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Sure, you've used many supplements to impact your strength and muscle mass, but have you ever considered a supplement to improve your mental performance? Certainly your need to think fast in the gym may not be that great, but what about on the practice field or competition? Deciding more quickly and effectively on what man to guard during pick-up basketball or picking up on a coverage during football may make the difference between you being the goat or the hero. What about an improved ability to mentally function on the last three or four holes of a round of golf? Surely, every person would like to be able to better hold together that winning round of golf so your buddies have to pick up the tab on the 19th hole.
A recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition by researchers from West Texas A&M university examined the impact phosphatidylserine supplementation would have on cognitive function, mood and hormonal responses before and after a single bout of resistance training (Parker, Gordon et al. 2011). Phosphatidylserine is a compound that is primarily found the walls of our cells and it has been shown to have a number of key functions that involve hormone regulation and cellular communication. In this study, 18 college aged males who had been regularly training their lower body supplemented for 14 days with either a supplement containing 400 milligrams of phosphatidylserine or a placebo. After the supplementation period, participants completed an acute bout of lower body exercise and had their cognitive function and mood measured before and 5 minutes and 60 minutes after exercise. In addition, blood samples were taken to determine changes in key hormones such as cortisol and testosterone before and 5, 15, 25, 40 and 60 minutes after exercise. When examined prior to the exercise bout, phosphatidylserine use when compared to placebo significantly reduced the time needed to complete a cognitive function test by 20%, significantly reduced the number of errors which occurred by 39% and even tended to increase the number of correct calculations which occurred by 13%. No other changes in mood, hormonal responses or cognitive changes after the exercise bout were found, but these results add to a growing list of studies which suggest administration of phosphatidylserine can improve cognitive function. The authors indicated it was somewhat surprising that no changes in cortisol levels were noted. Cortisol is a key hormone produced inside by our body that is secreted during times of stress. In this respect, a handful of previous studies have reported that phosphatidylserine administration can reduce cortisol and overall stress levels. In summary, acute supplementation of phosphatidylserine, a compound commonly found in soy products and readily available as a dietary supplement, has been shown in many studies to reduce the amount of stress and cortisol production while a more recent study found that its use can also improve mental tasks and cognitive function.
Parker, A. G., J. Gordon, et al. (2011). "The effects of IQPLUS Focus on cognitive function, mood and endocrine response before and following acute exercise." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 8: 16.