T Nation

Pondering Phosphatidylserine

I am an looking to implement a new supplment routine utilising Phosphatidylserine (PS) for its anti-catabolic properties. This supplement always gets an honourable mention in bodybuilding magazines yet I can’t source it in Australia (in an unmixed/pre-prepared product) so that I can control the dosage.

Furthermore Charles Poliquin recommends 600-800mg of phospatidylserine along with the Acetyl-l-carnitine. However Poliquin performance onw brand (Brain Vitale)has nowhere near this dosage with only 120mg per serve. Now I’m really confused.

I want to incorporate PS in my preworkout brain stimulant (good-luck;)and after workouts to control cortisol release.

I also get bogged down with chemical names.

here are my questions:

  1. what is the difference between
    a)Phospatidyl serine powder
    b)Phosphatidyl Choline

  2. which will suit my purposes best?

  3. where in Australia can i source PS?

Any help will be greatfully received.

When I was looking into phosphatidylserine supplementation, I learned that there are two types of , one derived from cow brains and one derived from soy. The studies involving improved brain function were involved the cow brain-derived variety. This is very hard to find, most phosphatidylserine sold now comes from soy.

I used the soy variety myself and I thought it helped a little, but I was also taking a multi-vitamin, fish oil, and some other brain-boosting stuff, so it might not have been from the phosphatidylserine.

[quote]smallmike wrote:
When I was looking into phosphatidylserine supplementation, I learned that there are two types of , one derived from cow brains and one derived from soy. The studies involving improved brain function were involved the cow brain-derived variety. This is very hard to find, most phosphatidylserine sold now comes from soy.

I used the soy variety myself and I thought it helped a little, but I was also taking a multi-vitamin, fish oil, and some other brain-boosting stuff, so it might not have been from the phosphatidylserine.[/quote]

Wow,
Thanks smallmike I never would have guessed that Phosphatidylserine was actually derived from cow brains. In fact I had no idea what it was derived from period. Very interesting. I will email the supplier i found in the states and find out where their PS is derived from.

By far the best product on the market is VPX Thinfat. Shitload of CLA and PS that comes as a liquid. Very highly recommended.

I’ve spent a little more time looking into Phosphatidylserine (PS). Here are some of the things I have learned.

for those who don’t know what PS is and why I am interested in it i’ll give you a brief rundown.

I am primarily interested in PS because it is reputed to be a powerful suppresant of CORTISOL. Cortisol is what is known as a catabolic hormone in that it floats around your body eating away at precious muscle tissue.

The body is in a constant state of flux. It is either building muscle/tissue or breaking it down. Obviously we would like to remain in an anabolic (muscle building) state as long as possible and minimise the impact of cortisol Hormones.

But be aware. The body doesnt just produce cortisol for the hell of it. The body apparently does need it. This is something manufacturers of PS never seem to tout. THey claim that after long term tests of PS use no discernable side-effects have been identified.

This is probably true for these tests as the dosage of PS seems to be quite low. Charles Poliquin recommends a significant dosage of b/w 800-1,200mg of PS but is the only person I know of to recommend caution with PS. If you use large amounts of PS it will supress cortisol levels to a point that is TOO LOW and severe joint pain and other medical conditions can apparently be experienced. Poliquin further recommends to ONLY USE PS ON DAYS YOU WORK OUT. again, another ommision of the supplement companies.

“smallmike” seems to be spot on. Phosphatidylserine was originally derived from cow brains. It seems that most legitimacy for PS comes from research with Cow brain derived or Bovine Cortex(BC) Phosphatidylserine. Current supplements for PS use SOY derivations of Phosphatidylserine.

Bovine Cortex (cow) Phosphatidylserine was made illegal as it has the potentail for transfering disease/virus. Soy PS does not have this problem. However the structure of SOY PS and Bovine Cortex PS are apparently very different and research on soy PS is apparently less conclusive. (OPINIONS WELCOME).

Also significant is phosphatidylserine’s effect on memory. in fact most of the research seems to focus on this rather than cortisol. Most supplemt companies market PS in a brain vitality formula with things like aplha-glycerophoscholine,Gingko Bilboa and Acetytl-l-carnitine. BUt be aware that dosages may not be high enough (eg poliquin says less than 3grams of Acetyl-l-carnitine is a waste of time) to acheive the desireed result.

AS for the difference between phosphatidylserine powder and phosphatidyl Choline I still dont know. I have emailed some supplement companies and will let you know of (and if) their reply. It seems to me from scouring through Google that Phosphatidylserine is responsible for Nuerotransmitter/cell membrane health AND is CORTISOL SUPPRESANT while phosphatidyl choline is mainly a contributor to the Nuerotransmitter acetylcholine for optimising motor unit recruitment.

