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Last updated: September 3, 2021
Turmeric has long been a popular spice in Indian cuisine, for various reasons. Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric that is thought to have medicinal properties and other benefits.
Are turmeric supplements worth it, or should we instead use natural turmeric root powder in our meals? Let’s have a closer look at some of the best turmeric and curcumin supplements available today.
Best turmeric supplements:
What Is Turmeric and Curcumin?
Turmeric is a spice (some call it a herb) that is part of the ginger family. It comes in two different colors: white and yellow turmeric. There is in fact a black turmeric as well, but that type is not as well-known.
When people refer to turmeric, they mostly mean the yellow version as this is the most common type of turmeric. White turmeric is also quite rare and is typically replaced by ginger.
Native to India and often referred to as “Indian saffron”, yellow turmeric has a brown/yellow skin and orange/yellow flesh. It smells like a mix of ginger and orange, with a peppery and bitter flavor.
Turmeric is mostly known in powder form, created by boiling, drying, and grinding the root. Apart from the important role it has played in Indian cuisine, turmeric is also thought to have medicinal properties.
The yellow color is caused by the high concentration of curcumin, the most beneficial compound in turmeric. Curcumin has been used as a traditional herbal medicine for many centuries, particularly in India and China.
The positive effects of turmeric and curcumin on our health have made this spice more popular in western medicine as well. Turmeric and curcumin supplements are on the rise as more people learn more about the potential benefits they can offer.
There have also been results of studies suggesting that curcumin can be effective in treating depression symptoms as it helps to increase serotonin and dopamine levels (known as “feel good” neurotransmitters) in the brain. Curcumin also helps with faster muscle recovery and decreases joint pain.
Turmeric contains around 3-5% curcumin. So to make the most of this healthy compound, you would need to consume quite a lot of turmeric. This is why people often prefer to use curcumin supplements.
Turmeric and Curcumin Supplements Unraveled
Looking at turmeric supplements and comparing them can be a bit of a challenge and it’s hard to make sense out of it all. So let’s go through some of the common terminology and claims used with these supplements.
Standardized to 95% Curcuminoids
This is the fun part of turmeric supplements. Curcuminoids are active compounds in turmeric that include curcumin but also demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin (such complicated words!).
It’s easy to think that curcuminoids and curcumin are the same, but they are definitely not. It is true though that curcumin is the primary component of curcuminoids, around 75%.
Most turmeric supplements claim to have turmeric extract “standardized to 95% curcuminoids“. Unless otherwise stated, this means that around 75% of this 95% is actually curcumin, the compound we usually buy turmeric supplements for.
More importantly, this turmeric extract component (with curcumin), typically only forms 10% of the supplement capsule. The other 90% is turmeric root (powder).
Therefore, when the packaging says “with 95% curcuminoids”, this doesn’t actually mean that the capsules are 95% curcuminoids. Technically, The label isn’t incorrect, it’s just a bit confusing, or perhaps even misleading.
Black Pepper Extract and Bioperine
There is another issue with curcumin that many people aren’t aware of. Curcumin has a very low bio-availability, meaning it doesn’t get very well absorbed and leaves the body before it can actually do something with it.
This essentially means that, no matter how beneficial the compound may be, the human body isn’t able to do much good with it.
The solution for this is black pepper. Black pepper extract (also known as piperine) has been found to be very effective in absorbing curcumin. This extract is a manufactured product called Bioperine, which is in fact a registered trademark.
Supplement manufacturers are therefore adding a tiny little bit of Bioperine to make the supplement much more useful. Bioperine is typically standardized to a minimum of 95% piperine.
Bioperine is not only used in turmeric supplements. It has been successfully used for more than two decades to enhance the bio-availability of many other compounds and nutrients through increased absorption.
Why Should You Consider Taking Turmeric Supplements?
In a typical western diet, turmeric is not a very common spice. So most people in the western world are missing out on the health benefits of turmeric and its key compound curcumin.
Sure, we could all start eating more Indian food or find other ways to add turmeric to our diets. Or as an alternative, we could consider taking turmeric and curcumin supplements.
