- What are turmeric and curcumin? Turmeric is a spice used for its flavor and orange-yellow color. Curcumin is one of several curcuminoid compounds found in turmeric that give turmeric its color and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making turmeric root powders and extracts useful as dietary supplements (see What It Is).
- What are the health benefits of turmeric? Small clinical studies suggest that curcumin from turmeric is helpful for indigestion, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, seasonal allergies and depression. Other compounds may also be active (see What It Does).
- How much turmeric to take? The typical daily dose ranges from 500 mg to 2,000 mg of curcuminoids (most of which is curcumin) from turmeric extracts (see Dosage), which can often be as much as 95% curcuminoids. Turmeric powder in some supplements is similar to turmeric spice, which is only about 3% curcuminoids, i.e., one teaspoon of turmeric powder (about 5,000 mg) provides only about 150 mg of curcuminoids.
- How do forms of turmeric differ? Turmeric and curcumin are not well absorbed on their own and it's generally best to take turmeric/curcumin with food containing some fat in order to increase absorption. See Absorption and Bioavailability to learn about bioavailability enhancement with ingredients such as BCM-95, C3 (which includes the black pepper extract Bioperine), CurcuWin, Longvida, Meriva, NovaSol, and Theracurmin.
- What did CL's tests of turmeric find? As shown in the Results Table below, one supplement was found to contain just 82.7% of the curcuminoids expected by CL. Another supplement from a major brand provided just 10 mg of curcuminoids, far less than other brands, which often contained 100 mg or more.
- Best turmeric/curcumin supplement? Among supplements that passed testing, we identified our Top Pick for Supplements -- which provided curcumin at one of the lowest costs and includes a bioavailability enhancer to boost the amount of curcuminoids making it into your bloodstream (see Absorption and Bioavailability to learn about bioavailability enhancement with BCM-95, C3 -- which includes the black pepper extract Bioperine, CurcuWin, Longvida, Meriva, NovaSol, and Theracurmin. It's generally best to take turmeric/curcumin with food containing some fat in order to increase absorption. A Top Pick for Dogs was also selected.
- Best turmeric spice? We also purchased popular brands of turmeric spice, testing them for curcuminoid content, heavy metals (lead, cadmium and arsenic) and filth (e.g., insect fragments and mites). One product stood out for providing significantly more curcuminoids than other products -- as well as being less expensive and containing less filth -- and was chosen as our Top Pick for Spices. To get the most from turmeric spice, use it in a meal that contains fats or oils, as well as some black pepper.
- Turmeric/curcumin safety and side effects: Turmeric/curcumin supplements are generally safe, but gastrointestinal side effects may occur with higher doses and they can cause problems for people with gallbladder disease, kidney stones, or those taking blood-thinning or blood-sugar-lowering medications. Rarely, liver injury has been reported. One of the bioavailability enhancers commonly added can potentially affect a number of drugs (see Concerns and Cautions).