10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric may be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric
Many high-quality studies show that it has major benefits for your body and brain.
Here are the top 10 evidence-based health benefits of turmeric.
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color.
It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb.
Recently, science has started to back up what Indians have known for a long time — it really does contain compounds with medicinal properties
These compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high. It’s around 3%, by weight
Most of the studies on this herb are using turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day.
It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using the turmeric spice in your foods.
Therefore, if you want to experience the full effects, you need to take a supplement that contains significant amounts of curcumin.
Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. It helps to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%
The best curcumin supplements contain piperine, substantially increasing their effectiveness.
Curcumin is also fat soluble, so it may be a good idea to take it with a fatty meal.
Inflammation is incredibly important.
It helps your body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage.
Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over your body and kill you.
Although acute, short-term inflammation is beneficial, it can become a major problem when it becomes chronic and inappropriately attacks your body’s own tissues.
Scientists now believe that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic, Western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions .
Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases.
It blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of your cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. NF-kB is believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases
Without getting into the details (inflammation is extremely complicated), the key takeaway is that curcumin is a bioactive substance that fights inflammation at the molecular level
Oxidative damage is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind aging and many diseases.
It involves free radicals, highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons.
Free radicals tend to react with important organic substances, such as fatty acids, proteins or DNA.
The main reason antioxidants are so beneficial is that they protect your body from free radicals.
Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure
In addition, curcumin boosts the activity of your body’s own antioxidant enzymes
In that way, curcumin delivers a one-two punch against free radicals. It blocks them directly, then stimulates your body’s own antioxidant defenses.
Back in the day, it was believed that neurons weren’t able to divide and multiply after early childhood.
However, it’s now known that this does happen.
Neurons are capable of forming new connections, but in certain areas of the brain they can also multiply and increase in number.
One of the main drivers of this process is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a type of growth hormone that functions in your brain
Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of this hormone, including depression and Alzheimer’s disease
Interestingly, curcumin can increase brain levels of BDNF
By doing this, it may be effective in delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function
It may also improve memory and make you smarter, which seems logical given its effects on BDNF levels. However, controlled studies in people are needed to confirm this
Heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the world
Researchers have studied it for many decades and learned a lot about why it happens.
Unsurprisingly, heart disease is incredibly complicated and various things contribute to it.
Curcumin may help reverse many steps in the heart disease process
Perhaps the main benefit of curcumin when it comes to heart disease is improving the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of your blood vessels.
It’s well known that endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of heart disease and involves an inability of your endothelium to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and various other factors
Several studies suggest that curcumin leads to improvements in endothelial function. One study found that it’s as effective as exercise while another shows that it works as well as the drug Atorvastatin
In addition, curcumin reduces inflammation and oxidation (as discussed above), which play a role in heart disease as well.
One study randomly assigned 121 people, who were undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery, either a placebo or 4 grams of curcumin per day, a few days before and after the surgery.
The curcumin group had a 65% decreased risk of experiencing a heart attack in the hospital
Cancer is a terrible disease, characterized by uncontrolled cell growth.
There are many different forms of cancer, which still have several things in common. Some of them appear to be affected by curcumin supplements
Curcumin has been studied as a beneficial herb in cancer treatment and been found to affect cancer growth, development and spread at the molecular level
Studies have shown that it can contribute to the death of cancerous cells and reduce angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors) and metastasis (spread of cancer)
Multiple studies indicate that curcumin can reduce the growth of cancerous cells in the laboratory and inhibit the growth of tumors in test animals
Whether high-dose curcumin (preferably with an absorption enhancer like piperine) can help treat cancer in humans has yet to be studied properly.
However, there is evidence that it may prevent cancer from occurring in the first place, especially cancers of the digestive system like colorectal cancer.
In a 30-day study in 44 men with lesions in the colon that sometimes turn cancerous, 4 grams of curcumin per day reduced the number of lesions by 40%
Maybe curcumin will be used along with conventional cancer treatment one day. It’s too early to say for sure, but it looks promising and is being intensively studied.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and a leading cause of dementia.
Unfortunately, no good treatment is available for Alzheimer’s yet.
Therefore, preventing it from occurring in the first place is of utmost importance.
There may be good news on the horizon because curcumin has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier
It’s known that inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, and curcumin has beneficial effects on both
In addition, a key feature of Alzheimer’s disease is a buildup of protein tangles called amyloid plaques. Studies show that curcumin can help clear these plaques
Whether curcumin can really slow down or even reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in people is currently unknown and needs to be studied properly.
Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries.
There are several different types, most of which involve inflammation in the joints.
Given that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory compound, it makes sense that it may help with arthritis.
Several studies show this to be true.
In a study in people with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug
Many other studies have looked at the effects of curcumin on arthritis and noted improvements in various symptoms
Curcumin has shown some promise in treating depression.
In a controlled trial, 60 people with depression were randomized into three groups
One group took Prozac, another group one gram of curcumin and the third group both Prozac and curcumin.
After 6 weeks, curcumin had led to improvements that were similar to Prozac. The group that took both Prozac and curcumin fared best
According to this small study, curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant.
Depression is also linked to reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and a shrinking hippocampus, a brain area with a role in learning and memory.
Curcumin boosts BDNF levels, potentially reversing some of these changes
There is also some evidence that curcumin can boost the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine
If curcumin can really help prevent heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, it would have obvious benefits for longevity.
For this reason, curcumin has become very popular as an anti-aging supplement
But given that oxidation and inflammation are believed to play a role in aging, curcumin may have effects that go way beyond just preventing disease
Here, the best turmeric supplements.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Thorne Meriva-SF
Thorne’s Meriva-SF (soy-free) sustained-release capsules take the top pick among turmeric supplements for its high-quality, bioavailable formula. Meriva, a highly-studied form of curcumin, has been shown to have 29 times greater absorption than ordinary curcumin.4 The supplement manifests in phytosome form, meaning that the curcumin is bound to a phospholipid, sunflower oil, to optimize absorption.
