FAQHow can I lower my cholesterol through lifestyle?
The British Heart Foundation
has a free booklet available for download aimed at people with a high blood cholesterol level. It also gives advice to their friends and family. It explains what cholesterol is, its role in coronary heart disease, what causes a high blood cholesterol, and how it can be kept under control. It also explains which medicines are used to treat high blood cholesterol levels. This booklet is also available to download by clicking here
Is red yeast rice backed up by scientific research?
Yes, there is accumulating scientific data 1-3 on the beneficial effects or RYR as well as its historical use from China dating back many centuries where it has been referred to as Xuezhikang and has formed the focus for scientific and clinical studies.4-10
The recent favourable health claim approval by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)11 and reviews of the available safey dataand profiles are published on RYR. 12-18
In light of the review of the available scientific data, EFSA approved the following health claims that can be attributed to Red Yeast Rice;
- The following wording reflects the scientific evidence: “Monacolin K from red yeast rice contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations”.
- In order to obtain the claimed effect, 10 mg of monacolin K from fermented red yeast rice preparations should be consumed daily. The target population is adults in the general population.
Statins are known to lower levels of the important heart-health nutrient CoQ10. Do red yeast rice products also deplete levels of CoQ10?
There has been some concern that the beneficial effects of RYR on cholesterol levels may lower tissue CoQ10 in a similar way as conventional statin medications. To date, animal studies19 have supported this concern but the intake dosage of RYR used in these studies has been ludicrously high, far in excess of what a human would take in every day life and far in excess of the EFSA’s established safe and effective intake level. Animal studies have used intake levels of 1 gram RYR per Kg body weight as a low intake level and 5 grams RYR per Kg body weight as a high intake level.
Calculating this through to human equivalents for, say, a 80Kg person we would be looking as 80,000mg of RYR at of 1 gram RYR per Kg body weight through to 400,000mg at the high intake level of 5 grams RYR per Kg body weight. Bearing in mind that EFSA recommends 10mg of monocolin-K (the active RYR ingredient) per day which is obtained from just 1655mg of RYR we can see that this is 48 times less than the so-called ‘low dose’ used in the animal study. Despite this study showing that RYR could reduce Q10 levels the ‘low dose’ intake was associated with a significantly lower level of Q10 depletion and the study also concluded that the inhibitory effect of RYR on tissue Q10 was dose related. One could logically conclude that an EFAS approved level that was also 48 times lower than the low dose used in the study would have a negligible or clinically insignificant effect on tissue Q10 levels.
However, as part of a holistic heart and cardiovascular plan supplementary Q10 may be considered as beneficial and complementary to the effects or RYR. Studies have indicated that Q10 is needed in doses of 200mg20 or more when combating statin related myositis. This can be easily achieved by the use of a separate Q10 supplement.
Statins cause a lot of undesirable side effects such as muscle weakness and kidney damage. As a natural statin, could red yeast rice cause the same side effects?
Red Yeast Rice does contain active compounds with a proven effect in lowering and maintaining a healthy cholesterol level. Side effects are possible but this is a dose related effect and something that is not frequently reported by users of approved RYR products especially those that have stringent standardization manufacturing processes that ensure a pure and consistent level of the active compound, monocolin-K. Unregulated and non-standardized RYR products may contain variable levels of biologically active compounds that could contribute to unexpected side effects similar to those associated with statin therapy.
The EFSA scientific review11 made no mention of side effects when approving the health claims associated with the recommended intake level of 10mg monocolin-K and studies have also commented on how safe and well tolerated3 RYR is with one study going so far as to say that RYR and therapeutic lifestyle change decrease LDL cholesterol level without increasing CPK or pain levels and may be a treatment option for dyslipidemic patients who cannot tolerate statin therapy.2
Are there any contraindications?
As always, before taking any supplement you should consult your doctor first, especially if you are currently taking any prescription drugs. Red yeast rice should not be taken alongside statins or other cholesterol-lowering drugs, drugs to suppress the immune system, like cyclosporine, anti-fungal drugs, the antibiotics erythromycin and clarithromycin (Biaxin), the antidepressant Serzone, and protease inhibitors used to treat HIV. Red yeast rice may also interact with other drugs for blood pressure and thyroid problems. You shouldn't eat grapefruit when taking it either. RYR should not be taken when pregnant or breast feeding, nor is it a suitable supplement for children.
Are there any groups of people who shouldn't take red yeast rice?
Pregnant and breast-feeding women shouldn't take it, or anyone with kidney or liver disease. People who have allergies to fungus or yeast should also be wary of using red yeast rice. RYR is not a suitable supplement for children.
I've heard that some people class red yeast rice as a drug because it contains lovastatin (monacolin K), the active ingredient in the prescription drug Mevacor. As a result, I'm worried about it safety.
Monocolin-K is the active compound in RYR that will effectively and safely maintain a healthy cholesterol level when taken in accordance with the best scientific evidence we have to date; ie. at the EFSA approved dose of 10mg of monocolin-K per day. Because of the stringent standardization and manufacturing processes associated with our Red Yeast Rice supplement you can be assured that the dose you are taking conforms to these established safety guidelines.
In the past some brands of red yeast rice were found to contain citrinin (aka citrinic acid) which has been found to be harmful?
Citrinin is a nephrotoxin that can cause damage to the kidneys. Because no quantitive guidelines have been set, many companies have citrinin in their finalized product. In testing, citrinin is not detectable at 1ppm (parts per million), so we went even further and had ours tested at 200 ppb (parts per billion), which is the most precise capability of the analytical method being used. This makes our Red Yeast Rice extremely safe to use. Our product does not contain any traces of citrinin.
What are the typical results I can expect? And how long will it take to achieve them?
As you could expect, results are case and intake dose sensitive and may vary from person to person.
Here is a typical profile:
- Female, 65 years old.
- Stubborn cholesterol and triglyceride levels, resistant to diet and lifestyle changes
- Could not tolerate statin therapy due to muscular pain and unexplained fatigue
- After 3 months of RYR use her total cholesterol fell by 16%
- After 3 months of RYR use her LDL cholesterol fell by 29%
- After 3 months of RYR use her HDL cholesterol rise by 20%
- After 3 months of RYR use her triglycerides dropped by 37%
- Her liver function tests were unaltered by RYR use
- These figures followed introducing RYR after an uneventful 18 months on a strict dietary and lifestyle regime
How many of your Organic Red Yeast Rice capsules should I take?
The recommended intake to achieve the 10mg of monocolin-K would require 2 capsules twice a day, best with food. However, some people can achieve the desired result on just half this dose. A tub of Red Yeast Rice capsules contains 120 capsules (Vegetarian society UK approved), enough for one months supply at the full dose or 2 months supply at half dose.
I've heard that pushing cholesterol levels too low can be dangerous. How do I know this product won't push my levels too low?
There may be some confusion in regards to a very low cholesterol and the risk of cancer. It is known that cancer causes less cholesterol production in the liver. Low cholesterol may be associated with cancer, but does not cause it. Researchers showed that cholesterol starts to fall up to 8 years prior to a the onset of cancer, and that those with the greatest drop in cholesterol in a 4 year period without dietary changes or drugs to lower cholesterol were those most likely to develop cancer.21,22 However, low cholesterol does not cause cancer; the cancer caused the low cholesterol.
Some people have a naturally low cholesterol but these individuals are unlikely to be following a cholesterol lowering plan or be taking RYR.
For the general user of RYR it is recommended that a cholesterol blood test is performed 3-6 months after starting RYR, after which the intake level of RYR may be adjusted appropriately.
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