The Chicago Tribune “Julie’s Health Club” blog reported that “some red yeast rice products have been shown to lower cholesterol levels as effectively as moderate doses of statin drugs.” However, “the supplement isn’t quite ‘ready for primetime,’ according to researchers who found that 12 over-the-counter red yeast products had strikingly inconsistent amounts of active ingredients.”
The research, “published in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, also showed that four of the 12 products (one third of the sample) contained citrinin, a contaminant that is toxic to kidneys of animals.” WebMD and MedPage Today also covered the story.
It for this reason that I do NOT recommend anyone take red yeast rice. In addition to the above study, a recent analysis by ConsumerLab found red yeast rice products varied sharply in their potency, and some were contaminated with a toxic byproduct called citrinin.
This is not true of the prescription statins, which are regulated by the FDA. And, with prescription drugs you can be sure:
- There are no contaminants,
- The pills are the same from bottle to bottle,
- The pills can be absorbed into your body, and
- The pills are made with an approved manufacturing process.
Unfortunately, in the U.S., the same is not true of most supplements.
Furthermore, generic statins are available at most pharmacies for $4 for a month’s supply or $10 for a three-month’s supply. That’s much, much less expensive that red yeast rice supplements.
However, there is one protection for the American consumer, when it comes to dietary supplements – and that is to see if it has been evaluated by an independent testing lab. And the lab that has tested more supplements than any other is ConsumerLab. Check them out.