In Summary, Phosphatidylserine may be effective in increasing brain membrane function and suppressing cortisol. Be aware of supplement companies dosages and do not take in large quantities or on non training days as it may lead to joint pain and medical issues (some cortisol is needed) 800-1200mg is recommended by poliquin. (dont look for cow Phosphatidylserine)

If anybody out there can shed more light on the difference between Phosphatidylserine and Phosphatidyl Choline particularly in relation to COrtisol it would be greatly appreciated.

Also what is your opinion on soy’s effectiveness as phosphatidylserine and cortisol suppresant?

I can’t answer that question specifically, about the differences between the two, but I have taken it before. I don’t know whether the kind I had was cow-brained or soy, but when I took it I felt like I couldn’t forget anything. I’m not sure if it was placebo effect or not, but my memory felt spot on. It was rather expensive, however, and I could not justify it. Worth a shot I guess.

[quote]E-man wrote:
By far the best product on the market is VPX Thinfat. Shitload of CLA and PS that comes as a liquid. Very highly recommended.[/quote]

Thanks e-man. Liquid vs powder form PS. Any difference?

[quote]havakj wrote:
I can’t answer that question specifically, about the differences between the two, but I have taken it before. I don’t know whether the kind I had was cow-brained or soy, but when I took it I felt like I couldn’t forget anything. I’m not sure if it was placebo effect or not, but my memory felt spot on. It was rather expensive, however, and I could not justify it. Worth a shot I guess. [/quote]

Hey havakj
Acetyl-l-carnitine is supposed to be equally good for the brain side of the world. maybe give it a go as well. I will be trying PS in a couple of weeks. while the Nuerotransmitter response sounds awesome I want it for its anti catabolic properties. Any idea on the mechanism that makes PS anti-catabolic?

Scholtz,

Phosphatidylcholine provides none of the benefits you’re looking for. It’s not bad for the body it’s just nothing special either.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) comes in two forms - PS complex (which contains PS and it’s counterpart Phosphatidylcholine). The other form being active PS supplements.
Most commonly PS is produced as mentioned in previous posts via soy.

When taking PS complex as a supplement (which is the common powder versions) you need to take in roughly 4g of this complex to get 800mg active PS which was the amount found in original PS cortisol control studies. It must be active PS or it’s a complete waste.

Active PS supplements (generally in pill form) range roughly from 50-200mg of active PS. So you’d need to take in 4-8 pills just to get the cortisol control benefits.
In the Polquin product it simply means you need to take in 5-6 caps each workout to attain the benefit.

AST Sports Science produced a PS complex product back in the day. I used it religiously for about 8 months. It was VERY expensive. 8 pills @ 30 mins preworkout was required each time. Each pill was 500mg so 4g of the stuff to get 800mg active PS.

They stopped producing it and I thought highly of the supplement at the time so I called them and asked why?

They said the cost was simply not worth the benefit to the average supplement user.
If you’ve got a boatload of cash laying around I think it’s a great idea to get this stuff.
But cost-benefit it’s just not worth it.
As far as current brands I highly trust NOW Foods who sells in various countries. I get mine from here:

I never found PS did anything for mental acuity/focus when taken pre-workout. Cortisol control (specifically, workout driven cortisol secretion control) is not something someone can really measure all that well. While I “felt” I was recovering quicker and was less sore, it’s not like I gained 10lbs on it.

And “feeling” it working could simply be a placebo effect. The stuff had to work great right! I was takin 8 pills every workout and it was costing me $5 every time. Screams big placebo effect to me even though the research is there to back it up.

In my opinion PS is one of the best brain related supplements out there. A high amount of research shows how it improves mental function (memory specifically) and helps with prevention and lessens the symptoms of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or any age-related memory loss.

But for these greats effects you need only use 100mg daily (1 pill). Something which is actually affordable to the normal joe. Keep in mind that it does not work like gingko does (an antioxidant and oxygen increasing supplement for the brain whereas PS helps to protect the fat of the brain and its neuro-connections) and that both should be taken for extraordinary results daily.

Now, I would like to direct your attention to two seperate supplements (which hopefully you can locate in Aus) which in my opinion will take care of all your concerns and achieve what you’re looking for at least 1/3 the cost of PS.

Mental Acuity/Focus (pre-workout or anytime; great for studying) - Syntrax’s Cerebro
I’ll tell you this - This stuff in genius in a bottle. I’ve used ALC, PS, Gingko and caffiene/fat burners, etc AND NOTHING comes anywhere near as good as this stuff. There’s no spike in energy, no insulin ups and downs, nothing like that.

It’s not like caffiene.
30 mins after you pop a Cerebro you just think incredibly clear. The whole mind-muscle connection thing takes on a WHOLE new meaning. I like to take it pre-workout (I train first thing in the morning and don’t do well with stimulants) and once again around 3pm when I get a bit foggy in the brain.

