Statin medications are often prescribed for lowering cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, they’re also prone to interacting with supplements and even some types of food. Here are six foods and supplements to avoid if you’re taking a statin.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an elevated cholesterol level and it hasn’t responded to diet, there’s a good chance your doctor has prescribed a statin medication for you at some point. Statins are one of the most effective treatments for elevated cholesterol, although some people have difficult tolerating them due to their side effects which can include muscle aches and liver inflammation. Statins can also be tricky medications to take because they can interact with other prescription medications and even some common diet, nutritional, and herbal supplements. Here are some important interactions you need to be aware of if you’re taking statin medications.
Vitamin A interacts with statins.
Taking vitamin A in supplement form isn’t a good idea if you’re taking a statin medication. One study showed that people who took vitamin A supplements while taking statins experienced a rise in their vitamin A levels. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin which isn’t easily eliminated by the body – so it’s best to lay off of vitamin A supplements while taking statins.
Some fruit juices interact with statins.
Both grapefruit juice and pomegranate juice alter the levels of liver enzymes which break down statin medications – leading to higher statin levels and a greater risk of side effects. It’s best to avoid both of these fruits and their juices if you’re taking statin medications.
St. John’s wort interacts with statins.
St. John’s wort – an herbal supplement sometimes used for depression – has the opposite effect on the liver enzymes that break down medications. It activates them – which can cause a reduction in statin levels. This can cause the medication to not work as well as it should.
Antacids interact with statins.
Common over-the-counter antacids taken for indigestion and heartburn can decrease absorption of statin medications – reducing their effectiveness. If you use antiacids, don’t take them within two hours of taking your daily dose of statin.
Niacin interacts with statins.
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is sometimes used in supplemental form to lower cholesterol levels. Although combining a statin medication with niacin can further lower cholesterol levels, the combination of the two may increase the risk of serious statin side effects such as muscle and liver inflammation. Talk to your doctor before taking niacin with statins and don’t do it unless you’re under medical supervision.
Red yeast rice interacts with statins.
Red yeast rice is a supplement sold at many health food stores as a natural way to lower cholesterol levels. This supplement does appear to work – partially because it contains small amounts of natural statins. Combining a prescription statin medication with red yeast rice may elevate overall statin levels and increase the risk of side effects.
The bottom line? Talk to your doctor before using any of these six supplements if you’re being treated with a statin medication for high cholesterol levels and always let your doctor know if you experience muscle pain or weakness while taking cholesterol medication.