The Good and Bad Surrounding Red Yeast Rice Supplementation

Published on October 03, 2016 by Dr. Colin O'Brien

Red Yeast Rice (RYR) is a reddish-purple rice fermented with the yeast Monascus Purpureus, from which it obtains its colour and taste. Most importantly, RYR has long been used as a natural aid for balancing cholesterol levels, often in addition to or as a natural substitute to pharmaceutical statins for cholesterol management.

RYR extracts contain numerous active ingredients such as GABA, monascins, ankaflavins, dimerumric acid and monacolins. Collectively these substances have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties with the ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. However, one of these ingredients is especially important to discuss because of its potential to positively and negatively affect the body. This notable ingredient is Monacolin K – a specific form from a wide array of monacolins.

What is Monacolin K and Why is it Significant?

Monacolin K (MK) is special because it is a naturally occurring statin, chemically similar to lovastatin. Although they share the same properties, lovastatin was patented as a pharmaceutical drug and is known by its brand name Mevacor (Merk & Co). Monacolin K, on the other hand, has become a controversial non-prescription dietary ingredient that is still found in most RYR extracts even though many regulatory bodies prohibit this.

The common perception is taking an RYR extract supplement is no different than taking a low-dose statin drug. This perception is not entirely inaccurate, given that almost all RYR supplements contain some Monacolin K in unstandardized amounts. Which is concerning given that, many harmful side effects have been noted with statin use. These include muscle pain and weakness, liver damage, increased blood sugar, poor memory and confusion. In addition, coenzyme Q10 levels in the body are depleted by statin drugs. You can read our blog post on how statins acheive this cholesterol lowering effects and why certain side effects arise in our blog “Confused about Cholesterol.”

Keeping in mind that almost all RYR supplements contain monacolin K, they therefore carry the same side effect risks found in many statin medications.Most RYR products also contain a harmful by-product known as citrinin which has been linked with kidney and liver toxicity.

What if it was possible to deliver the cholesterol balancing benefits of RYR without the risks of monacolin K or citrinin contamination?

A number of studies using RYR have found that its positive effects on cholesterol cannot be explained solely by the monacolin K content and instead are due to a combination of its active ingredients. In fact, Monocolin K-free red yeast rice has demonstrated the ability to favorably affect cholesterol levels in numerous clinical studies and monascin and ankaflavin appear to be the most important active ingredients in this process. With this in mind, a new patented RYR blend was born, known as RYR Ankascin -568-R™ .

RYR Ankascin -568-R™  is guaranteed to be free from monacolin K and citrinin, offering a safer alternative to other red yeast rice products on the market. RYR Ankascin -568-R™  has successfully completed two human clinical trials for cholesterol reduction, one human trial for blood pressure and one study for blood sugar reduction with additional studies underway! Because MK is not present in the product, there is no reduction in levels of coenzyme Q10, which is significant when assessing overall cardiovascular health.

In regards to its specific effect on blood lipids with three distinct mechanisms of action

1.)    higher LDL cholesterol influx into the liver, meaning lower LDL values

2.)    higher cholesterol excretion in bile acids, meaning lower total cholesterol

3.)    Increased HDL levels (the “good” cholesterol)

RYR Ankascin -568-R™ is advantageous because it is the only RYR product to be guaranteed free from both monacolin K and citrinin, while still providing many of the same associated benefits of a typical RYR. If you’re looking for a safe and effective solution toward protecting your arteries and balancing cholesterol, RYR Ankascin -568-R™  is the easy choice.

Select References:

Wang Y-R, et al. A randomized, double-blind clinical study to determine the effect of ANKASCIN 568 plus on blood glucose regulation, Journal of Food and Drug Analysis (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jf...

Lee CL et al. Monascin and ankaflavin have more anti-atherosclerosis effect and less side effect involving increasing creatinine phosphokinase activity than monacolin K under the same dosages. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Jan 9;61(1):143-50. doi: 10.1021/jf304346r.