If you’re interested in taking supplements to improve your health, then chances are you may have come across turmeric. Turmeric is a vibrant yellow spice that has been used for thousands of years both as a cooking ingredient and in traditional medicinal practices. Recently, it has been gaining popularity as a natural supplement with a range of potential health benefits.
But what makes turmeric so healthy? And how do you know which turmeric supplement is right for you? In this ultimate buyer’s guide, we will take a closer look at everything you need to know about turmeric supplements.
What exactly is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a perennial plant from the ginger family that is native to India and Southeast Asia. It is commonly used as a spice in Indian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which gives the root its golden yellow color. Many health benefits of turmeric are attributed to the curcumin content.
For centuries, turmeric has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of ailments. In recent years, scientific research has provided evidence to support many of the health claims associated with turmeric.
In addition to its health benefits, turmeric is also used in beauty products. The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin make it an effective ingredient in skincare products for reducing redness and inflammation. Turmeric is also used in hair care products to promote healthy hair growth and prevent dandruff.
When cooking with turmeric, it is important to note that the active ingredient, curcumin, is not very bioavailable on its own. To increase the absorption of curcumin, it is often recommended to consume turmeric with black pepper extract or other natural compounds that enhance the bioavailability of curcumin. But ideally, you would want to opt for a specialized supplement that guarantees high doses with high bioavailability.
Finally, turmeric is also used in religious and cultural ceremonies in many parts of Southeast Asia. In Hinduism, turmeric is considered a sacred spice and is used in various rituals and ceremonies.
Overall, turmeric is a versatile and beneficial plant that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and cuisine. With its numerous health benefits and uses in beauty products, it is no wonder that turmeric has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Is turmeric healthy?
While we can’t promise that everyone will feel substantial positive health effects from consuming turmeric, current scientific consensus says that turmeric is indeed very healthy for most humans.
To name just a few of these benefits (don’t worry, we’ll get more into that later), studies have shown that curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help to prevent a variety of chronic diseases. In fact, chronic inflammation can lead to various health problems, including joint and bone problems, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric has also been shown to improve brain function, helping to improve memory and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Some studies have also suggested that turmeric may help prevent certain types of cancer, or at the very least be an effective medicine for patients undergoing conventional cancer treatments.
Another benefit of turmeric is its potential to improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
What is the difference between turmeric and curcumin?
Curcumin and turmeric are two closely related terms that are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences between the two. Turmeric refers to the spice that is commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Curcumin, on the other hand, is a specific compound that is found in turmeric. It is a bright yellow pigment that gives turmeric its distinctive color. And this compound is also the one containing all the health benefits commonly associated with turmeric.
While turmeric contains only about 3% curcumin, many supplements are made from curcumin extract to increase potency. These supplements are often marketed as natural remedies for a variety of health conditions, including arthritis, depression, and cancer.
Therefore, if you’re looking to consume turmeric for health benefits, then you should actually be looking for concentrated curcumin supplements as the turmeric root alone contains only small amounts of the healthy curcumin and is also not absorbed well by the human body.
Does turmeric or curcumin have any side effects?
When taken in recommended dosages, turmeric and curcumin are generally safe and well-tolerated. However, high doses of turmeric or curcumin can (albeit quite rarely) cause gastrointestinal side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, and stomach upset. Turmeric and curcumin are also not recommended for people taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
If you have any doubts about whether you should be using curcumin supplements don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted medical professional or GP in your area and ask him about whether turmeric supplementation is right for you.
What are the key health benefits of turmeric?
As already mentioned, the key health benefits of turmeric are numerous and varied. The potential health benefits of turmeric are still being studied, but scientists have already made a myriad of highly promising discoveries and achieved consensus about specific benefits.
In this section, we want to look at a few respected studies that provide valuable insights into curcumin’s greatest health benefits. We aimed to rely on meta-studies wherever possible since these analyze the results of multiple (often dozens) peer-reviewed papers, studies, and clinical trials. As such, meta-studies are widely considered the most trustworthy research available.
1. Reduced inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can contribute to a variety of health problems, including arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Many studies have demonstrated that curcumin can help reduce inflammation in the body. For example, a study conducted in 2021 concluded that “curcumin has good anti-inflammatory properties” and can “reduce inflammatory response, effectively improve symptoms, [and] play a role in the treatment of diseases.”
