Lori Jo Vest
Lori Jo Vest is the epitome of our culture's busy entrepreneur. Besides running her growing business, PopSpeed Digital Marketing, she recently launched a podcast to help young professionals navigate the landmines of the business world. With her overstuffed schedule and hectic lifestyle, Lori became interested in Memory Health as a way to enhance executive function, support mental clarity, and ensure future brain health. Lori has written extensively in the health and wellness categories, including patient/consumer education and social media content for global CPG brands, health and wellness education programs, and national and regional healthcare networks. Learn more about Lori.
The Alzheimer’s Association is where most Americans go for advice, information and resources related to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. When a family member starts showing signs of the disease, or gets a diagnosis, a simple Google search delivers a wealth of information, from the Alzheimer’s Association and many other researchers and medical professionals. We’ve gathered some of the most important educational material for you here.
There are currently over five million Americans aged 65+ who are living with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That number is predicted to triple by 2050.
Contributing to the growing number of cases of these brain diseases is the increase in early-onset patients, since Alzheimer’s and dementia are also affecting people at much younger ages. In fact, according to a 2020 report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, 131,000 Americans between the ages of 30 and 64 were diagnosed with early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in 2017. That number is 300% higher than the same reports in 2013, according to Forbes.
Those numbers are staggering, yet there is hope. Several organizations are working on prevention and curative efforts, from the Alzheimer's Association to brain health supplement research teams for companies like Memory Health.
We’ve all heard of Alzheimer’s disease and the horrible progression it can take, though what exactly is it?
The National Institute on Aging says that “Alzheimer's is a progressive brain disease. It is characterized by changes in the brain—including amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary, or tau, tangles—that result in loss of neurons and their connections. These and other changes affect a person’s ability to remember and think and, eventually, to live independently.”
There are two types of Alzheimer’s disease - early-onset and late-onset. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease occurs in people between the ages of 30 and 65, and is relatively rare. It also has a genetic component. Late-onset Alzheimer’s occurs after the age of 65 and may or may not be passed down from one generation to the next.
Many people confuse dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a specific disease. Dementia is not.”
Dementia describes a range of troubling symptoms including memory decline, a reduction in ability to reason and other issues with cognitive skills. There are several types of dementia, caused by several different conditions. Alzheimer's disease makes up 60% to 80% of dementia cases. It is caused by damage to the specific brain cells related to thought, behavior and emotions and is not a normal part of the aging process.
There are seven clinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease, which are referred to as the Global Deterioration Scale (GDS).
The most common risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is advanced age. Scientists believe this is due to the long term effects of the body’s immune responses and inflammation on the brain. Because of this, it is never too early to start taking care of your brain.
Genetics play a part in developing Alzheimer’s disease, with family history shown as a significant risk factor.
The Alzheimer’s Association says, “Those who have a parent, brother or sister with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop the disease … A family history of Alzheimer’s is not necessary for an individual to develop the disease. However, research shows that those who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer's are more likely to develop the disease than those who do not have a first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s. Those who have more than one first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s are at an even higher risk. When diseases tend to run in families, either heredity (genetics), environmental factors — or both — may play a role.
Cardiovascular disorders—like high blood pressure and high cholesterol—are known contributing factors. In fact, some research shows that a patient can have amyloid plaques and tau tangles and not get Alzheimer’s, if they don’t have contributing cardiovascular issues. In fact, 80% of Alzheimer’s patients also have cardiovascular disorders.
Scientists believe that regular exercise can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease by supporting better cardiovascular health and increasing both blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
Brain health is directly impacted by the health of the heart and blood vessels. While the brain only makes up 2% of a person’s body weight, it consumes 20% of the body’s oxygen and energy. An unhealthy heart means the brain doesn’t get the oxygen and nutrient-rich blood that it needs to function properly.
The brain needs specific antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to stay healthy, and today’s diets, which are full of highly-processed, sugary food, can cause inflammation and immune responses that negatively impact brain health. Eating the proper amount of healthy foods—including significant consumption of leafy green vegetables, colorful fruits, nuts and fish—has been shown to delay the onset of brain-related disorders by as many as 4.5 years.
Lack of Social Connections
Social isolation is a major source of psychological stress in the elderly and research demonstrates the negative effects of the resulting stress hormones and inflammatory oxidation on the brain.
Besides the above risk factors, women are more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, two-thirds of all AD patients are women. To address this issue, celebrity journalist and author Maria Shriver has created an association to fight Alzheimer’s disease in women, The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.
