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    Top 5 Problem Dietary Supplements

    When natural doesn't always mean safe, and reading labels doesn't necessarily protect consumers.


    Red yeast rice pills

    Red Yeast Rice

    This traditional Chinese culinary and medicinal product is marketed in the U.S. to lower cholesterol and related lipids. A 2017 study of red yeast rice products revealed a wide range of monacolin K, a compound that is chemically identical to the active ingredient in lovastatin. Products containing higher levels could lower cholesterol levels and cause the same types of side effects and drug interactions as lovastatin. Researchers found that other products had little to no monacolin K. In all cases, no information about the amount of monacolin K was listed on the product labels.

    The FDA maintains that red yeast rice products containing more than trace amounts of monacolin K are unapproved new drugs and cannot be sold legally as 
dietary supplements.

    Side effects related to red yeast rice include myopathy, rhabdomyolysis, and liver toxicity. Some products have been found to be contaminated during processing with citrinin, a mycotoxin that has caused kidney failure in experimental animals and genetic damage in human cells.

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