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Phosphatidyl Serine May Prevent Age Related Memory Loss

Nov 8, 2007
Phosphatidyl serine (PS) is a phospholipid compound that is found in the cell membranes of the body and most significantly is highest in the cell membranes of the neurons in the brain. Neurons are the nerve cells that make up the central nervous system in the brain, and the nutrient particularly protects one of the major memory centers of the brain (the hippocampus).

It is aging of the cells of the hippocampus that leads to age related memory loss. PS is able to prevent cognitive decline, or lose of memory, to slow down the aging process of the brain and to help reduce the risk of dementia. So exactly what is this substance, what can it really do and what are its sources.

As you get older, the membranes of your cells wear, the same way as the tires on your car wear. The membrane of the neurons have to possess sufficient fluidity as to allow the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine. Neurotransmitters are essential in allowing messages to be passed between brain cells over the synaptic gap. Brain cells do not communicate by means of direct connections such as electrical wires but by means of chemicals that cross the gap between the cells known as the synapses.

Up until middle age, the body produces phosphatidyl serine naturally to maintain the cell membranes in a good state of repair, and to properly coordinate the release of these neurotransmitters, thus maintaining mental health. However, after a certain age the levels of this essential chemical start to drop off. The neurotransmitters then become less effective, and so the function of the neurons begins to decrease. The result is less efficient communication between the brain cells of the hippocampus, and gradual memory loss and decline in cognitive function. What is needed to halt this process, or even to reverse it, is a synthetic or other natural source of PS.

Not only this, but stress causes the emission of cortisol into the bloodstream. This is a hormone that allows the body to react to stress in a positive way, but if produced in excess, the effects are negative, including a reduction of cognitive powers, or stress-related memory loss. Phosphatidyl serine blocks this effect of cortisol, and so helps those suffering from stress to maintain a good memory in spite of stress.

A deficiency of PS has been linked to Alzheimer's disease and also other causes of dementia. It also has a link with severe depression and Parkinson's disease, especially among the middle aged and the elderly. A PS supplement would help to reduce the incidence of these conditions. It is unlikely that it would act as a cure since there are other reasons for conditions such as Parkinson's disease that is believed to be caused by a deficiency in dopamine. It would, however, resolve this particular cause of dopamine deficiency, just as it would resolve any other mental problem created by such a deficiency. So where are we to find such a source?

Much of the original work on a PS supplement was carried out using PS from the brain of a cow, termed BC-phosphatidyl serine. The BC is short for 'bovine cortex', but cow brain extracts are no longer in favor due to the dangers of contracting diseases from the brains of cows. The best known of these is mad cow disease (BSE), and PS is now obtained from soya lecithin which naturally contains small but significant amounts of the substance. It is also available from egg yolks, but soya is the preferred source for supplemental PS.

Regular supplementation with soya PS appears to work well in helping to maintain good cognitive abilities beyond middle age, and also to reverse some of the damage done by a deficiency. It is claimed that in some cases a reduction in cognitive age of up to 12 years can be attained by its use. It has also been claimed to have been established that EEG brain activity increases in patients who have been treated with phosphatidyl serine. No side effects have been found, nor any cross reaction with any other medication.

There is only one negative to the use of PS in treatment of cognitive and memory decline. The types of PS contained in soya and cow brains is not the same. They contain different fatty acids, and it has not been established if that difference makes a difference in the way they work, or the effect that they have on the human brain. However, studies on soya PS have indicated that there is a significant effect in improving the brain function of those that have been treated with it. The soya form should now be regarded as the only form, since it is doubtful if cow brains will ever be trusted again as a safe source of human nutrition, and the results obtained with the soya form appear sufficient to warrant the claims made for the substance.

So, what are these effects in practice. What will it mean to you as you get older? A number of trials have been carried out and the results published in several leading journals dealing with the topic. The consensus is that it can help to maintain the brain functions that decline with age, specifically the ability to remember facts such as telephone numbers, and recall names and faces. Short term memory is also maintained by its use, and it allows users to concentrate better and maintain medium and longer term memory better than without it.

However, it can not only prevent these conditions from occurring, but can also reverse age related memory loss. It is therefore an important phospholipid to the aging and the aged. A sufficient supply of B complex vitamins and essential fatty acids are also required if its full potential is to be reached since they help the brain to manufacture its own supply of phosphatidyl serine. A combination of both will provide you with maximum protection from age related decline in your brain function and help to protect you from the effects of stress, memory loss, Alzheimer's disease, dementia and perhaps even Parkinson's disease.

Phosphatidyl serine and other fine supplements are available at your local or internet vitamin store.
About the Author
More information on Phosphatidyl Serine and other great memory boosting supplements is available at VitaNet, LLC Health Foods. http://vitanetonline.com/
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