As it expands, the world of nutraceutical supplementation is opening more and more space to the neurocognitive sphere , both to improve our neurocerebral performance and to prevent degenerative phenomena related to pathologies and aging.
Here we hear of "nootropic" substances (or smart drugs ), synthetic or natural elements " that have an effect on the mind " (from the Greek " noos "="mind" and " tropein "="pay attention"), which allow, for various mechanisms of action, of improve our physical and mental state, improving the neurocognitive aspect, increasing memory capacity, reaction and decision-making times, mood and mental performance in general. Phosphatidylserine (PS) is undoubtedly one of the most effective and important natural nootropics that we have available on the market today, capable of improving attention span, reaction and recall times, memory and mood.
What is Phosphatidylserine?
It is a phospholipid component of the membrane that encloses each of our brain cells: it helps maintain their fluidity and permeability, allowing for the efficient transfer of Protein, enzymes, oxygen and glucose into and out of each cell. Phosphatidylcholine (PC), on the other hand, is the phospholipid most present in the brain and is found in the outer layer of the membranes of brain cells. Phosphatidylserine which makes up about 15% of the total phospholipid pool in the brain, is part of the inner layer of cell membranes. Both of course are critical to maintaining optimal cognitive health.
Phosphatidylserine is involved in governing membrane fluidity and regulating all the activities going on in that brain cell. When brain cell membranes are healthy, they are malleable, fluid, and flexible. But as we get older, phospholipids, including phosphatidylserine, start to decline. This sort of shell begins to harden, and attention, concentration, memory, mood, and learning begin to suffer.
Phosphatidylserine interacts with cellular Protein, modulates the activity of neuroreceptors, enzymes, ion channels and signaling molecules. It is also involved in building mitochondria, the energy centers of each brain cell, and even promoting the production of nerve growth factor (NGF).
Let's see how "common" and fundamental the presence of this phospholipid is in the nervous system. Speaking of passages , its transfer also affects the "cell-to-cell" signal molecules of neurons across synapses.
This cellular communication is how we "form" memories .
On the positive side, we can support the presence of phospholipids and slow down this process. The amount and type of long-chain fatty acids in the diet affect the composition of these cell membranes. Cell structure and function depend on an ideal balance of fats including cholesterol, oleic, palmitic, and stearic fatty acids, as well as essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s. Without this right balance, cell membrane function is impaired.
As we get older, our brain chemistry and energy metabolism change:
↓ Brain cell membranes lose fluidity;
↓ Neurotransmitter signaling decreases;
↓ Recollection, reaction time, and mood decrease;
↓ Memory decreases;
All of these changes can occur at any age , and it starts as early as our 30s .
Our cell membranes are influenced by the food we eat, what we drink, our lifestyle, the air we breathe and many other factors. Phosphatidylserine is found in some foods that we usually consume, but not always in "accessible" forms or forms of particular appeal to everyone's palate: chicken heart, Atlantic mackerel, soy lecithin, cabbage, egg yolk, in bovine brain and Atlantic herring. It is therefore easy to understand that our diet does not always supply these precious phospholipids in sufficient quantities : the best way to maintain adequate phosphatidylserine levels in the brain is to take phosphatidylserine as a supplement (produced with soy extracts or sunflower lecithin).
Phosphatidylserine supplementation can be a great potential help in counteracting age/aging related cognitive decline and related disorders, ADHD teens as well as for a student, athlete, manager, military…anyone who wants to support and improve their own psychophysical performances.
Let's go into more detail on what this precious phospholipid does:
- Neuro-optimization : Phosphatidylserine keeps brain cells fluid and permeable. This neuroplasticity helps neurons form new connections necessary for memory formation. PS is essential for "cleaning up" damaged neurons and maintaining a "performing" brain .
- Increases mental energy by facilitating the flow of glucose and oxygen needed to fuel brain cells.
- Phosphatidylserine is an integral part of the flow of crucial neurotransmitters such as dopamine and acetylcholine . And phospholipids contain choline which is a precursor of acetylcholine (ACh). Therefore greater availability of PS will increase ACh levels in our brain, improving cognition, memory, and mood.
- It promotes neurogenesis and prolongs the survival and health of neurons , and it has been well demonstrated that phosphatidylserine (PS) can slow the progression of age-related cognitive decline. In this regard, there is a study with 149 patients who met the criteria for age-related memory impairment, who received 100 mg of phosphatidylserine or a placebo for 12 weeks. Patients who received phosphatidylserine performed better on tests related to learning and daily living memory tasks.
- Phosphatidylserine is also indirectly indicated to promote sleep . Among the many peculiarities, it has been shown that it affects the contrast and modulation of excess cortisol, which as we all know, if chronically too high, can lead to many health problems. The continuation of excess circulating cortisol creates a desensitization in the hypothalamus and hippocampus which act as thermostats for the interception of cortisol, so its levels can remain too high. Phosphatidylserine has been shown to restore efficiency to both the hypothalamus and the hippocampus, which will be capable of lowering cortisol levels in line with circadian rhythms and thus counteracting the many potential disturbances they may cause.
What does all this mean?
Synergistically we find ourselves with a more effective and efficient communication between neurons , we store more memory , and we are more capable of learning and storing concepts , as well as going to recall them. So we can define it as a real aid to our "neuroplasticity", and a tonic and regenerator for our brain cells which are more nourished and oxygenated, with our neurotransmitters more "present".
This applies not only to an elderly population, on which the literature has spoken clearly, but it applies to everyone!
According to a 2015 meta-analysis, 300 mg of PS per day “supports human cognitive functions, including short-term memory formation, long-term memory consolidation, the ability to create new memories, the ability to recover memories, the ability to learn and recall information, the ability to focus attention and concentration, the ability to reason and solve problems, language skills, and the ability to communicate." Glade MJ, Smith K. Phosphatidylserine and the Human Brain. Nutrition.
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