Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid that is used by the body to make cellular membranes in cells throughout the body. It is one of the most prevalent phospholipids in the brain and some studies suggest that it may help protect and/or improve some aspects of mental functioning in the elderly while other research suggests PS may provide antidepressant activity.

Actually, research into the activity and function of phosphatidylserine is in its infancy. In the future, studies will probably explain a great deal more about the role PS plays in cell membrane physiology, the regulation of cellular membrane signaling activity, and how it helps to regulate and control much of the biochemistry that takes place in cellular membranes.

Most scientific research with phosphatidylserine has been conducted with material derived from bovine (cow) brain tissue. However, concerns over contaminants from cattle infected with Mad Cow Disease, PS supplements derived from soybeans have replaced products derived from bovine sources.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

200 to 500 mg daily

Most Common Dosage

100 mg, 3 times daily

Dosage Forms


Adult RDI

None established

Adult ODA

None established

Active Forms



After ingestion, phosphatidylserine is hydrolyzed to lysophosphatidylserine, which increased its absorption from the gastrointestinal tract. (1)

Toxicities & Precautions


Phosphatidylserine is regarded as safe and no significant side effects have been reported.

Functions in the Body

Cellular membranes

Phosphatidylserine is an essential component of cellular membranes. (2) It apparently helps influence and regulate the level of fluidity in nerve cell membranes, especially in brain cells.

Cell membrane signaling

Recent studies indicate that phosphatidylserine plays an integral role in cell membrane signaling, which involves oxidation processes that lead to apoptosis. (3) , (4)

Clinical Applications


Elderly people with depressive disorders have benefited from therapy with phosphatidylserine. In addition to the antidepressant activity, patients also make gains in measurements of memory and behavior. (5)

Alzheimer's Disease

Several studies report that administration of phosphatidyl serine to patients with Alzheimer’s disease results in measurable cognitive improvement in some patients. Frequently, patients with less severe cognitive impairment respond better, which suggests that patients with more advanced disease have a level of neuronal deterioration which cannot be helped by this type of therapy. (6) , (7) , (8) The dosages used in these was 100 mg given three times daily.

Age-associated memory impairment

Elderly individuals experiencing age-associated cognitive decline have been treated with phosphatidylserine (100 mg 3 times daily) for periods ranging from 3 to 6 months. In general, patients exhibit improvements in memory and learning and on measurements of behavior. (9) , (10) At the beginning of one study, the subjects average scores on a name-face acquisition skills test was the level normally obtained by 64-year old individuals. After 12 weeks of treatment with phosphatidylserine, these same subjects scored at the level of 52-year olds, indicating a 12 year improvement in cognitive biological age functioning. (11)

Symptoms and Causes of Deficiency

Since phosphatidylserine is not an essential nutrient for humans, no deficiency condition has been identified.

Dietary Sources

Only trace amounts of phosphatidylserine occur in the diet. Very small quantities occur in lecithin.


  1. View Abstract: Bruni A, Orlando P, Mietto L, Viola G. Phospholipid metabolism in rat intestinal mucosa after oral administration of lysophospholipids. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1992;318:243-9.
  2. View Abstract: Araki W, Wurtman RJ. How is membrane phospholipid biosynthesis controlled in neural tissues? J Neurosci Res. Mar1998;51(6):667-74.
  3. View Abstract: Tyurina YY, Shvedova AA, Kawai K, et al. Phospholipid signaling in apoptosis: peroxidation and externalization of phosphatidylserine. Toxicology. Aug2000;148(2-3):93-101.
  4. View Abstract: Kagan VE, Fabisiak JP, Shvedova AA, et al. Oxidative signaling pathway for externalization of plasma membrane phosphatidylserine during apoptosis. FEBS Lett. Jul2000;477(1-2):1-7.
  5. View Abstract: Maggioni M, Picotti GB, Bondiolotti GP, et al. Effects of phosphatidylserine therapy in geriatric patients with depressive disorders. Acta Psychiatr Scand. Mar1990;81(3):265-70.
  6. View Abstract: Heiss WD, Kessler J, Mielke R, et al. Long-term effects of phosphatidylserine, pyritinol, and cognitive training in Alzheimer's disease. A neuropsychological, EEG, and PET investigation. Dementia. Mar1994;5(2):88-98.
  7. View Abstract: Engel RR, Satzger W, Gunther W, et al. Double-blind cross-over study of phosphatidylserine vs. placebo in patients with early dementia of the Alzheimer type. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. Jun1992;2(2):149-55.
  8. View Abstract: Crook T, Petrie W, Wells C, et al. Effects of phosphatidylserine in Alzheimer's disease. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1992;28(1):61-6.
  9. View Abstract: Schreiber S, Kampf-Sherf O, Gorfine M, et al. An open trial of plant-source derived phosphatydilserine for treatment of age-related cognitive decline. Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci. 2000;37(4):302-7.
  10. View Abstract: Cenacchi T, Bertoldin T, Farina C, et al. Cognitive decline in the elderly: a double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study on efficacy of phosphatidylserine administration. Aging. Milano. Apr1993;5(2):123-33.
  11. View Abstract: Crook TH, Tinklenberg J, Yesavage J, et al. Effects of phosphatidylserine in age-associated memory impairment. Neurology. May1991;41(5):644-9.