I’m normally quite hesitant when it comes to supplements as I believe that maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is always the best option. But I do believe turmeric supplements can add great value since a lot of people don’t include it in their regular diet.
So let’s have a look at some of the best turmeric and curcumin supplements available. The below products are selected based on brand reputation, reviews, pricing, ingredients, and more.
While these products can’t do any harm, it’s recommended to always consult a medical professional, nutritionist or dietician for professional advice on your personal diet.
Top 5 Turmeric Supplements
Here is my top 5 best turmeric supplements with curcumin as the key component.
1. NatureWise Curcumin Capsules
This little NatureWise curcumin bottle contains 180 vegetarian capsules that each contain 1500mg of organic curcumin complex with turmeric root and curcumin extract standardized to 95% curcuminoids. The label does not state how much of the 1500mg is curcumin extract and how much is turmeric root.
As with all supplements listed, NatureWise contains Bioperine black pepper extract to enhance the absorption of curcumin. Each capsule also contains 140mg organic ginger root for extra antioxidant properties and it also improves absorption. So each tablet is 1650mg consisting of 1500mg curcumin and turmeric, 140mg organic ginger and 10mg black pepper extract.
It’s worth mentioning that NatureWise packages their products using recycled materials and renewable energy, and they obtain their ingredients from sustainable and certified organic sources whenever possible. They are also a generous donor and supporter of PINA, the Permaculture Institute of North America. This particular product is made in the USA and is third party tested.
2. Schwartz Bioresearch Turmeric Curcumin Capsules
The turmeric supplement produced by Schwartz Bioresearch is a 100% natural, non-GMO product without any fillers, binders or preservatives. It is also free of gluten, soy, milk, egg, wheat and peanuts.
The bottle contains 90 vegetarian capsules, each containing 1350mg turmeric root, 150mg turmeric extract and 10mg black pepper extract (Bioperine). Schwartz Bioresearch recommends taking three capsules per day, meaning one bottle would last one month.
In my personal opinion, two capsules per day is more than enough, eventually bringing it down to only one capsule per day. The 150mg turmeric extract with 95% standardized curcuminoids is pretty generous compared to many other supplements. This Schwartz turmeric curcumin supplement is made in the USA and is third party tested.
3. Naturo Sciences Organic Turmeric Capsules with Ginger
Nature Sciences packs 120 capsules in their organic turmeric curcumin supplement product, with each capsule containing 600mg of turmeric root, 50mg turmeric root extract (curcumin) and a tiny portion of black pepper extract. Just like NatureWise, this product also adds ginger extract (75mg) for extra antioxidant support.
All ingredients used in Naturo Sciences supplements are non-GMO and gluten free. Manufactured in the USA, this turmeric supplement product is certified with the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) stamp.
4. Doctor Recommended Turmeric Curcumin Capsules
This turmeric supplement by Doctor Recommended provides 180 veggie capsules, each with a 750mg blend of turmeric root and turmeric extract with curcumin. Similar to the NatureWise product, the label does not clearly specify how much of this blend is turmeric root and how much is curcumin extract.
Doctor Recommended is a US based nutrition company that produces their supplements in FDA registered, GMP certified facilities.
5. NutriFlair Premium Turmeric Capsules
Based in the US, NutriFlair is a supplement store with an extensive range of different products and a large customer base. This turmeric curcumin supplement contains 120 veggie capsules, each with 1200mg turmeric root, 100mg turmeric extract and 10mg black pepper extract. It’s a pretty standard composition in the market of curcumin supplements.
NutriFlair claims to only use natural, non-GMO ingredients for their supplements, without any additives or preservatives. NutriFlair also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, with a full refund in case of any dissatisfaction.
Turmeric curcumin supplements are definitely worth it as they add something extra to our (western) diet that typically lacks spices like turmeric. Herbs and spices offer unique benefits and it’s a pity that western cuisine doesn’t make enough use of them.
When choosing the best turmeric supplement, make sure you go with a reputable brand. Always read the label and have a good look at the ingredients to see how much of each active ingredient is used. It’s also good to know where the supplement has been manufactured and under what conditions.