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Red Yeast Rice

What Is the Correct Dosage of Red Yeast Rice?

Since research into red yeast rice is still in its early stages, experts still aren't sure of what the ideal dose should be. The amounts taken in some studies have varied from 1.2 to 2.4 grams per day. In China and other countries, estimates of average daily consumption are much higher.

Keep in mind that amount of monacolin -- perhaps the most important ingredient -- in a red yeast rice extract can vary a lot. There are many different strains of the yeast. Different types of fermentation are used. One study of different brands of red yeast rice supplements showed that the amount of monacolin ranged from 0% to 0.58%.

So even though studies have shown that red yeast rice can lower cholesterol, you can't really know if the supplement brand you're using will have that effect.

What Are the Risks of Red Yeast Rice?

Studies have shown that red yeast rice side effects are mild, like headaches, heartburn, and upset stomach. Side effects from prescription lovastatin include elevation of liver enzymes and muscle enzymes, muscle problems, and liver problems.

But more research needs to be done before we can know about the long-term safety of red yeast rice. We do know that some types of red yeast rice may be more dangerous than others because of high levels of other substances such as citrinic acid.

Red yeast rice also shares some of the same risks as statins, the class of drugs containing lovastain. Experts say that the risks of lovastatin would logically apply to red yeast rice. It may not be safe for everyone. You should not take it if you:

  • Have kidney disease
  • Have liver disease
  • Are pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding

In addition, anyone taking one of the following medicines should not use red yeast rice:

  • Statins to control cholesterol such as Crestor, Lescol, Lipitor, Pravachol, and Zocor
  • Other cholesterol drugs such as Lopid and Tricor
  • Drugs to suppress the immune system, like cyclosporine
  • Antifungal drugs such as Diflucan, Nizoral, and Sporanox
  • The antibiotics erythromycin and Biaxin
  • Serzone, an antidepressant
  • Protease inhibitors, used to treat HIV

People who have allergies to fungus or yeast should also be wary of using red yeast rice.

Red yeast rice may also interact with other drugs for blood pressure and thyroid problems and interact with other herbs and supplements you may be taking.

Whatever the state of your health, always talk to your doctor before you start using red yeast rice or any other supplement. Remember that all brands are not equal, and that red yeast rice isn't safe for everyone. Though red yeast rice looks like a promising treatment, more research needs to be done. For now, you should be cautious.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on September 25, 2012

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Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

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