Dietary Supplement May Ease Stress Response

Article excerpt

In a previous column, I discussed the effects of stress on health, but not everyone responds to stress in the same manner. Although we live in a society where stress seems to be lurking on every street corner and hiding behind every tree, some people respond to chronic stress more intensely than others. These folks are the ones who probably need more help.

One of the more potent dietary supplements for combating the effects of stress is omega-3 fat. Increasing omega-3 fats in the diet, especially docosahexanoic acid and phosphatidylserine can reduce stress hormone levels in both animals and humans. Supplementation with a specific omega-3 fats, phosphatidylserine has been shown to reduce a number of stress-related hormones such as adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol in both animals and humans.

Studies have shown that taking phosphatidylserine after a physically stressful event, such as long-distance running, weightlifting or competitive cycling, can reduce the usual increasing cortisol levels, reduce muscle soreness and accelerate recovery. Phosphatidylserine also can reduce the stress from demanding mental and emotional activities. Since phosphatidylserine levels decrease in the brain as we age, studies in the elderly have shown that phosphatidylserine supplementation can improve both long-term and short-term memory, cognition and logical thinking.

However, these results do not seem to be consistently reproducible. Some studies show a significant benefit, and other studies demonstrate either limited benefit or no benefit whatsoever. The question is "why are these results so different?" The answer may be that those participants who respond poorly to stress may benefit the most from phosphatidylserine. A study inadvertently composed of participants who have a difficult time handling stress, may skew the results toward a positive outcome. …