What is Red Yeast Rice? Should I take it as a supplement?

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

Red Yeast Rice is a substance made by fermenting rice with a species of yeast called monascus purpureus. It contains a variety of compounds known as monacolins which are known to inhibit the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which is necessary to make cholesterol. One monacolin in Red Yeast Rice is lovastin which is the key ingredient in statin drug Mevacor®. When taken over a 2 -3 month period, it may lower total cholesterol, LDL (lousy) cholesterol and triglycerides but you need to check with your physician about the use of this supplement. Research studies suggest 1.2 to 2.4 grams per day can be effective in lowering cholesterol. Do not take this supplement if you are also taking a statin!  Red Yeast Rice may share some of the same risks as statins such as elevated liver enzymes, muscle problems and liver problems. Buyer beware. Not all supplements are created equal. Check out www.consumerlab.com to find a supplement that contains the correct amount of monacolin, which is the most important active ingredient.


Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years. Barbara has a new health and wellness online magazine as well.

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