Can phosphatidylserine improve memory and cognitive function in people with Alzheimer's disease?

Answers from Glenn Smith, Ph.D.

Phosphatidylserine (fos-fuh-tie-dul-SER-een) is a dietary supplement that has received some interest as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease and other memory problems. Several studies involving phosphatidylserine indicate a benefit — improved cognitive abilities and behaviors. However, improvements in memory lasted only a few months and were seen in people with the least severe symptoms.

Initially, phosphatidylserine supplements were derived from the brain cells of cows. However, because of concerns about mad cow disease, most manufacturers now produce phosphatidylserine supplements from soy or cabbage derivatives. Early studies, though promising, were based on cow-derived supplements. It's not known if plant-based phosphatidylserine supplements offer any benefits.

Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration doesn't require manufacturers to provide evidence of the potential risks and benefits of phosphatidylserine — or of any supplement. Consult your doctor before starting any dietary supplement.

May 26, 2011