Daily Disruptions: Making Sense of Early Memory Impairment (EMI)

By on September 6, 2016
Daily Disruptions: Making Sense of Early Memory Impairment (EMI)

By Gali Artzi, Ph.D. –

Do you find yourself complaining about your memory, having fogginess or trouble remembering details or misplacing items?  If so, you join the 11 percent of Americans age 45 and older who report experiencing worsening confusion or memory loss, according to a 2016 Alzheimer’s Association report. Of this group, 76 percent had not consulted a health care practitioner about their concerns. Early memory loss, also known as early memory impairment (EMI), can disrupt the day-to-day lives of many adults.

Early Memory Impairment

EMI is a complex condition that may be associated with many factors, including age, family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, depression, stress, diabetes, obesity, smoking, or lipid imbalances, to name a few. EMI is an umbrella term that includes both “subjective cognitive impairment” and “mild cognitive impairment.”

Subjective cognitive impairment (SCI) is marked by a subjective decline in memory and functioning, meaning that the memory loss is not confirmed by objective memory tests. When you say things like, “I’m having difficulty remembering how to do things I’ve always done,” or, “Just a few years ago I could remember so much more than I can now,” you may be experiencing SCI.

Mild cognitive impairment can be measured by objective testing – such as the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE) or Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) – by your health care practitioner. For individuals with MCI, their deficits do not impair their ability to perform everyday activities.

A study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association found that healthy adults reporting SCI are 4.5 times more likely to progress to more advanced stages of memory loss like MCI and dementia. Healthy adults with MCI are 10 times more likely to progress to dementia later in life, according to data published in Geriatric Neuropsychology: Assessment and Intervention.

Supporting Memory through Medical Foods

It is common for adults with EMI to feel that their memory loss is inevitable, but it’s not. There are several ways to support a healthy memory through the use of brain-challenging games, like crossword puzzles, and through a balanced diet. However, even by taking these measures, your brain and EMI may still be affected by lipid imbalances that go beyond what your diet can address.

Many studies show that an imbalance of lipids, or healthy fats, in the brain is associated with adult memory challenges. An emerging approach that is gaining increasing recognition for its potential to support memory and cognitive abilities in adults is the use of medical foods.

Unlike dietary supplements that are intended to enhance wellness in healthy populations, medical foods are formulated specifically to manage nutritional deficiencies that are associated with certain diseases and health conditions, including EMI. Medical foods are made of ingredients that meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) standard, and they must be based on recognized scientific principles.

During a 15-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 157 non-demented elderly participants with memory complaints, the participants who received the medical food Vayacog experienced improved short-term memory compared to the placebo group. What’s more, the participants with better cognitive status prior to the study responded better and showed improvement in short and long-term memory as well as learning skills.

You should seek advice from your health care practitioner if you feel your memory is declining. They will be able to assess your cognitive health and share ways to help support a healthy memory, including simple memory exercises you can do, or they can explore the use of medical foods to help address the lipid imbalances you may be experiencing.


By Gali Artzi, Ph.D., director of scientific affairs at VAYA Pharma. Dr. Artzi earned her Ph.D. in cell research and immunology from Tel Aviv University in Israel. Today, she leads scientific affairs at VAYA Pharma – the innovator of lipid-based medical foods that are used to manage nutritional imbalances associated with certain diseases and health conditions.






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Daily Disruptions: Making Sense of Early Memory Impairment (EMI)