Last modified on October 23rd, 2023
A plasmalogen supplement may have several anti-aging and cognitive benefits. Plasmalogen supplements are a relatively new concept in natural health, but they’re becoming increasingly popular.
What Are Plasmalogens?
Plasmalogens are a type of phospholipid.
- Phospholipids are molecules that build our cell membranes. Research shows that plasmalogens are involved with neurotransmitter release, and they’re found in high concentrations in the heart and brain, but they’re made mainly in the liver.
- Our levels of plasmalogens begin to decline rapidly after we reach 60.
- They’re needed for cellular function and communication, and studies show that plasmalogen levels are low in people with neurodegenerative conditions like multiple sclerosis, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
- Plasmalogen levels are also low in diabetes, heart attack and stroke, and pancreatic cancer.
A plasmalogen isn’t a trace nutrient but a significant part of our brain. These are like reservoirs for healthy fatty acids; plasmalogens are also inflammatory and potent antioxidants. We need them to maintain our brain function.
- Until we’re between 30 and 40 years old, our plasmalogen levels go up; by the time we’re 70, they’ve often gone down significantly.
- As we age, our body’s ability to make plasmalogens declines and isn’t as efficient as it once was.
- In research, people with low levels of plasmalogens were more likely to have all stages of dementia, and the lower the levels, the more severe their disease. People’s levels appeared to start declining before they had any clinical symptoms of dementia.
- When our bodies can no longer make as many plasmalogens as are needed for optimal functionality, it’s a deficiency. This can occur because of aging, oxidative stress, and ongoing exposure to xenobiotics.
Certain types of seafood may help increase plasmalogen levels. For example, mussels and scallops may have benefits, but it’s hard to eat enough to make any meaningful difference, which is why some people want to try a plasmalogen supplement.
It’s possible that the restoration of plasmalogen levels could be a way to improve memory function in people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The availability of plasmalogen supplements is pretty limited right now, but there are a few products that have hit the market.
Plasmalogen Replacement Therapy
Plasmalogens are not only phospholipids, but they also have a vinyl bond at a certain position, giving them their special qualities.
A double bond makes plasmalogens more compact in their structure to influence membrane structure and fluidity. A plasmalogen can protect against oxidative stress because each of the vinyl-ether bonds making them up can scavenge two reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Plasmalogen replacement therapy, or PRT, is an intervention that works to restore levels of plasmalogen in the body to reduce pathological symptoms.
Plasmalogen therapy isn’t considered toxic at any dose level, and it’s believed to be safe in humans.
Both plasmalogens and their precursors are found in sea animals, including mussels, krill, sea squirts, and scallops. They’re also found in land animals, like beef, pork, and chicken.
There’s the suggestion that you could replace plasmalogens through your diet, but when you’re trying to get them through your food, there’s a decreased level of bioavailability. There’s also a large volume of meat you would need to consume, preferably raw, which isn’t feasible for everyone.
This is why a supplement may be the best route for someone interested in increasing their levels of plasmalogens. Supplements can offer plasmalogens in a concentrated or purified form.
In supplements, there’s an extraction of plasmalogens primarily from marine animals.
Researchers are also increasingly looking at their ability to create synthetic plasmalogens.
Benefits of a Plasmalogen Supplement
Some of the potential benefits of taking a plasmalogen supplement can include the following:
- Improved quality of life
- Improvements in memory related to aging
- Healthier hair
- Slowed neurodegeneration
- Better overall cognitive function
- Normalized neuron function
Plasmalogens and Dementia
Dementia is a clinical condition characterized by a progressive decline in at least two cognitive parameters, including language, memory, executive function, personality, and behavior. Dementia leads someone to become unable to function in their daily life.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It makes up anywhere from 60-80% of dementia diagnoses worldwide.
- Among all the symptoms that Alzheimer’s causes, a commonality they share are the decline of plasmalogens in the brain, eye, and ’what’s called the vascular endothelium.
- Plasmalogen phospholipids are a storage receptible for fatty acids like DHA, which can cross the blood-brain barrier and enter neurons.
- As mentioned, declines in plasmalogen levels begin years before someone develops clinical symptoms of dementia.
- Reduced plasmalogen levels are also associated with beta-amyloid plaques, which contribute to the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.
Research has shown that selectively raising certain plasmalogens can benefit Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Is There a Plasmalogen Supplement?
The concept of a plasmalogen supplement is somewhat new, so only a few options are currently available.
One of the best and most highly rated is the ProdromeNeuro Performance Plasmalogens.
This supplement is expensive, but it’s a bioavailable supplement with omega-3 DHA. It’s the first of its kind and boasts a potency of 100 to 900 times that of other plasmalogen supplements.
We like this formulation of plasmalogen supplement because it’s designed to maximize absorption in your gut. Without being designed this way, the plasmalogens would be broken down during digestion and wouldn’t cross the blood-brain barrier where they’re most needed.
We also like this supplement because a neuroscientist developed it, it’s made in the United States, and it’s currently used by more than 600 clinics around the world. The neuroscientist who created the supplement is Dr. Dayan Goodenowe, who holds 19 patents and has authored 50 scientific papers. Dr. Goodenowe is the world’s foremost expert on plasmalogens and their role in cognitive health, memory, and neurodegenerative diseases.
This supplement contains 900 mg of omega-3 plasmalogen oil per serving. You take 4-8 soft gels a day for one to three months as a loading dose.
Another option is Plasmalogen S, which is a scallop plasmalogen. This supplement isn’t rated as highly as the ProdromeNeuro, but the concept is similar. The Plasmalogen S supplement has purified plasmalogen that comes from scallops from Japan.
This supplement is food-based, but in Japan, it’s used in clinical settings to help with Alzheimer’s dementia, Parkinson’s, sleep problems, mental health disorders, and metabolic syndrome.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the answers to the most frequently asked questions about these supplements are below.
Is there a plasmalogen supplement?
There are plasmalogen supplements available. There aren’t many options currently on the market, but there are a few, which we highlighted above. Most of the currently available supplements come from marine life, such as scallops and sea squirts.
Are plasmalogen supplements effective?
While it’s a relatively new area of research, there is some evidence that a plasmalogen supplement may be effective. Essentially, these supplements extract large amounts of plasmalogens from natural sources and put them into a concentrated form so that you don’t have to eat enormous amounts of seafood or meat. This is largely known as plasmalogen replacement therapy.
What foods contain plasmalogens?
Foods that contain plasmalogens are primarily seafood and meat. Examples include mussels and scallops, as well as beef and pork.
What is the function of plasmalogen?
The role of plasmalogens is to serve as an endogenous antioxidants, and they protect particles from oxidative stress. Plasmalogens are lipids that can prevent neuroinflammation, improve cognitive function and prevent neuronal cell death. Aging, inflammation, and stress reduce plasmalogen concentrations in cells, indicating that lowering them might be one of the risk factors for diseases associated with inflammation.
Final Verdict—Do You Need a Plasmalogen Supplement?
Suppose you’re concerned about general Pyrroloquinoline quinone. If you have a family history of dementia or neurodegenerative conditions or want to improve your health as you age, you might consider trying a plasmalogen supplement.