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Choosing which turmeric supplement to buy is hard. There are so many different options. With tons of products to choose from, it can be tricky to know what’s worth investing in.
The active ingredient in turmeric that has potential health benefits is called “curcumin”. And when it comes to choosing a turmeric supplement to buy, it’s these “curcuminoids” that we are looking for.
In this article, we do a deep dive into all the important considerations to make and why it makes your choice of turmeric supplement makes a difference in how well it's likely to work.
Best turmeric supplement - what matters?
Did you know that studies have shown that we only absorb 1-6% of curcumin from our gut?
Did you also know that of the tiny amount of curcumin we absorb, it only remains in our blood for a few hours at best? (1)
This highlights the two main problems associated with turmeric supplementation. It’s very poorly absorbed and it's very quickly cleared from your bloodstream.
That’s why the two most important things to consider when purchasing a turmeric supplement are:
- Bioavailability - how well is the active ingredient (curcumin) absorbed
- Serum retention - how long the active ingredient remains present and active in your bloodstream
And there are so many different preparations available on the market that comparing these metrics can be tricky. And that’s what we aim to simplify in this article.
Furthermore, there are other important considerations such as whether the turmeric supplement is made by a reputable manufacturer and if all ingredients are truly natural or not.
Next up, we’ll explore this in more detail to equip you with all the important information you need to make the right choice for you.
What you should look for in a turmeric supplement
We’ve already mentioned that absorption is one of the two main considerations when deciding which turmeric supplement is best. The issues around absorption is one of the main reasons why the therapeutic benefits of turmeric can’t be studied easily.
So why is this such a problem with turmeric?
Well, the main reason is that curcumin is a polyphenol (antioxidant) that is fat-soluble and doesn’t dissolve in water.
Your body simply can’t absorb much curcumin from turmeric powder.
Nowadays, there are several preparations that enhance absorption by converting curcumin into a more readily absorbable.
And the research suggests that converting curcumin into a water-soluble form by surrounding it in certain types of lipids (micellar technology) massively improves bioavailability and hence absorption. (2)
In fact, studies have shown that these methods of curcumin delivery are hundreds of times more absorbable compared to turmeric powder and even concentrated powder extract.
How long curcumin stays in blood
The other main consideration is how long curcumin remains active in the bloodstream and body. The problem is, curcumin is rapidly metabolized (broken down) by your liver and also reacts with proteins in blood to form an inactive compound.
In fact, studies have shown that curcmin only remains detectable in blood for a few hours with standard turmeric supplements.
So the second most important consideration is finding a preparation of curcumin that is able to remain active in your bloodstream for longer.
Once again, studies have shown that the new liquid micelle technology where curcumin is surrounded by lipids remains detectable in blood for up to 24 hours. This is compared to just 2 hours with turmeric powder supplements.(3)
In summary, not only is curcumin poorly absorbed, but it’s also rapidly metabolized. Therefore, the amount of benefit you might get from this “golden spice” is limited at best. That’s why maximizing the potential benefit by making sure you chose a turmeric supplement that is highly bioavailable and resistant to breakdown are arguably the two most important considerations.
Other things to consider
Aside from the two key factors for deciding which turmeric supplement is best, there are several other considerations to be aware of.
1) Bioavailability enhancers - Bioperine or Astragin
Nowadays, you'll see that most powder supplements will combine BioPerine® (active ingredient being piperine from black pepper extract) or AstraGin® to boost bioavailability.
They have been shown in studies to greatly increase the absorption of curcumin and other nutrients from our intestines which is great news. For example, BioPerine® reports an increase in absorption by 20x.(4)
Liquid forms of curcumin that utilize micellar technology increase absorption by 185x without the need for any added bioavailability enhancers.(5)
2) Potency - standardized vs root powder
If you check supplement labels closely, you'll see that some brands use standardized ingredients. This means that the amount of active ingredient curcumin is what you'll get.
Compared to raw root powder, the amount of active ingredients will be completely random and unknown. It'll be impossible to know whether the root powder has a decent amount of curcumin or not.
That's why it's so important to check the label closely and opt for a standardized turmeric supplement.
3) Patented turmeric formulations
There are several innovative companies that make it their mission to bring out turmeric preparations that are highly bioavailable and longer acting.
They go a step further than just mixing a standardized extract with black pepper extract to enhance absorption.
For example, we use a patented liquid formulation utilizing micellar technology. But to be frank, there are at least half a dozen other top-quality formulations on the market.
When it comes to finding the best turmeric supplement, every little bit of extra absorption helps. So opt for a premium product and get yourself a science-backed formula.
4) Company reputation
Supplements do not need to prove their safety or effectiveness to a regulatory body such as the FDA (USA) or MHRA (UK). That's why choosing a brand that goes to lengths to ensure its ingredients are sourced from reputable top-quality sources and producing it at a facility that adheres to good manufacturing practices is important.
5) Quality and vegan
Not all supplements are made equal. There are lots of brands that use fillers, artificial coloring, and flow agents in their manufacturing process. It's easy to avoid these unnecessary ingredients and another reason why examining the ingredients label is crucial.
investing in a vegan-friendly supplement is also something else to consider. Whether for moral, environmental, or dietary reasons, moving away from gelatine capsules or supplements that contain animal products is arguably the right way forward.
Best turmeric supplement - final words
That brings us to the end of our article on how to know what the best turmeric supplement is. There are tons of turmeric supplements on the market and the difference between them is often vast.
To summarise a few key points:
- The active ingredient in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant called curcumin
- Curcumin is VERY poorly absorbed into your bloodstream
- Curcumin is VERY quickly broken down by your liver into an inactive compound
The best turmeric supplements:
- Provide a highly bioavailable (i.e better absorbed) and breakdown resistant formula
- At the time of writing, Liquid curcumin utilizing micellar / lipid technology is, by far, the most absorbable and longer-lasting form of curcumin
- Stick to brands that stick offer premium quality curcumin that is vegan friendly with no artificial agents.