Sunday, February 26, 2012

Red Yeast Rice And Cholesterol

A growing number of people are choosing to use red yeast rice rather than a manufactured statin to reduce their cholesterol levels. Many claim that they have less to no side effects from red yeast rice in comparison to manufactured statins.

Some of the side effects that some patients taking statins complain about are
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Personality changes
  • Myopathy
  • Neuropathy
  • Chronic neuromuscular degeneration
  • and CQ10 inhibition
Dr. Duane Gravelin has written about these statin side effects based on his own experiences with this drug in his two books - Lipitor Thief of Memory
and Statin Drugs Side Effects and the Misguided War on Cholesterol ( links).

If you take a statin or use red yeast rice, you should also take a CQ10 supplement.

What is Red Yeast Rice?

Red Yeast Rice is a rice that has been fermented by a red yeast called Monascus purpureus. RYR has been used as a dietary staple by Chinese and other Asian cultures for many centuries.

In the 1990's, medical scientists discovered that RYR significantly reduces LDL-C and total cholesterol in humans. Actually, Lovastatin, the first statin approved in the US, was developed from the analysis of red yeast rice.

An interview with cardiologist Dr. David J. Becker discusses the results of a small study showing that RYR lowered LDL-C as well as Pravastatin. He cautions, however, that "their results could not be extrapolated to other red yeast rice formulations and that no inference about the long-term effects of this product on cardiovascular morbidity or mortality could be drawn from this study."

For additional information of this study, see Red Yeast Rice May Lower Cholesterol by WebMD.

Safety And Potency Concerns

A study conducted by found that some red yeast rice is contaminated with a yeast toxin called citrinin, which can damage your kidneys. They also found a wide range of lovastatin compounds in the various brands of RYR that they analyzed.

I have not read their report, but a reader in the Preventive Medicine Research Institute forum stated that citrinin was found in samples of RYR brands Solaray, Natural Balance, VegLife and Walgreens.

This reader also stated that the potency ranges were as follows:
  • Low (1.2 - 1.3 mg) - Natural Balance, Solaray and VegLife
  • Moderate (3.1 - 3.4 mg) - 21st Century and Schiff
  • High (4.8 - 5.2 mg) - Cholestene, Chole-sterin and Healthy America
Here are some consumer comment links on their experiences with red yeast rice:

WebMd - User Reviews and Ratings - Red Yeast Rice
21st Century Reviews
Nature's Plus

Evidence appears to show that red yeast rice does a good job in reducing LDL-C. However, do some research to make sure that your brand is not contaminated, and has the potency that you expect to be using.

One mistake that people taking either statins or red yeast rice make is thinking that these drugs and supplements allows them to live an unhealthy lifestyle. This is a mistake. Statins or RYR will not keep you healthy if you never exercise and just eat cheese burgers and ice cream every day. To maintain your health and fitness, in addition to statins or RYR, you should also
  • Do moderate intensity exercises 30-minutes a day for at least 5 days each week
  • Eat a Mediterranean type of diet
  • Keep your saturated fat intake low
  • Minimize your sugar intake
  • Eat a lot of fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables
  • Don't smoke

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