When phosphatidylserine was originally studied as a phospholipid component which might aid in cognition and memory, it was distilled from the brains of cows. Concerns about mad cow disease, however, caused subsequent studies to be performed using a form derived from soybeans. Although the phosphatidylserine found in soybeans is not identical to that found in cow brains, preliminary studies seem to indicate the same benefits for stress reduction and cognitive performance, according to FreePatentsOnline.com. There are only a few foods that contain measurable phosphatidylserine.
The highest concentrations of phosphatidylserine occur in cow brains. A 100-gram serving of cow brains contains 713 milligrams of phosphatidylserine. Due to the possibility, however, of contracting mad cow disease, also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, from diseased cattle, this is not a form that most people would ingest. According to Foodsearch.com, a double-blind study involving bovine-brain derived phosphatidylserine found it was able to improve both behavior and cognition in elderly people with cognitive decline.
Organ meats, such as liver and kidneys, also contain high levels of phosphatidylserine, but are not a risk for mad cow disease. Chicken hearts have 414 milligrams for every 100 grams of the organ, and pig kidneys have 218 milligrams for every 100 grams. If you are looking to find a safe source of phosphatidylserine in meats, you will do well to stick with organ and muscle meats. Organ meats are also excellent sources of protein, vitamin A, several B vitamins, iron, folic acid, copper and CoQ10. They are also typically easier on your pocketbook than muscle meats.
White Beans and Soybeans
There are some plant-based sources of phosphatidylserine. Both white beans and soybeans contain phosphatidylserine. Soybeans and white beans each contain about 100 milligrams of phosphatidylserine per 100-gram serving. These plant-based forms of phosphatidylserine are very close in structure to those which can be obtained from cows, but without the risk of viruses that brain cells in animals may contain, such as mad cow disease. Soybeans contain all the essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, folate and iron. White beans are a good source of protein and contain vitamin A and iron.
There are other foods that contain a negligible amount of phosphatidylserine. According to the FDA, small amounts are found in eggs and milk products.