- What is red yeast rice? Red yeast rice (i.e., rice on which a particular yeast has grown) naturally contains cholesterol-lowering lovastatin compounds (which are red in color) (see What It Is).
- Do red yeast rice supplements work? Red yeast rice can be very effective in lowering elevated levels of cholesterol, as shown in several clinical trials (see What It Does). However, not all red yeast rice supplements contain the amounts of lovastatins needed to lower cholesterol, and products normally do not list the amount of lovastatins they contain on their labels.
- What did CL's tests of red yeast rice find? The amount of lovastatins in the tested supplements ranged 1,500% -- from just 0.43 mg to 6.44 mg per 2-pill serving. When used according to their suggested serving sizes, only two of nine products provided amounts known to lower cholesterol in clinical trials (see What CL Found). One of these two was half the price of the other, making it our Top Pick. ConsumerLab also found that lovastatin levels had fallen by 37 to 81% since 2014 in products it previously tested. This could result in decreasing efficacy.
- Should you use red yeast rice? Based on the varying amounts of lovastatins in products and decreases in these amounts over time, it may be preferable to use a prescription statin drug to ensure a more consistent dose (prescription lovastatin is also available at a lower cost than lovastatin from red yeast rice) (see ConsumerTips™). However, red yeast rice may be effective for some people who don't respond to statin drugs and certain side effects may be diminished.
- How to take red yeast rice supplements? It is best to take red yeast rice in two divided doses each day, with one dose before bedtime, as this may improve efficacy. Typically, 1,200 to 2,400 mg of red yeast rice is taken daily (two to four 600 mg pills). (Rarely, taking red yeast rice at night may cause insomnia in some people).
- Safety and side effects of red yeast rice: Red yeast rice can cause digestive upset and other mild symptoms, and may also, like other statins, cause muscle breakdown. It can also negatively interfere with certain medications. Don't eat grapefruit or use St. John's wort when taking red yeast rice or other statins. See Concerns and Cautions for more information.