Costco Sale on Red Yeast Rice for Lowering Cholesterol

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UPDATE: Sale pricing has been extended for online orders to July 26, 2009.

Red yeast rice is an alternative to more risky statin drugs that may help to lower LDL cholesterol and trigylcerides without as many side effects as statins. Costco is selling red yeast rice at $5 off per bottle until June 28, 2009. That brings the price down to $9.39 per bottle of 180 tablets of 600mg each.


Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice has chemical compounds similar to statins, but at much lower levels. It has been part of the Chinese diet for thousands of years, and as such has a much longer track record than high-dosage statins. It is usually packaged in 600mg capsules, and suggested dosages generally vary from two 600mg to four 600mg capsules per day.

Red yeast rice has been studied in the US and China and there is solid evidence that it may help lower LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and risk for cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks. There is also some evidence it may help to increase beneficial HDL cholesterol. As reported by Wikipedia:

(from Wikipedia: Red Yeast Rice)

“In 2006 Liu et al. published a meta-analysis of clinical trials (Chinese Med 2006;1:4-17). The article cited 93 published, controlled clinical trials (91 published in Chinese). Total cholesterol decreased by 35 mg/dl, LDL-cholesterol by 28 mg/dl, triglycerides by 35 mg/dl, and HDL-cholesterol increased by 6 mg/dl. Zhao et al. reported on a four-year trial in people with diabetes (J Cardio Pharmacol 2007;49:81-84). There was a 40-50% reduction in cardio events and cardio deaths in the treated group. Ye et al. reported on a four-year trial in elderly Chinese patients with heart disease (J Am Geriatr Soc 2007;55:1015-22). Deaths were down 32%. There is at least one report in the literature of a statin-like myopathy caused by red yeast rice (Mueller PS. Ann Intern Med 2006;145:474-5).”

Combining Red Yeast Rice and Statins: Synergy with Fewer Side Effects

Some doctors and patients are suggesting that you first try red yeast rice to lower LDL cholesterol and once you know what that will do, then add a low dosage of a statin drug to improve the result further. This helps keep the statin dosage lower which helps avoid side effects. Further, some research has found that the compounds in red yeast rice work differently than statins and have an additive effect.

Not Recommended for Those With Liver Disease

Statins and red yeast rice are not recommended for people with liver disease. To be cautious, you should have liver panel tests performed periodically to ensure that it does not adversely affect your liver function. To further reduce the risk of lowered liver function, you may also consider adding supplements beneficial for the liver such as milk thistle containing silymarin.

Don’t Consume Grapefruit While Using Red Yeast Rice or Statins

If you are taking statins or red yeast rice, you should avoid consuming grapefruit and grapefruit juice products. They can interfere with liver metabolism and dangerously raise bloodstream levels of statins or red yeast rice compounds.

CoQ10 Supplementation Advised

Both statins and to a lesser degree red yeast rice may have a side effect of lowering CoQ10 production in the body. CoQ10 production declines with age, but this decline may be more severe due to statins and red yeast rice interfering in the natural biochemical processes necessary both for the production of cholesterol and CoQ10 in the body. Therefore you may also want to supplement with CoQ10 or idebenone, a synthetic variant of CoQ10 that has some advantages both in price and in lower production of damaging free radicals if oxygen levels in the body fall significantly, such as during heavy exercise, heart attack, or stroke.

Necessity of CoQ10 for ATP Production

For mitochondria to do their jobs, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is necessary to produce ATP. Yet some medicines such as statins and dietary supplements such as red yeast rice (both are used for reducing cholesterol levels) deplete stores of CoQ10. Statins have been found to lower blood serum levels of CoQ10 by up to 40%. This can result in a variety of side effects such as muscle weakness, fatigue, and confusion. As a result, CoQ10 (typically as ubiquinone or ubiquinol) supplements have been increasingly recommended for people taking those medicines and supplements. They are also often recommended for people in their 30s and older and CoQ10 levels fall with age.

About 95% of the energy used in the human body is produced in processes involving CoQ10 and mitochondria. The organs with the highest energy requirements, for instance the heart and liver, tend to have the highest number of mitochondria (up to around 2500 per cell) and highest CoQ10 concentrations. These also tend to be organs that often suffer from disease.

If you’re taking red yeast rice or especially statins, both CoQ10 and idebenone are suggested to keep your body’s mitochondria running well. The newer ubiquinol form of CoQ10 is generally thought to be better absorbed than the less expensive ubiquinone form, achieving higher blood serum concentrations of CoQ10 at lower dosages.

Possible Product Combination for Costco Shoppers

Costco also sells several CoQ10 formulations and a milk thistle product, so if you’re a Costco fan like so many people are, you can get all of these products from the same source. However, we’ve noticed that in the local Costco stores lately only the red yeast rice product has been available, meaning that you may have to order the other products through Costco’s website.

Weider® Red Yeast Rice 600mg, 180 tablets

TruNature® Milk Thistle 200 mg, 300 softgels

Qunol™ Ultra CoQ10 100 mg, 60 softgels

Of course these supplements are also available from many other sources, too.

Further Reading

Statin Side Effects, Risks, and Alternatives

University of Maryland Medical Center: Red Yeast Rice

Wikipedia: Red Yeast Rice

Statin alternatives or just placebo: an objective review of omega-3, red yeast rice and garlic in cardiovascular therapeutics.

Effect of Xuezhikang, an extract from red yeast Chinese rice, on coronary events in a Chinese population with previous myocardial infarction.

University of Maryland Medical Center: Milk Thistle

Wikipedia: Silymarin / Silibinin

Idebenone, a Better CoQ10

University of Maryland Medical Center: Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

University of Maryland Medical Center: Milk Thistle

Clinical Trial Shows Ubiquinol Has Significant Effect On Patients With Congestive Heart Failure

Wikipedia: Ubiquinone

Wikipedia: Ubiquinol


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned in this post are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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