Nutrients such as omega-3 oils and phosphatidylserine have been considered to exert stress-buffering effects. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we investigated effects of omega-3 phosphatidylserine (PS) on perceived chronic stress, assessed by the Trier Inventory for Chronic Stress (Schulz P, Schlotz W, Becker P. TICS: Trierer Inventar zum chronischen Stress. Göttingen, Germany: Hogrefe, 2004.), and on psychobiological stress responses to an acute laboratory stress protocol, the Trier Social Stress Test (Neuropsychobiology.1993;28:76-81), at baseline and after the treatment period. We hypothesized that omega-3 PS supplementation lowers chronic and acute stress.

Sixty healthy nonsmoking men aged 30 to 60 years either received omega-3 PS or a matching placebo for 12 weeks. Results revealed no significant main effect of omega-3 PS supplementation on stress measures. However, by accounting for chronic stress level of study participants, stress-reducing effects of omega-3 PS were found exclusively for high chronically stressed subjects. As expected, these individuals also showed a blunted cortisol response to the Trier Social Stress Test.

Treatment with omega-3 PS seemed to restore the cortisol response in this particular subgroup of low responders. These results are in line with previous findings.

We conclude that subgroups characterized by high chronic stress and/or a dysfunctional response of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis may profit from omega-3 PS supplementation.