“Age takes away all things, even the mind,” wrote Virgil in 70 BC.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can retain good mental function throughout life by making healthy food and lifestyle choices.
One of these choices relates to a particular type of fat. It’s been the subject of research for so many decades that its brain benefits are no longer in doubt.
Results from more than 3000 research papers and 60 clinical trials in the United States and around the world show that phosphatidylserine – PS – strongly supports mental function and reduces the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
A host of brain-protective properties
About 60% of brain tissue is fat. If you lack all the fats you need, mental processes slow down and the brain isn’t able to function the way it was designed to. PS is a key phospholipid that affects many areas of the brain.
Keeps membranes flexible — It’s needed to keep cell membranes pliable and fluid so proteins and nutrients can pass easily in and out of cells.
Better communication — PS can also increase the number of receptors on the cell surface to create more docking points. This allows messages to be transmitted more easily and improves communication.
Supports myelin — The myelin sheath that surrounds and insulates nerve cells is enriched by PS. Myelin is needed for rapid conduction of electrical impulses, which in turn creates fast processing speeds.
Restores acetylcholine — Lab studies show PS can also help replenish acetylcholine in older brains. Depleted levels of this neurotransmitter are an indicator of brain cell degeneration. Pharmaceutical drugs to help memory and cognition usually aim to increase acetylcholine.
Other actions of PS include antioxidant activity, protecting the brain against free radicals; promoting calcium uptake in brain synapses for efficient transfer of electrical and chemical signals; and lowering excess levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Too much cortisol brings on many negative consequences for the brain.
PS shows benefits in human studies
Scientists have conducted dozens of human studies in older people over many years. 17 of those studies were double-blind, comparing a group of participants taking PS with others taking a placebo.
Results have been consistent, showing improvements in memory, learning, verbal ability, mood, concentration, sociability, and activities of daily living.
In one remarkable study – frequently quoted in ads for PS supplements — 149 patients past the age of 50 were treated for age-related memory loss with either PS or a placebo for three months.
The researchers found the PS group improved scores on learning and memory by 15%. Those that were the most impaired to begin with improved the most. The benefits from taking PS continued for a month after supplementation was stopped.
One of the authors of the study concluded that PS seemed to reverse about a dozen years of mental decline.
In the largest study to date, 494 patients aged between 65 and 93 with moderate to severe cognitive decline were included. The study was conducted over six months. Results for the PS group were deemed “highly significant,” showing improvements in learning and memory scores compared to the placebo group.
PS – Are you getting enough?
The body is able to manufacture PS, but this ability declines with age. Levels of PS also decrease in people experiencing stress, and among those who consume refined fats and oils, or low fat and vegetarian diets.
While PS is present in nearly all foods, the amounts are generally tiny. Just a few contain measurable quantities, with the highest being cow’s brain, a food not high on the shopping list of Americans. Other good sources are organ meats such as liver and kidneys. White beans are the best vegetarian source.
PS is also available as a supplement, either on its own or as part of a brain-healthy formula. In my view, this is the best way to maintain your PS levels, especially if you’re older.
Green Valley Natural Solutions offers a therapeutic dose of PS in our Maximum Memory Support formula – along with a host of other good ingredients.
Caution requires me to say that the FDA does not believe there’s enough proof for the benefits of PS I’ve outlined in this article. Or, to put it more exactly, no one has submitted the studies to them and paid the massive fees involved to “prove” PS can treat or prevent health conditions. Therefore I can’t promise you’ll experience improved memory and cognition or any other benefit. You have to decide if the evidence is good enough for you.