Mild cognitive impairment can pack major risk

If it takes you a little longer to calculate the dinner tip these days, or if the occasional name stuck on the tip of your tongue never quite rolls off, don't stress it too much.

It's a normal part of aging.

But if it goes beyond that and starts to interfere with your daily life, don't ignore it -- because mild cognitive impairment (MCI) could be your first and only warning sign of a far more serious problem in the brain.

One new study finds that MCI could even boost your risk of an early death.

The problem with MCI is that spotting it isn't always as easy it sounds -- because there are actually two forms of the disease.

The first is the classic memory loss and absent-mindedness. It's called amnestic MCI, and the new study finds it'll raise your risk of an early death by 68 percent.

The other one is much tougher to identify, even for doctors, because it involves no memory loss at all. Instead, it affects your thinking and clouds your judgment. You make poor decisions, lose track of time or handle multi-step projects in the wrong order.

And if you've got this non-amnestic form of this disease, your risk of death actually doubles.

The study doesn't show a reason for the difference in risk or even why mild cognitive impairment could lead to an early death in the first place, but I'm sure there are a number of factors at work here.

First, any form of cognitive impairment could be a sign of other serious risk factors, including exposure to metals, hormonal problems, poor circulation, blocked arteries or nutritional deficiencies.

All of these things could boost your risk of disease and death.

And second, the non-amnestic form could lead to such poor judgment that you might fail to care for yourself properly or even do something that could directly lead to injury or death.

Fortunately, there are ways to protect your brain and slash your risk of getting either form of MCI, or slow the progression of the condition if you do happen to get it.

Start with brain-boosting nutrients such as fish oil, B vitamins and ginkgo biloba.

If you need a little more help, or if your condition is more advanced, seek the advice of an experienced holistic medical doctor who can test you for exposure to toxins, hormones and other common conditions that can cause MCI.