Significant scientific information is available about Alzheimer’s prevention, primarily related to lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. Minimizing brain inflammation and cardiovascular issues with the right nutrition and exercise have been scientifically shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders.
According to Harvard Health, a combination of lifestyle changes may help people avoid getting an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, even if they are already showing signs of amyloid and tau proteins in their brain.
"For 1% of all cases, there are three genes that determine definitively whether or not you will have Alzheimer's, and all three relate to amyloid-beta production, which in these cases is likely the cause of Alzheimer's," says Dr. Gad Marshall, associate medical director of clinical trials at the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. "For the other 99%, amyloid and tau are closely associated with Alzheimer's, but many things may contribute to the development of symptoms, such as inflammation in the brain, vascular risk factors, and lifestyle."
While preventing and treating dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are a daunting challenge, many dedicated professionals are working on prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Early detection is an important aspect of Alzheimer’s disease treatment and recent advancements predict that, in the future, research will allow clinicians to detect signs of the disease in brain scans in much more detail than is currently available.
For example, scientists have long known that Alzheimer’s is associated with a build-up of amyloid plaques and “clumps” or “tangles” of a compound called tau. According to The Telegraph, “their relative importance (of each of these substances) has been debated for decades - with most efforts to find medication to combat Alzheimer’s disease focused on amyloid-targeting drugs, with limited success. The new US trial suggests the presence of tau may be more significant. Scientists said it appears to be a ‘key driver’ of the condition, far surpassing amyloid in predicting likely deterioration.”
This research is helping in the development of new medications that can be started by the patient much sooner, to help stave off the build-up of amyloid plaques and tau. The ability to track the development of tau in the brain will allow scientists to develop medications that target the protein. With early intervention and new drugs that target these substances, it’s possible that medical professionals can slow or eventually stop this brain disease.
Research is also underway to help the medical community better distinguish between Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases, like recently-discovered LATE, or limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy. These conditions can cause difficulties in research for treatment of Alzheimer’s, since they have similar symptoms, but completely different causes. Medication testing for Alzheimer’s conducted on patients that unknowingly have a different condition can result in skewed data, causing delays in the development of preventative and symptom-related treatment, and eventually, maybe even a cure.
Another advancement that is happening in Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment is extensive research into the use of supplements for brain health. According to Alzheimer's News Today, the UK granted a brain supplement a patent for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The Alzheimer's News Today article states, "The United Kingdom has awarded a patent for a proprietary brain health supplement developed to prevent and treat neurodegenerative disease. Also called Memory Health®, the all-natural nutritional supplement is made especially for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia patients." A patent is currently pending in the United States. You can learn more about this new advancement in Alzheimer's treatment and prevention by continuing on to the next paragraph.
Interested in the research behind the use of supplements for brain health? Check out our following Brain Blog articles:
The United Kingdom recently awarded a patent for a proprietary brain health supplement developed to prevent and treat neurodegenerative disease. Called Memory Health®, the all-natural nutritional supplement is made specifically to treat Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia patients. Memory Health LLC, the company, is the sole licensee for the unique formulation that has been patented by the United Kingdom Patent Office.
“This is a major milestone in the endless quest to prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Frederic J. Jouhet, founder of Michigan-based Memory Health®, in a press release. “We’re so happy to be able to provide hope for current sufferers and their families, as well as a solution to prevent future disease, using a scientifically designed and scientifically tested nutritional supplement,” he said.
Developed by European investigators who for decades studied the role of nutrition in brain health, the Memory Health formula was ultimately tested in three clinical trials on patients with healthy brains and on those with AD.
According to the April 2018 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease , clinical trials showed improvement in memory and brain health in all patients who used the Memory Health® formula. Caregivers in the study also reported that Alzheimer’s patients who took Memory Health® experienced enhanced memory, vision and overall quality of life.
“The inventors have found that the macular carotenoids such as a mixture of meso-zeaxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin, or omega-3 fatty acids, given separately, have no effect individually on the progression of dementia, but when given together are remarkably and surprisingly effective in halting or retarding the progression of the disease, and improving cognitive function,” according to the patent summary.
A growing volume of scientific evidence has suggested that supplementation of certain nutritional brain compounds may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. The study, “Nutritional Intervention to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease: Potential Benefits of Xanthophyll Carotenoids and Omega-3 Fatty Acids Combined”, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, investigated the effects of supplemental xanthophyll carotenoids plus omega-3 fatty acids on disease progression in patients with AD.
