists have found that the brain’s structural integrity declines with age. Some areas of the brain are affected more than others. Some parts become thin, while other parts might develop white matter lesions. Nerve pathways breakdown and lose their integrity. Cell membranes and receptor sites get beat-up with oxidative stress. Microglial cells get overworked and stressed. This decline in neurological structure affects your brain’s function and may occur as early as in your 20’s, and is certainly seen by your 50’s. By the time you are in your 80’s, these changes are more pronounced and reflect phospholipid health in your brain.

2. Enhances Learning Ability

In a rodent study, it was found that older rats supplemented with phosphatidylserine performed better with a learning test than the control group. Performance levels were similar to younger adult rats.

In a 2018 human study, researchers proved that use of phospholipids like phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylcholine healthfully enhanced cognitive function in older adults.

3. Supports Memory and Focus

Over the last few decades, phosphatidylserine has been found to be invaluable for memory support. Elderly individuals given PS experienced positive benefits in memory and mood in a three-month double-blind placebo-controlled study. Improvements and preservation of independence was seen with the ability to accomplish and maintain daily living tasks. Phosphatidylserine dosage was 300mg per day.

A recent study described a randomized control trial in children ages 4-14 who received 200mg of phosphatidylserine per day for two months. Children who receive PS had much better focus and improved auditory memory compared to those who received a placebo.

Phosphatidylserine may be a good resource for helping your child when they tell you they forgot or seem to have selective listening skills. Even though summer break is upon us, now is a great time to work on brain nutrition to give your child’s brain a chance to revitalize over the summer.

4. Helps Spatial Memory

Research shows that PS facilitates an improvement in spatial memory and helps fortify against passive withdrawal in aged animals. Spatial memory helps you with navigation, knowing where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there. Spatial memory involves short- and long-term memory, along with focus, geometry and mathematical skills.

5. Brain Protection and Repair

Phosphatidylserine supplementation has been shown to decrease the production of free radicals in the brain which helps lower oxidative stress. This helps protect microglial cells from overstimulation and stress. Microglial cell stress affects brain energy and vitality.

Phosphatidylserine performs cell clean-up in the brain, known as autophagy. Autophagy is a normal part of your brain and body’s housekeeping process and is vital to keeping cell function and structure intact and healthy. If things are worn-out, then your brain must discard the trash. PS helps this process. Further information about autophagy may be found in the article Autophagy Problems are A Primary Cause of Human Disease

6. Phosphatidylserine Buffers Stress

Phosphatidylserine aids the HPA axis in stress management support. Elevated stress hormones from the day’s events must be managed. PS is often used to help protect and modulate high cortisol and other stress hormones that cause a person to feel wired, irritable, and often unable to sleep.

7. Phosphatidylserine is Essential for Brain Metabolism and Function

Inside brain cell membranes, phosphatidylserine combines with proteins to form a docking site. These are the parking spots for several key signaling pathways. The signaling pathways are involved with nerve growth, the communication of nerves, and nerve cell survival. PS plays a significant role in keeping these signaling pathways working well.

Phosphatidylserine helps the brain manage nerve excitability or activity as it affects how calcium and glutamate move in and out of cells. It helps keeps nerve communications running smooth. Because of phosphatidylserine’s high concentration at the docking sites inside the cell membranes, it helps maintain electrical activity in the brain.

Phosphatidylserine also modulates several proteins and enzymes in the brain include tau protein, synapsin, and nNOS (neuronal nitric oxide synthase). Healthy metabolism of tau protein and synapsin are vital to avoid improper build-up of these compounds as it can lead cognitive function decline. nNOS is a key enzyme involved with the oxidative stress functions in the brain.

8. Phosphatidylserine Helps Mood

Phosphatidylserine naturally helps modulate the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, GABA, glycine, and acetylcholine inside the cell membranes as it supports receptor sites for neurotransmitters. This help maintain better mood and stress tolerance. In addition, phosphatidylserine helps the brain produce more low beta waves which helps increase focus, mood, and relaxation and decrease stress-tension.

Phosphatidylserine also supports a healthy mood in those prone to “winter blues”. This is a good tip to tuck away in your memory even though we are now entering the longest days of the year.

9. Phosphatidylserine Helps Movement and Coordination

Movement and coordination are just as important as memory and focus for brain health. Agility, balance, reflexes, and movement all require a healthy brain. Phosphatidylserine helps support motor movement.

10. PS and DHA

Phosphatidylserine works together with the essential omega-3 fish oil DHA. Together they are absolutely critical for brain structure and function, and nerve cell membranes. Animal studies show that if DHA is deficient in early life then PS content is also lacking in the olfactory bulb, brain cortex (cognitive, executive functions), and the hippocampus. It is vital to note that if omega-3 DHA levels in the brain are insufficient, PS levels in the brain will decline.

PS. Oh, and just one more thing.

It is interesting to note that a decline in the sense of smell with age is related with a decline in cognitive health. Loss of smell often occurs years before more substantial concerns develop with cognitive impairment. Given the high levels of phosphatidylserine normally found in the olfactory bulb, consider taking phosphatidylserine with zinc if you have gone “nose-blind”.

It is a great idea for individuals of all ages to ensure daily intake of this essential omega-3 fatty acid through diet and/or supplementation. DHA may be easily taken with PS to optimize this essential brain duo. Phosphatidylserine may also be taken with other healthy brain nutrients like coenzyme B vitamins, curcumin, resveratrol, fisetin, acetyl-l-carnitine, and r-alpha lipoic acid for additional antioxidant and energy support.

Wellness Resources offers a non-GMO, soy-free, highest purity phosphatidylserine derived from sunflower lecithin. We have recommended phosphatidylserine to support healthy brain, mood, and cognitive function for more than 25 years.

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