Cholesterol/LipidsConsumerLabRed Yeast Rice

ConsumerLab rates red yeast rice supplements

Red yeast rice can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

However, ConsumerLab tests reveal that the levels of cholesterol-lowering statin compounds in red yeast rice products vary by more than 100-fold — with some products having hardly any.

Products sold under the Solaray, Natural Balance, and VegLife brands contained levels of lovastatin within the range that the FDA considers naturally occurring and safe.

What’s concerning is that a potential kidney toxin, citrinin, was found in 4 of the products — the 3 listed above and Walgreens.

None of the products contained lead.

ConsumerLab also tested products from 21st Century, Cholestene, Chole-sterin, Healthy America, Nature’s Plus, and Schiff. Across the 10 products, levels of monacolins per pill ranged from 0.3 mg up to 10.6 mg.

Monacolins, the substances of interest in red yeast rice, are a group of fungal metabolites. Among 10 monacolins identified, monacolin K is chemically identical to the drug lovastatin (Mevacor) — the first LDL (bad) cholesterol-lowering drug in the statin class of pharmaceuticals.

A good review of red yeast rice and related topics can be found here.

A company called Nutraceutical, which manufactures the 3 brands containing citrinin, as well as the FDA-approved levels of lovastatin, has responded to the ConsumerLab report.

8/9/08 15:36 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.