Evidence suggests positive outcomes for AD patients who consumed a combination of xanthophyll carotenoids plus fish oil, though further study is needed. The supplement, taken orally, works by delivering essential antioxidants and anti-inflammatories through the blood-brain barrier to the brain. Memory Health’s® natural ingredients include carotenoids, omega-3s and vitamin E.
“This patent granted in the United Kingdom to a group of relentless researchers in the space of nutrition for the eyes and the brain is the first ray of hope in the fight for better brain health,” said Jouhet. “This product gives us a roadmap to determine the exact nutritional deficiencies that cause degenerative brain conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. And it provides a scientifically designed supplement to remedy that shortage of nutrients in our daily diets.”
The Memory Health® supplement has been available in the U.K. since 2017, and was introduced in the U.S. in 2018. The formulation’s patent as a preventative and treatment sets the product apart from numerous other supplements now commercially available. A U.S. patent is pending.
“This is real science proving real results for real people,” said Edward Shehab, Memory Health® managing partner. “This second patent continues to validate the true efficacy of this product versus so-called industry leaders with less science but larger advertising budgets. Everybody claims to have success, but our success has been proven by clinical research trials, published in highly respected medical journals and further validated with this latest patent.”
Significant research suggests that nutrition greatly affects the aging brain’s cognition and overall health. Research also suggests that healthy eating patterns are associated with cognitive benefits. So scientists are now rigorously testing the Mediterranean and MIND diets to see if they can prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease or age-related cognitive decline.
Unfortunately, several studies show that over 90% of Americans don’t get the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals their bodies (and brains) need from their diets. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has conducted research that demonstrates that, in just about every age and gender category, American eating patterns don’t include enough vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, seafood, and oil. Plus, American diets are loaded with unhealthy food like refined grains, sugar, saturated fats, and excess sodium. The typical American diet contributes to inflammation, a negative factor when it comes to brain health and Alzheimer’s risk.
Another serious issue with getting enough nutrition from food is soil depletion. Without proper farming techniques, which have been evolving from those of our ancestors, each successive crop of vegetable contains less nutrients than the one before. According to the Scientific America article, “ Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?”, between 1975 and 1997:
This drought of nutrients in our food leaves many of us looking for other ways to get the right amount of the right nutrients to our brains.
To get better, more brain healthy nutrients into your daily consumption of meals and snacks:
Eat a balanced diet that includes at least three fruits and vegetables every day. Look for high-antioxidants colorful fruits and vegetables, like green peppers, red tomatoes, purple grapes, dark red berries, and orange carrots.
Higher consumption of green leafy vegetables (which are rich in the xanthophyll carotenoid lutein) has been associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a slower rate of cognitive decline.
Make sure your diet also includes proteins like lean pork and beef, beans, and chicken, along with f oods high in Omega-3s like cold water fish, along with flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds. Avoid consuming too many inflammation-causing foods like sugar and trans fats.
The typical American diet also includes far too few of the nutrients the brain needs, specifically carotenoids, omega-3s and vitamin E). Scientific research has shown that people with higher levels of carotenoids and omega-3s in their brains exhibit higher cognitive functioning, and that patients with Alzheimer's disease are often deficient in these specific brain-health nutrients.
Further studies show that the carotenoids (Lutein and Zeaxanthin) and omega-3 DHA enhance memory in individuals deficient in these nutrients. In fact, subjects in clinical trials given a DHA Lutein combination demonstrated
statistically significant improvements in a Shopping List Memory Test and MIR ("Memory-in-Reality") Apartment Test.*
Research also finds that the human brain requires at least 12 mg of l utein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin every day. Unfortunately, the typical American diet includes less than 10% of those recommended daily amounts.
Interested in nutrition for brain health? Check out our following Brain Blog articles:
Some of the most critical nutrients for the brain are the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. They’re called “essential” fatty acids because our bodies can’t create them; we have to eat them as part of our diet. Omega-3s help the body build new cells, since they’re considered the building blocks of healthy cell membranes. Omega-3s also support healthy connections between your brain and your body, aiding in memory, cognition, and mental health. Adding cold water fish like salmon to your dinner menu a few nights a week is one of the best ways to add Omega-3s to your diet.
The Brain is nearly 60% fat, so it makes complete sense that Omega-3 fats are important for brain health. In fact, DHA comprises 40% of the fatty acids in the brain.
