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 with phosphatidylserine indicate improved cognitive abilities and behaviors. However, improvements 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. But because of concerns about mad cow disease, most manufacturers now produce the supplements from soy or cabbage derivatives. Preliminary studies have shown that plant-based phosphatidylserine supplements may also offer benefits, but more research is needed. However, no modern studies have continued to focus on phosphatidylserine, suggesting its limited effect.

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.

Jun. 02, 2014 See more Expert Answers