It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
Do you have any advice for a supplement for lowering cholesterol without liver damage? I heard that CoQ10 with red yeast rice does damage to the liver. Is there an effective, safer supplement?
There is some evidence that red rice yeast does lower cholesterol. It is not clear if this effect helps prevent heart attack as well as eating a healthy diet or some pharmaceutical medications on the market. It appears to be fairly safe. Here's a great overview on the Mayo Clinic web site.
There's not as much evidence of CoQ10 being all that helpful. Small studies have shown promise, but this is the problem with so many vitamins, minerals, and other supplements. Almost every time they are subjected to well designed, large, long term human trials they fail to do much of anything.
Certainly you can get as much improvement in your cholesterol scores from making a substantial effort toward changing your diet. There's a lot of evidence that working at weight control and following a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet can be as powerful as taking cholesterol lowering medication. Here's more information about a Mediterranean style diet.
Timothy S. Harlan MD, FACP