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Phosphatidylserine: Nootropic, Cortisol Blocker, and Adaptogen

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Phosphatidylserine has attracted attention over the last three decades as a nootropic and athletic performance aid. As a cortisol blocker, it acts as an adaptogen by mitigating the effects of the body’s primary stress hormone. Along with assisting with focus and improving resilience, PS is also being investigated as an adjunctive therapy for depression, ADHD, and age-related memory loss. PS is a critical component of cell membranes and is especially concentrated in the brain. Recently it was found that it assists in efficient apoptosis (Matsura, 2014). In other words, it helps facilitates the removal of senescent and precancerous cells before they cause trouble. Expanding on all the reasons this is a good thing would require its own article.


While it serves a purpose, much of cortisol’s bad press is well-deserved. As a stress hormone it is a byproduct of the “fight or flight response.” This is fine when it’s activated when you need it, but when it’s chronic it can contribute to sleep disturbances, mood disorders, muscle loss, weight gain, fatigue, heart disease, immunosuppression, and blood sugar dysregulation. In a time in which stressors are ubiquitous and anxiety is an epidemic blocking cortisol might not be a bad idea. PS is the premiere cortisol blocker with a commendable safety profile.


PS is most commonly taken by people who need long (or brief) periods of sustained focus to remain competitive with their peers. Men between 18 and 30 were tested both before and after sessions of resistance training. On average those given 400mg worked out a math problems 20% faster and with 33% fewer errors.  Aside from chess-boxing (yes, that really is a sport) it is not immediately obvious how this would be helpful to anyone. As or more interesting is a study conducted on active individuals. Over a ten day period cyclists given PS increased exercise time to exhaustion by 85% of VO2 max, the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize during intense exercise. It correlates with overall athletic performance and, obviously, with aerobic endurance.


A 3 month study on elderly adults experiencing memory problems found a significant difference between the verum and placebo groups. Zanotta et. al, who gave elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment PS for 60 days. They saw improvements in a battery of cognitive tests, including memory. PS, an abundant molecule found throughout the body, has a commendable safety profile. Similar findings were made by an article published in Aging, in which nearly 500 participants showed improvements across a variety of cognitive and behavioral criteria.


A trial with elderly women with depression revealed that it not only improved their scores on memory tests but also alleviated their symptoms. Although it likely contributes directly to depression symptoms by reducing blood flow to the brain, an Omega-3 deficiency can reduce PS levels in the brain up to 35%. It improves depression disorders as measured by an array of tests (Maggioni, 1990). 21 children with ADHD between the ages of 4 and 19 were given 200-300mg of PS for up to four months. This alleviated symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.  A 16 week study found especially marked improvements in children who took a PS/Omega-3 when compared to he placebo.


Foods with the most PS are not exactly normal fare for most people in North America: soy lecithin, cow brains, mackerel and chicken heart top the list. They are followed by an assortment of organ meats. Slightly below them are tuna, herring, mullet, and chicken. Vegetarian sources include soy, whole barley, and white beans. However, unless you have a ghoulish fondness for devouring animal organs  you are probably not getting as much PS as you could from a quality supplement.

MasterMind, among other natural nootropics and adaptogens, contains phosphatidylserine. USDA organic, cGMP, Kosher, and most every other pleasant sounding certification imaginable, Allysian’s products are unlike any on the market today. Allysian Omega is made with pure premium Neptune Krill Oil®, a sustainable and industry leading omega-3 derived from Antarctic krill that is extracted in a way that protects its powerful antioxidants, including astaxanthin. 


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