Dos & Don'ts
- Support your medication’s effectiveness with omega-3s 900 to 1,800 mg each day of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA, found in fish oil, may improve pravastatin’s cholesterol- and triglyceride-lowering effect
- Keep up your CoQ10 levels 30 to 100 mg of coenzyme Q10 per day may prevent this heart-healthy nutrient from being depleted by your medication, and it may reduce the likelihood of a potential side effect.
- Try cholesterol-lowering margarine Using margarines containing sitostanol (Benecol), which is made from naturally occurring unsaturated sterols from soybean oil (Take Control), can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
- Disrupt your medicine with grapefruit Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice (and potentially pomegranate) as they may inhibit the body’s ability to break down pravastatin, making it more toxic.
- Take red yeast rice with statins Although red yeast rice (Monascus purpureas) extract has been shown to lower moderately high cholesterol and triglycerides, it contains small amounts of natural HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors and should not be used with statin medications.
Summary of Interactions with Vitamins, Herbs, & Foods
|May Be Beneficial: Depletion or interference—This medication may deplete these substances from the body or interfere with how they work; extra intake may help replenish them.||
|May Be Beneficial: Side effect reduction and/or prevention—These substances may help reduce the likelihood and/or severity of a potential side effect caused by the medication.||
|May Be Beneficial: Supportive interaction—These substances may help this medication work better.||
|Avoid: Reduces drug effectiveness—When taking this medication, avoid these substances as they may decrease the medication's absorption and/or activity in the body.||
St. John’s Wort*
|Avoid: Adverse interaction—When taking this medication, avoid these substances, as the combination may cause undesirable or dangerous interactions.||
Red Yeast Rice*
|Check: Explanation needed—When taking this medication, read the article details and discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist before taking these substances.||
Interactions with Vitamins
In double-blind trials, treatment with pravastatin and other HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors has resulted in depleted blood levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).1 , 2 Supplementation with 90–100 mg CoQ10 per day has been shown to prevent reductions in blood levels of CoQ10 due to simvastatin, another drug in the same category as pravastatin.3 , 4 In a preliminary study, supplementation with 100 mg of CoQ10 per day reduced the severity of muscle pain by 40% in people with muscle pain caused by a statin drug.5
The omega-3 fatty acid EPA present in fish oil may improve the cholesterol and triglyceride-lowering effect of pravastatin. In a preliminary trial, people with high cholesterol who had been taking pravastatin for about three years were able to significantly lower their triglyceride levels and raise their levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol by supplementing with either 900 mg or 1,800 mg of EPA for three months in addition to pravastatin.6 The authors of the study concluded that the combination of pravastatin and EPA may prevent coronary heart disease better than pravastatin alone.
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Niacin is a vitamin used to lower cholesterol. Sixteen people with diabetes and high cholesterol were given pravastatin plus niacin to lower cholesterol.7 Niacin was added over a two week period, to a maximum amount of 500 mg three times per day. The combination of pravastatin plus niacin was continued for four weeks. Compared with pravastatin, niacin plus pravastatin resulted in significantly reduced cholesterol levels. Others have also shown that the combination of pravastatin and niacin is more effective in lowering cholesterol levels than is pravastatin alone.8 However, large amounts of niacin taken with pravastatin might cause serious muscle disorders (myopathy or rhabdomyolysis).9 Individuals taking pravastatin should consult a doctor before taking niacin.
A synthetic molecule related to beta-sitosterol, sitostanol, is available in a special margarine and has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. In one study, supplementing with 1.8 grams of sitostanol per day for six weeks enhanced the cholesterol-lowering effect of various statin drugs.10
A study of 37 people with high cholesterol treated with diet and HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors found serum vitamin A levels increased over two years of therapy.11 It remains unclear whether this moderate increase suggests that people taking lovastatin have a particular need to restrict vitamin A supplementation.
Interactions with Herbs
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
One of the possible side effects of pravastatin is liver toxicity. Although no clinical studies substantiate its use with pravastatin, a milk thistle extract standardized to 70–80% silymarin may reduce the potential liver toxicity of pravastatin. The suggested use is 200 mg of the extract three times daily.
Red yeast rice (Monascus purpureas)
A supplement containing red yeast rice (Monascus purpureas) (Cholestin) has been shown to effectively lower cholesterol and triglycerides in people with moderately elevated levels of these blood lipids.12 This extract contains small amounts of naturally occurring HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors such as lovastatin and should not be used by people who are currently taking a statin medication.
Interactions with Foods & Other Compounds
Pravastatin may be taken with or without food.13
While grapefruit juice is known to increase levels of lovastatin14 and some other statin drugs, this interaction does not occur between grapefruit juice and pravastatin.15 It appears, therefore, that people taking pravastatin can safely consume grapefruit or grapefruit juice.
1. Mortensen SA, Leth A, Agner E, Rohde M. Dose-related decrease of serum coenzyme Q10 during treatment with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Mol Aspects Med 1997;18(suppl):S137–44.
2. Ghirlanda G, Oradei A, Manto A, et al. Evidence of plasma CoQ10-lowering effect by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Clin Pharmacol 1993;33:226–9.
3. Bargossi AM, Grossi G, Fiorella PL, et al. Exogenous CoQ10 supplementation prevents plasma ubiquinone reduction induced by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Molec Aspects Med 1994;15(suppl):s187–93.
4. Miyake Y, Shouzu A, Nishikawa M, et al. Effect of treatment with 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors on serum coenzyme Q10 in diabetic patients. Arzneimittelforschung 1999;49:324–9.
5. Caso G, Kelly P, McNurlan MA, Lawson WE. Effect of coenzyme Q10 on myopathic symptoms in patients treated with statins. Am J Cardiol 2007;99:1409–12.
6. Nakamura N, Hamazaki T, Ohta M, et al. Joint effects of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors and eicosapentaenoic acids on serum lipid profile and plasma fatty acid concentrations in patients with hyperlipidemia. Int J Clin Lab Res 1999;29:22–5.
7. Gardner SF, Marx MA, White LM, et al. Combination of low-dose niacin and pravastatin improves the lipid profile in diabetic patients without compromising glycemic control. Ann Pharmacother 1997;31:677–82.
8. O’Keefe JH Jr, Harris WS, Nelson J, Windsor SL. Effects of pravastatin with niacin or magnesium on lipid levels and postprandial lipemia. Am J Cardiol 1995;76:480–4.
9. Garnett WR. Interactions with hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors. Am J Health Syst Pharm 1995;52:1639–45.
10. Goldberg AC, Ostlund RE Jr, Bateman JH, et al. Effect of plant stanol tablets on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol lowering in patients on statin drugs. Am J Cardiol2006;97:376–9.
11. Muggeo M, Zenti MG, Travia D, et al. Serum retinol levels throughout two years of cholesterol-lowering therapy. Metabolism 1995;44:398–403.
12. Heber D, Yip I, Ashley JM, et al. Cholesterol-lowering effects of a proprietary Chinese red-yeast-rice dietary supplement. Am J Clin Nutr1999;69:231–6.
13. Threlkeld DS, ed. Diuretics and Cardiovasculars, Antihyperlipidemic Agents, HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors. In Facts and Comparisons Drug Information. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons, Sep 1998, 172.
14. Kantola T, Kivisto KT, Neuvonen PJ. Grapefruit juice greatly increases serum concentrations of lovastatin and lovastatin acid. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1998;63:397–402.
15. Lilja JJ, Kivisto KT, Neuvonen PJ. Grapefruit juice increases serum concentrations of atorvastatin and has no effect on pravastatin. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1999;66:118–27.
Last Review: 08-17-2011
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