During times of stress, the cells in our bodies and our brains are subject to oxidation and chronic inflammation, sometimes over extended periods of time. Adding Omega-3s to the daily diet can reduce that oxidation and inflammation, helping prevent some of the damage that can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
Carotenoids, known scientifically as Xanthophyll carotenoids , are powerful, plant-based pigments (nutrients) that are responsible for the yellow colors of fruits and vegetables. They can be found in the highest quantities in dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, peppers, and broccoli. They act as potent antioxidants to neutralize dangerous free radicals and reduce oxidative stress on the brain. They also support the brain by reducing inflammation.
There are more than 600 carotenoids that exist in nature, but only 3 that exist in the eyes and brain — Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-zeaxanthin are the names of the three specific carotenoids that are concentrated in the retina of the eye, (together these three are known as macular pigment). Macular pigment levels correlate positively and significantly with brain concentrations of lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin. In fact, scientists now use measurements of macular pigment in the eye as a non-invasive way to measure brain nutrition. Higher macular pigment levels have been associated with better cognitive performance in both healthy and cognitively impaired subjects.
Scientific research proves that higher levels of carotenoids correlate with improved cognitive performance in healthy adults. On that same note, studies also show that lower carotenoid levels correlate with mild cognitive impairment, and that patients with Alzheimer's disease are actually deficient in carotenoids.
Futhermore, Xanthophyll carotenoids have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, which cause Alzheimer’s disease. It is because of this that they play a role in brain health, both maintaining and optimizing cognition and reducing the risk of the decline of cognition.
The effect of carotenoid supplementation on cognitive health and brain function is still being researched. We know that the brain is vulnerable to damage from oxidative stress. Plus, the integrity of the blood-brain barrier is reduced as individuals age, so the brain has an even higher susceptibility to oxidative damage. Fortunately, carotenoids are efficient scavengers of reactive oxygen, helping reduce oxidative damage to the brain.
Research also suggests that carotenoids have anti-inflammatory properties, known to play a positive role in reducing neurological disorders, potentially through the reduction of inflammation and the resulting damage.
Interested in learning more about carotenoids for brain health? Check out our following Brain Blog articles:
You may be familiar with the antioxidant carotenoid Lutein. Known as the " eye vitamin," lutein has become popular in recent years for its proven eye health benefits and can easily be found in the supplements aisle at the drugstore — But scientists are now finding more and more links between lutein and cognitive function. This is because the eyes and brain are tightly connected and as a result Lutein concentrates in both the eyes and the brain.
We all have a certain amount of lutein in both our eyes and brain, but our bodies can’t create it, so we have to ingest it through our diets. Unfortunately, that’s becoming increasingly difficult with our current farming processes - land is over-farmed, food is loaded with pesticides (i.e., the Dirty Dozen), and fruits and vegetables are declining in nutritional value. According to the USDA, one bowl of spinach in 1953 would have had the same nutritional value as over more than 43 bowls of spinach today, an 84% loss of nutrition.
This means if you’re focused on a healthy diet, you most likely don’t ingest enough Lutein to satisfy the needs of your eyes and brains. Nutritional supplementation is more important now than it’s ever been.
So why all the emphasis on Lutein? Because it’s what is known as an “extreme antioxidant.” It fends off free radicals, thereby reducing oxidative stress on the brain. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory substance. And when you add the carotenoids Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin to reduce inflammation even further, this specific combination provides an optimal level of nutrients for the brain, supporting cognitive function, memory and mood.
The other critical carotenoids are Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin. Like Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin are antioxidant carotenoids, found in leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli. Meso-Zeaxanthin is also found in some fish, including trout.
Unfortunately, like other critical nutrients, it’s virtually impossible to ingest these nutrients in our daily diets in the quantities our brains need.
According to Professor Riona Mulcahy, "The difficulty is that to get the amount of these nutrients that you need per day to achieve these results, isn't possible from your normal every day diet … The unique Memory Health® formulation gives you the right amount to give the results that you need... So it's not just diet alone, it's really getting enough of it. This is especially difficult today as a lot of our food is now mass produced, fish is farmed, and the nutritional value of our food is going down. So even with a healthy diet, we don't receive enough of these nutrients. What Memory Health does is deliver specific key nutrients directly to the brain to prevent the brain from degenerating.”
These three carotenoids (Zeaxanthin, Meso-Zeaxanthin, and Lutein) work best in combination, reducing free radicals and oxidative stress on the brain, along with providing powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Together, these carotenoids protect the brain and support cognitive function, memory and mood.
