Posted 05 July 2017
A study of 28 brands of R supplements has found that the amount of the supposed active ingredient (monacolin K) varied widely from product to product and two products contained none.
Reference: Cohen P and others. Variability in strength of red yeast rice supplements purchased from mainstream retailers. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, June 23, 2017
The purified version of monacolin K is lovastatin, the active ingredient in the cholesterol-lowering drug Mevacor. Statin drugs are very useful, but they are not suitable for self-medication because optimal cholesterol-control should be tailored to individual risk factors and be medically monitored. The FDA has ordered at least ten companies to stop marketing red yeast rice products for cholesterol control. However, if no drug claims are made, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 permits their sale as “dietary supplements.” In 2010, a study of 12 red yeast rice products found that the amounts of presumed active ingredients varied by more than 100-fold and that four products contained significant levels of cotinine, a substance that is toxic to the kidneys of some animals. The researchers also found that some of the supplements provided as much of the cholesterol-lowering substances as prescription medication and others contained very little.
Reference: Gordon RY. and others. Marked variability of monacolin levels in commercial red yeast rice products: Buyer beware! Archives of Internal Medicine 170:1722-1727, 2010
Source: Consumer Health Digest #17-26, July 2, 2017