2. Improved brain function and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Curcumin has also been shown to have neuroprotective properties, meaning it can help protect the brain from damage and improve cognitive function. A 2019 meta-study identified “beneficial effects of curcumin on cognition and non-pathological aging” and also praised curcumin’s “potential capability of preventing cognitive decline.” Furthermore, a number of researchers have even suggested that curcumin can be a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Reduced risk of heart disease and improved heart health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, but some studies have suggested that curcumin may help reduce the risk of heart disease. For example, a recent study from 2022 concluded that curcumin is “effective against cardiovascular diseases and has shown a promising impact on cardiovascular diseases in clinical studies.”
Additionally, Curcumin has been shown to improve the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. This can help improve blood flow and reduce the risk of heart disease.
4. Potential anti-cancer properties
Contemporary research also suggests that curcumin may have anti-cancer properties. Specifically, curcumin has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and may also help prevent the formation of new blood vessels in tumors.
A meta-analysis of various clinical trials summarized that “curcumin inhibits the carcinogenesis and their growth” and that “taking curcumin would increase the expression of anti-metastatic proteins.” Perhaps most impressively, the researchers also concluded that curcumin consumption in cancer patients “increased patient survival and decreased tumor marker concentration.”
5. Improved digestion
Turmeric has long been used in traditional medicine to help improve digestion. A 2021 study (and many more) have confirmed that ancient medical practitioners were right about turmeric’s benefits for digestion, and now also suggested that curcumin can “alleviate digestive symptoms in adults with irritable bowel syndrome” and ulcerative colitis.
6. Reduced risk of depression
Depression is always a difficult subject due to the large number of causes and cases in today’s fast-paced world. Fortunately, turmeric might be able to help here as well. A big meta-study from 2022 concluded that “there is an increasing body of research supporting the efficacy of curcumin as a treatment for depression” thanks to increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a protein that helps promote the growth and survival of neurons in the brain.
7. Improved skin health
Turmeric has also been used for centuries in traditional medicine to help improve skin health. And now scientists have found out why. A 2016 meta-analysis reviewing 234 scientific articles and a total of 18 medical studies found that curcumin can help treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne, alopecia, atopic dermatitis, facial photoaging, oral lichen planus, pruritus, psoriasis, radiodermatitis, and vitiligo. Moreover, of the 18 reviewed studies, 10 noted a “statistically significant improvement in skin disease severity […] compared with control groups.”
8. Reduced risk of diabetes
Last but not least, there are also studies suggesting that curcumin may help reduce the risk of diabetes. Specifically, another meta-study analyzing curcumin’s potential for treating and preventing diabetes asserted that “curcumin could favorably affect most of the leading aspects of diabetes, including insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and islet apoptosis and necrosis.” Additionally, the researchers argued that “curcumin could prevent the deleterious complications of diabetes.”
As you can see, there is a great pool of scientific research backing up what ancient medical practitioners have known for centuries. While some pieces of the puzzle are still missing, the available scientific evidence strongly suggests that turmeric is relevant to treating many different conditions and diseases.
What types of curcumin supplements are there?
Curcumin can be consumed in a variety of forms, and so it’s no surprise that there are several types of curcumin supplements available on the market today. The most popular of them all seems to be capsules thanks to their convenience for daily use. Capsules typically contain a standardized amount of curcumin, which makes it easy to track your daily intake.
Another form of curcumin supplement is powders, which can be mixed into food or drinks. This is a great option for those who dislike pills or want to incorporate curcumin into their cooking. Powders can be added to smoothies, soups, or even baked goods for an extra boost of health benefits.
Liquids are another option for those who try to avoid capsules. Liquid curcumin supplements can be added to water or juice for a quick and easy dose of curcumin. Some liquid supplements are also formulated with other beneficial ingredients, such as ginger or black pepper extract, to enhance absorption.
Finally, there are even curcumin gummy bears for those who want to enjoy their medicine in style. Gummies might be especially appealing to younger consumers, as children often struggle with swallowing capsules and don’t particularly enjoy the bitter taste of curcumin powder.
It’s crucial to note that not all curcumin supplements are created equal. Some supplements are formulated for greater absorption, such as curcumin with black pepper extract, which can enhance the bioavailability of curcumin. Others may contain additional ingredients, such as turmeric oil or phospholipids, which can also improve absorption. That’s what we’re going to look at next.
Some of the most efficient curcumin types and mixes:
1. Standard curcumin supplements
These supplements contain a concentrated dose of curcumin, typically in the form of a powder or capsule. They are often the most affordable option but may not be as effective as other forms due to curcumin’s poor bioavailability.
