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If you've landed on this page, chances are you already know the benefits of curcumin and want to know how much of the good stuff is actually in turmeric.
It's a straightforward question. But one that has a longer answer than you'd imagine because it ultimately depends on the source of turmeric. Depending on whether you're looking at turmeric powder, supplements, or drinks, the amount of curcumin varies greatly.
And if you're planning on using turmeric for its health benefits, you're going to want to know exactly how much curcumin your turmeric contains.
So that's why In this article, we're going to take a closer look at how much curcumin is present in different forms of turmeric.
What is curcumin?
Some people get confused by the difference between turmeric and curcumin.
Curcumin is a biologically active compound found in turmeric that has been shown in studies to have various health benefits.
It belongs to a group of compounds known as polyphenols which are found in many fruits and herbs. Curcumin is a well-researched polyphenol that is found in turmeric root and has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
But only a fraction of turmeric is made up of curcumin. And that's why you may want to know how much curcumin is in your turmeric.
Next up, we'll take a closer look at different forms of turmeric to see how much curcumin each one contains.
How much curcumin is there in turmeric powder
Studies have shown that the amount of curcumin in the golden orange-colored powder that we are all familiar with ranges from 1-6%.
In fact, a group of researchers tested the curcumin content in 28 curry powders and found, on average, 3.16% curcumin.(1)
So curcumin only makes up a very small proportion of turmeric.
It all depends on where the turmeric has been grown and in what conditions. And that's why it'll be very difficult to know the quality of your turmeric powder without doing testing. That is clearly not realistic.
Which turmeric has the highest curcumin
The next thing you may be wondering is which turmeric has the highest curcumin. Well, it's thought to be turmeric that comes from a northeastern area of India called Lakadong.
It's said that the turmeric here contains up to 7% curcumin which is certainly in the higher range.
And it's more than likely that the unique climate and soil quality have a part to play.
Does all turmeric contain curcumin?
The short answer is yes. All turmeric will contain at least some curcumin. But as mentioned earlier, the percentage can vary greatly.
Turmeric from the Indian subcontinent is known to have a particularly high amount of curcumin.
But the max is really around 7%. And on average around the world, it's around 3%.
Is Curcumin only found in turmeric?
Turmeric as we know it comes from the root of a plant called Curcuma longa.
Curcumin is often thought of as a compound found exclusively found in turmeric. But in fact, this isn't true.
Curcumin is actually found in several of the "Curcuma" species of plant.
With that said, curcumin is found in much lower quantities in the other varieties of the Curcuma family of plants and turmeric is known to have the highest of them all.
How much curcumin is there in supplements?
So far we've gone over how much curcumin there is in turmeric powder. But what about the turmeric content in supplements?
This bit gets even more complicated so bear with us as we try to explain.
The best turmeric supplements use standardized turmeric. This basically means that the amount of curcumin is concentrated to a much higher level than that found in turmeric powder.
In fact, most good supplements will contain turmeric that's standardized to contain 95% curcumin. A lot higher than the 3% found in turmeric root.
You may be wondering why such a large concentration of curcumin is used. And the main reason is that curcumin is very poorly absorbed from our gut.
Studies have shown that several grams of turmeric powder is required to produce a detectable increase of curcumin in the blood. And this is much higher than any realistic amount you could get from food sources.(2)
In other words, curcumin is not very "bioavailable". And we've gone into more detail about this in our article on the bioavailability of turmeric.
For this reason, supplement manufacturers may use highly concentrated and standardized curcumin so it actually makes a difference.
Anything else to consider?
If you're wondering how much curcumin is in turmeric, you may be looking to take this golden spice for its health benefits.
And if that's the case, knowing about the bioavailability and absorption of curcumin is just as important as how much curcumin is in turmeric.
We've already mentioned standardized and highly concentrated forms of curcumin. But going further still, there are even better-absorbed preparations of curcumin.
Nowadays, you'll find curcumin in liquid curcumin that utilizes micellar / lipid technology to make improve absorption.
The problem is, curcumin is fat-soluble which means it doesn't dissolve well in water. By combining curcumin with fats, studies have shown that absorption can be increased by over 180x compared to turmeric powder alone.(2)
That's a massive difference that could potentially provide an additional benefit to turmeric powder alone.
How much curcumin is in turmeric - Final words
So, that brings us to the end of our look into how much curcumin is found in turmeric.
we've walked you through the basics of curcumin amounts in different forms of turmeric. In summary, turmeric powder contains on average just over 3% curcumin.
On top of this, curcumin is very poorly absorbed from your gut. And studies have shown that only negligible amounts of curcumin are detected from taking turmeric powder because of this.
That's why if you're thinking about taking curcumin for its health benefits, you may want to consider going for a turmeric supplement that has a high concentration of curcumin. In other words, a high standardized formulation.
Furthermore, opting for a formula utilizing micellar or lipid technology could provide an extra absorption boost which will ultimately help get more out of your supplement.