Women are typically advised to avoid red yeast rice supplements when breastfeeding. These products may contain lovastatin, a prescription "statin" cholesterol medication, which can cause serious problems if used when breastfeeding. Red yeast rice can also be found in some food and does not always contain lovastatin. However, in almost all situations, red yeast rice is not recommended for use when breastfeeding.
Some red yeast rice supplements contain lovastatin (Mevacor®), a prescription "statin" cholesterol medication. Lovastatin is not physically added to these supplements; instead, it is produced naturally when the red yeast rice is fermented. Not all red yeast rice products contain lovastatin. In fact, most red yeast rice that is used in food contains little or no lovastatin. Red yeast rice is produced from the fermentation of rice using a certain type of yeast. If the fermentation conditions are carefully controlled and specific strains of yeast are used, the result can be made to contain high levels of lovastatin.
Lovastatin is not recommended for use in breastfeeding women. Although it is not known if lovastatin passes through breast milk in humans, it does pass through breast milk in rats. If the medication does indeed pass through breast milk in humans, it could cause serious problems. Because red yeast rice supplements often contain lovastatin, they should not be used during breastfeeding.
Talking With Your Healthcare Provider About Red Yeast Rice and Breastfeeding
You should talk with your healthcare provider about red yeast rice and breastfeeding. Each woman's situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation, the two of you can make a shared decision about red yeast rice and breastfeeding that is right for you. In almost all situations, red yeast rice supplements are not recommended for women who are breastfeeding.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed January 21, 2008.
Mevacor [package insert]. White House Station, NJ: Merck & Co., Inc.;2007 December.
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