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Phosphatidylserine (PS) holds great promise for brain health

Phosphatidylserine is a relative to lecithin (technically known as phosphatidylcholine), the widely used emulsifier in food processing. It's richly concentrated in the fat-soluble fraction of the same two food sources: eggs and soybeans. It's likely that more and more people will learn of the promise harbored in PS supplements.

In February 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would allow the following claims to accompany products that contain PS: "Phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of dementia in the elderly" and "Phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of cognitive dysfunction in the elderly."

Although the FDA requires the presence of an accompanying statement reading "Very limited and preliminary scientific research suggests that PS may reduce the risk of dementia [cognitive dysfunction] in the elderly," the claim nonetheless is a landmark first for any food or supplement and a positive association with mental illness.

The evidence that does exist suggests that PS is indeed a "neuronutrient" in that it's found in abundant amounts within nervous tissue (including the brain) and operates in part as a communication facilitator between nerve cells.

The majority of the studies that have been associated with a positive effect of PS on cognitive function were done with bovine brain-derived PS extracts. Because of the inherent risk associated with the ingestion of cow brain derivatives ("mad cow" disease; Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease) a soy-derived PS has been marketed for several years, which may have similar actions (based upon animal studies). This form has been shown to be safe and well tolerated by mature adults.

More studies exploring its impact on brain function should only increase the awareness and "recall" of this intriguing brain nutrient. 

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