Seriously! This is genius level IQ in a bottle.

Post-workout cortisol secretion control - In my opinion attacking exercise induced cortisol is a needle in a haystack approach to the whole equation.

Take the 5 mintues to read this article about lessening/stopping post-workout muscle catabolism induced from intense workouts:

http://www.ast-ss.com/articles/article.asp?AID=51

Since reading it I’ve used NAC as a supplement post-workout (and it’s only required post-workout). That’s about 4 years now; every single workout!

Again I go with NOW Foods brand bought through bb.com but any pure 500-600mg NAC supplement taken post workout will stop the muscle wasting process from exercise induced catabolism (including cortisol secretion).

Again, this isn’t the sort of supplement that you put 10lbs of lean mass on, but it is something you use and don’t ever want to train without taking post-workout because in the long run stopping that muscle wasting process dead in its tracks is very important to retaining muscle mass.

In short -

1 Syntrax’s Cerebro for mental focus @ 30 mins pre-workout

NOW Foods - 1 x 500mg N-Acetyl-Cysteine taken immediately post-workout to stop the exercise induced muscle wasting stress process
*The combination of these two supplements outlined as above will do much better than a PS supplement in the 600-800mg active PS required level AND it will be cheaper! 35 Cents per workout for both of these supps vs PS at $1.80 per workout


www.bodybuilding.com/store/syn/cer.html

(these guys do ship to Aus for decent prices especially seeings they are simply small pill bottles and 3 bottles of Cerebro and 1 bottle of NAC lasts about 60 workouts)

and if you want more brain protection and performance add in:
NOW Foods - 100mg Phosphatidylserine @ 1 time daily (takes 3-4 weeks to notice the difference)
and possibly a gingko product for reasons outlined above

Cheers!
AT

Thanks for the great Response AllTraps. In regards to Phosphatidylcholine you wrote:

Phosphatidylcholine provides none of the benefits you’re looking for. It’s not bad for the body it’s just nothing special either.

Yes indeed. I have found a little more info on it (again by Poliquin…handy fella!!) Apparently Phosphatidylcholine is a supplement to be taken in the EVENINGS with the view to improve sleep via a slowing down the sympathetic nervous system. It’s also supposed to be good for liver detoxification, which poliquin believes may help with IGF-1 production. (he recommends 3grams in the pm for those who are interested).

You also wrote:
Phosphatidylserine (PS) comes in two forms - PS complex (which contains PS and it’s counterpart Phosphatidylcholine). The other form being active PS supplements.

Thanks, I never knew this. How can i tell the difference b/w PS complex and active PS supplements? By the sounds of things they can BOTH be in EITHER powder or pill form? I have been recommended a dosage of PS POST WORKOUT of 800mg as you obviously take. I have also been warned that taking dosages ABOVE 2,400mg may lower cortisol too much thereby increasing inflammation. I would be too nervous of taking 4grams of PS complex in order to acheive an ACTIVE PS 800mg dosage.

I have had a look at your Syntax Cerebro recommendation and N-acetyl-Cysteine. AST’s product is readily available here in AUS (i’ve seen it around). I will endouver to look into both your recommendations at some stage (got my hands full with PS, Acetyl-l-carnitine and Alpha-glycerophosphocholine to make any real investigations right now).

Thanks for your great reply Alltraps. Perhaps you can tell me how to readily and reliably identify the difference b/w PS complex and PS ACTIVE?

SUMMARY
For anyone following PS Supplementation it looks like Phosphatidylcholine and Phosphatidylserine are indeed different.

Choline should be taken at night to help induce sleep while Serine should be taken (generally postworkout but perhaps also pre-workout with acetyle-l-carnitine). It looks like PS is the one we need to control cortisol with a recommended dosage of 800mg.

Alltraps has advised that PS can be

  1. PS complex and PS ACTIVE. Sounds like PS active is what we are after as PS complex will have to have an exaggerated dosage to ensure enough ACTIVE PS is available for a 800mg ACTIVE PS dosage.

ANY FURTHER INPUT BY ANY MEMBERS WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.

To answer your ? about PS complex and PS active…just look the directions and quantity of the substance on the bottle.

Most pills are measured in active PS amounts - not more than 200mg per pill; common PS only products are 100mg.

I’ve not seen PS complexes around for a while now, I just know they’re out there.

Again for cortisol suppression due to exercise induced secretion 600-800mg (6-8 x 100mg pills) need be taken 30-45 mins pre-workout.

Still think you’re better off with 1 Syntrax Cerebro 30 mins preworkout and 1 AST 500mg NAC immediately postworkout.

Hope that helps