Significant research supports the claims made by the makers of Memory Health®, including that the product delivers brain-specific, targeted nutrients, directly through the brain-blood barrier, in a concentrated and controlled dose. According to the description on the product page, Memory Health® is an all-natural, nutritional supplement that is clinically proven to support long-term brain health by replenishing the brain's natural ingredients. The patented formula is clinically proven to improve memory, mood, focus and clarity.
The science behind Memory Health® demonstrates that it protects and supports brain health, with functional benefits observed in memory, cognitive function, executive function, mental health, mood, focus, and clarity. The patented formula combines plant-based nutrients (specifically the carotenoids Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin), the omega-3s DHA and EPA, and natural Vitamin E. Click through for a full breakdown of all the ingredients.
Memory Health® was developed following 20 years of scientific research on supplemental carotenoids. It was then independently funded and scientifically tested in clinical trials on both healthy brains and diseased brains, specifically those with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The results of these trials showed improvement in brain health across the board for both healthy and AD brains, and were published in the scientific Journal of Alzheimer's Disease as a breakthrough for long-term brain health, representing a "glimmer of hope for Alzheimer's Disease." More trials are currently underway.
Following the successful clinical trials published in the scientific Journal of Alzheimer's Disease (JAD), the proprietary Memory Health® supplement was officially granted a patent for the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative disease, specifically Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
According to the patent granted to Memory Health®, research suggests that Alzheimer's disease (AD) may be a nutrient-deficiency disease. The nutrients in question are the active ingredients in Memory Health® : the carotenoids (Lutein and Zeaxanthin) and DHA, all of which have been identified as existing in the human brain. These nutrients have the potential to support brain health and reduce AD via their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and structural roles. The positive medical responses observed in the Memory Health clinical trials are due to the correction of this deficiency. Stabilization of brain health and function is achieved, consistent with halting AD progression in patients supplemented with Memory Health® daily. *
In other words, all of the ingredients In Memory Health® have clinically proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to reduce oxidative stress, dangerous free radicals, and inflammation on the brain. These powerful nutritional compounds also promote healthy cell membranes, which are important for the brain connections that support memory, cognition, and emotional well-being (mental health).
The Memory Health® brain supplement has no negative or long-term side effects, and can be used in combination with other AD treatments with no adverse side effects. Namenda Solution (medically known as Memantine) is used to treat moderate to severe dementia related to Alzheimer's disease. Donepezil is also used to treat confusion related to Alzheimer's disease. Of note, there have been no reported adverse effects or related issue identified in patients with Alzheimer's disease on the above medications and the use of the Memory Health® supplement. Indeed, the patients in the recently published trial that were on Memory Health® were also on standard medical care including Memantine with no reported issues. Biologically, it makes perfect sense that no issues have been reported as the active ingredients in Memory Health® are 100% all-natural... In other words, Memory Health® is 100% safe.
To learn more, visit Supplement Facts for a full breakdown of the product’s ingredients.
Caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease is demanding and harrowing. Many caregivers are managing their own families and careers, in addition to taking responsibility for an elderly person whose condition may differ in severity from day to day.
Alzheimer’s support groups can be very comforting and helpful to caregivers of a patient with AD. Having so many additional responsibilities - from daily care duties to doctor’s visits and finances - can cause a caregiver to neglect themselves.
Organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging have links on their websites to local in-person resources, online support groups, and educational material to help caregivers manage the physical and emotional demands of caring for a loved one with AD.
Here are some of the organizations that provide significant resources and information to their communities:
The Alzheimer’s Association is one of the most well-known and trusted Alzheimer’s support initiatives. Their mission says they exist to “eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.” Their website offers extensive resources, including caregiver support, Alzheimer’s information and volunteer opportunities.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation offers memory screening, support resources and a significant amount of online activities, like chair fitness, art classes and food prep tips. The organization was founded in 2002 by a caregiver that saw a need for support for caregivers after caring for her mother for twelve years.
Maria Shriver founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement to raise awareness about women’s increased risk for Alzheimer’s and to educate the people about the lifestyle changes they can make to protect their brains from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They provide funding for research, educational resources, caregiver support and advocacy for Alzheimer’s patients and their families.
One Alzheimer’s dedicated organization, Hilarity for Charity (HFC), relies on humor to raise awareness and support research. Founded by Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller Rogen, HFC is focused on reaching the millennial audience. Their storytelling contest, Humans of Dementia, encourages high school and college students to share their stories of family members who have passed from Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.
Another way that caregivers can find solace, and avoid feeling isolated and alone, is by reading others’ stories. Resources like caregiver.org publish stories submitted by AD caregivers, who share inspiring moments and the bonus of helpful tips and information.
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