2. Curcumin with added black pepper extract (piperine)
Piperine is a compound found in black pepper that can enhance the absorption of curcumin in the body. Supplements that combine curcumin with piperine may be more effective than standard curcumin supplements, but they can also be more expensive.
3. Curcumin with essential oils
Combining curcumin with essential oils also improves absorption and bioavailability. For example, BCM-95 is a popular formulation that combines curcumin with essential oils extracted from turmeric. These essential oils, such as ar-turmerone, help improve curcumin’s solubility and stability. Additionally, essential oils also contribute their own medicinal properties, resulting in a synergistic effect for potential health benefits.
4. Liposomal curcumin
Liposomal curcumin works by encapsulating curcumin molecules within phospholipid-based liposomes. These liposomes act as protective carriers, shielding curcumin from degradation in the digestive system. The liposomes enhance curcumin’s absorption by facilitating its passage through cell membranes. This improved absorption (which according to some studies is up to 10 times higher) allows curcumin to reach target cells more effectively, increasing its bioavailability and potential therapeutic benefits.
5. Curcumin phytosome
Curcumin phytosome involves binding curcumin particles with phospholipids, creating a complex structure. This complex helps protect curcumin during digestion and increases its solubility, leading to improved absorption in the body. The phospholipids in curcumin phytosome assist in the transportation of curcumin across cell membranes.
Finally, as one of the latest technological revolutions in the curcumin industry, nano-curcumin leverages nanotechnology to, you may have guessed it, boost the delivery and effectiveness of curcumin. In this process, curcumin particles are reduced to nanoscale size of typically less than 100 nanometers.
The reduction in particle size increases the surface area, allowing these tiny particles to easily pass through cell membranes. As a result, nanoparticles of curcumin can reach target tissues more effectively and thus achieve a significantly enhanced absorption and cellular uptake of 42 times or more.
This of course also widens curcumin’s therapeutic potential, as it can interact with cellular targets and exert its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other health-promoting effects. As of today, nano-curcumin is generally seen as the most bio-available and effective curcumin form on the market.
How much curcumin should I consume per day?
By now you’re probably thinking that curcumin is a god-send supplement and just wondering how much of it you should actually take. Well, the recommended daily dose of curcumin varies depending on the individual and the reason for taking it, but generally ranges from 500-2000 mg per day.
However: the type and potency of the supplement of your choice are critical for determining the right dose. For example, while standard curcumin powder gets not particularly well absorbed, nano-curcumin is absorbed more than 40 times better.
Therefore, the right dosage mainly depends on whether you’re using standard curcumin or a more advanced supplement. Finally, curcumin dosages may also vary depending on the illnesses and conditions you aim to treat.
We highly suggest consulting a medical specialist familiar with your situation to answer this question. At the very least, you should do some basic research on the type of curcumin supplement that you’re using and of course, also consider the manufacturer’s recommendation.
What are the best curcumin supplements in the US?
With dozens, perhaps even hundreds of different curcumin supplements for sale in the US, many consumers may feel overwhelmed and confused when choosing the right product for them. To narrow the list, we’d like to provide our top 3 recommendations for the best turmeric supplements available in the US right now.
1. NanoCumin: Nano-Curcumin Capsules
NanoCumin is a supplement based on Theracurmin, which is the market-leading nano-curcumin product in the world. Consequently, NanoCumin provides more than 42.6 times higher bioavailability for its curcumin, ensuring maximum absorption and effectiveness in the human body. Nanocumin’s curcumin capsules can be ordered from anywhere in the US with free shipping on the company’s website.
2. Qunol: Extra Strength Curcumin Gummies
Qunol’s turmeric gummies can be considered the best non-capsule curcumin supplement available in the USA. These delicious gummies contain a whopping 500mg of Qunol turmeric, which is also based on a formula of nano-curcumin. As such, Qunol’s turmeric gummies are the best option for those who don’t like to swallow capsules.
3. Nature Made: Extra Strength Turmeric With Piperine
If you prefer trying a more traditional yet still effective curcumin supplement, then you might want to consider Nature Made’s Extra Strength Turmeric. These curcumin capsules come with additional bioavailability from a black pepper infusion, aka piperine. While it may not reach the same bioavailability as the previous two options, it is still a solid supplement and is made in the USA with globally sourced, high-quality ingredients.
Turmeric can have a myriad of health benefits, and curcumin supplements are the most efficient way to boost your daily intake of this powerful antioxidant. When choosing a curcumin supplement, look for a reputable brand that uses quality ingredients and third-party testing to ensure product purity and potency.