Red Yeast Rice Extract - Health Benefits and Other Information

Here, you will learn more about red yeast rice extract, including its health benefits.

Red yeast rice is an Asian dietary supplement that is created from fermenting red yeast in rice. In the United States, it has recently garnered attention due to its believed cholesterol lowering abilities, among its other benefits.

Red yeast rice has been used as far back as the tang Dynasty in 800 AD in China. Since then, it has been used for medicinal purposes, as a food preservative, and as a colorant. In fact, it brings the red hue to the popular Asian dish, Peking duck.

It is most commonly known for its ability to reduce cholesterol levels in a natural way. When it comes to its cholesterol lowering properties, red yeast rice contains compounds called statins which are created during the fermentation process. Statins are used as cholesterol lowering agents in popular medications such as Mevocor. Aside from lowering the LDL cholesterol, it was also seen to have increased the levels of HDL, which are considered to be the "good" cholesterol.

By lowering "bad" cholesterol levels, red yeast rice extract might help decrease the risk of heart attacks and other complications associated with high cholesterol.

However, in 2001, red yeast rice supplements were deemed too similar to Mevacor, which is regulated, and now the supplements are difficult to find. The ones that can be found have been reformulated for the most part.

There are other health benefits to red yeast rice extract, too. In China, it has also been used quite a bit for medicinal purposes and has been used to remedy diarrhea, improve blood circulation, and ease indigestion. There is also some limited research showing that it might be helpful in controlling diabetes and reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, as well.

Red yeast rice extract can be purchased as a standalone product, or as part of a combination of substances. Many of the red yeast rice supplements come in capsules that contain 600 milligrams, with a daily recommended dose being 2400 milligrams.

One of the supposed benefits of red yeast rice extract, when used as a method of lowering cholesterol, is that it is a natural method, as opposed to other prescriptions that do the same thing. However, a contradiction to this is that the supplements that contain the extract are not that different, because prescription drugs contain lovastatin, which was isolated from a strain of fungus, making it just as "natural" as the extract of red yeast rice.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have taken action against some of the manufacturers that make red yeast rice supplements which contain lovastatin. As a result, many of these supplements no longer contain any lovastatin, which means that they might not be effective in lowering cholesterol.

It is recommended that individuals take red yeast rice extract under the supervision of a physician, even though it is a natural substance. Since it is a statin, it is important that periodic blood work be administered. There are some side effects as well, including gastrointestinal upsets and muscle pains associated with it.

Learn more about red yeast rice through the other related articles and pages.

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