A panel of the European Food Safety Authority concluded that a cause and effect relationship cannot be established between the consumption of phosphatidylserine and "memory and cognitive functioning in the elderly”, “mental health/cognitive function” and “stress reduction and enhanced memory function”. The reason is that bovine brain cortex- and soy-based phosphatidylserine are different substances and might, therefore, have different biological activities. Therefore the results of studies using PS coming from different sources cannot be generalized.
In May, 2003 the Food and Drug Administration gave "qualified health claim" status to phosphatidylserine thus allowing labels to state "consumption of phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive dysfunction in the elderly" along with the disclaimer "very limited and preliminary scientific research suggests that phosphatidylserine may reduce the risk of cognitive dysfunction in the elderly. FDA concludes that there is little scientific evidence supporting this claim."
The FDA declared that "based on its evaluation of the totality of the publicly available scientific evidence, the agency concludes that there is not significant scientific agreement among qualified experts that a relationship exists between phosphatidylserine and reduced risk of dementia or cognitive dysfunction". The FDA also noted "Of the 10 intervention studies that formed the basis of FDA's evaluation, all were seriously flawed or limited in their reliability in one or more ways", concluding that "most of the evidence does not support a relationship between phosphatidylserine and reduced risk of dementia or cognitive dysfunction, and that the evidence that does support such a relationship is very limited and preliminary".
Early studies of phosphatidylserine on memory and cognition used a supplement which isolated the molecule from the bovine brain. Currently, most commercially available products are made from cabbage or soybeans because of concerns about mad cow disease in bovine brain tissue. These plant-based products have a similar, but not identical chemical structure to the bovine derived supplements; for example, the FDA notes "the phosphatidylserine molecule from soy lecithin contains mainly polyunsaturated acids, while the phosphatidylserine molecule from bovine brain cortex contains mainly saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids".
A preliminary study in rats in 1999 indicated that the soy derived phosphatidylserine supplement was as effective as the bovine derived supplement in one of three behavioral tests. However, clinical trials in humans found that "a daily supplement of S-PS [soybean-derived phosphatidylserine] does not affect memory or other cognitive functions in older individuals with memory complaints."
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