Each gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free tablet contains 250 milligrams of curcumin phytosome. Thorne recommends taking one to two capsules twice daily or as recommended by your healthcare provider.
Meriva-SF may also be a good choice for those with osteoarthritis. One study following 100 patients with osteoarthritis over an eight-month period showed that supplementation with two 500-milligram Meriva-containing tablets per day resulted in better disease control, decreased use of NSAIDs for pain, and an overall improvement in the quality of life.5
Best for Joint Pain: Garden of Life mykind Organics Maximum Strength Turmeric Joints & Mobility Support
Garden of Life’s mykind Organics Maximum Strength Turmeric provides a powerful 500 milligrams of curcuminoids in each once-daily tablet.
The USDA Organic, Certified Vegan, and NSF-Certified Gluten-Free supplement combines black pepper and ginger with turmeric to create a highly effective anti-inflammatory.
In fact, research shows that the piperine in black pepper enhances the absorption and bioavailability of curcumin by up to 2000%.6 Ginger is a powerful supplement on its own, and it may add to the anti-inflammatory benefits of this supplement.7
Research suggests that curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, may be useful in decreasing pain in those with osteoarthritis.8 As a result, Garden of Life’s Turmeric supplement may be a great option for those looking to improve joint pain.
Best Budget: Nature Made Turmeric
The cost of turmeric supplements can vary, and the quality and effectiveness usually coincide with the price.
However, Nature Made’s Turmeric capsules are an exception. They’re budget-friendly without sacrificing quality. The supplements are guaranteed to meet Nature Made’s quality standards and provide 47.5 milligrams total curcuminoids in each capsule.
Curcumin is fat-soluble, so taking a curcumin supplement with a meal may improve absorption.9 Nature Made recommends taking one capsule daily with water and a meal. The gluten-free capsules are also free of added colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives.
Best Capsules: Vimerson Health Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine
Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory, with some studies even showing that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs, without the side effects.10 If you’re frequently dealing with chronic inflammation or osteoarthritis, these turmeric capsules from Vimerson Health are an excellent supplement to try.
Made of all natural, non-GMO ingredients, the formula contains 1200 milligrams of turmeric root, 100 milligrams of turmeric root extract, and 10 milligrams of BioPerine per serving.
BioPerine is a patented extract from black pepper that contains the active compound piperine. The addition of piperine enhances the bioavailability of the turmeric by up to 2000% and enhances the absorption with no adverse effects.6
It contains no hormones, no preservatives, artificial ingredients, or antibiotics, and it’s also free of sugar, yeast, starch, and cholesterol. To ensure the highest quality and purity, the supplement is made in an FDA-registered, GMP-certified facility.
Best Liquid: PuraTHRIVE Micelle Liposomal Turmeric with Fulvic Acid
If you’re not a fan of swallowing pills and don’t like chewing gummies, a liquid supplement may be the best choice for you.
In fact, research suggests that the liquid micellar formulation of curcumin may be the best among oral formulations in terms of bioavailability.11 PuraTHRIVE’s Liquid Micelle Liposomal Turmeric offers a highly bioavailable liquid that is quickly absorbed.
The unique technology—encapsulating the active curcumin into micelles and then enveloping that into liposomes— maximizes absorption and potency.
Each two-milliliter serving (or eight pumps) provides 550 milligrams of turmeric root extract and curcuminoids in addition to 100 micrograms of fulvic acid complex. Fulvic acid also provides anti-inflammatory protection.12
PuraTHRIVE is made in an FDA-inspected and GMP-certified facility with organic turmeric root. The GMO-free product is also free of gluten, wheat, dairy, fillers, and additives.
Best Powder: New Chapter Fermented Turmeric Booster Powder
Easily mixed into your favorite beverage or recipe, turmeric powder is a great way to integrate a turmeric supplement into your lifestyle without taking a pill. New Chapter’s Fermented Turmeric Booster Powder provides an easily digestible powder packed with anti-inflammatory turmeric plus probiotics.
The top-quality powder is USDA Organic, 100% vegan, NSF-Certified Gluten-Free, and Non-GMO Project Verified. Each half teaspoon serving provides 1190 milligrams of organic turmeric and a variety of probiotics including Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus. This fermented functional food can be an awesome smoothie booster, adding potent anti-inflammatory powers to your typical daily blend.
Best Gummies: Nordic Naturals Curcumin Gummies
If you prefer a sweet, chewable gummy instead of swallowing pills or mixing powder, Nordic Naturals’ Curcumin Gummies are a great choice. The tasty mango gummies contain no added sugar and are sweetened with xylitol, a low-calorie sugar alcohol.
Each serving of two gummies provides 15 calories and 200 milligrams of Longvida® Optimized Curcumin Extract. This specific formulation protects the curcumin particles as they pass through the digestive system and promotes maximal absorption.
The gummies do not contain gluten, milk derivatives, gelatin, or artificial colors or flavors. Plus, they’re Non-GMO Verified and Third-Party Purity Tested, so you know you’re getting a high-quality, pure product.
Best Spice: Simply Organic Turmeric
If you don’t love to take supplements, use a spice instead. While many studies use high doses of curcumin, which would equate to copious amounts of powdered turmeric, simply using a few shakes of the spice in everyday cooking may have small protective benefits.
Simply Organic’s ground turmeric root is perfect for adding the distinctive golden yellow color to curries but can be used in various dishes from rice and salad dressings to baked goods and beverages.
Each bottle is made from Certified Organic Alleppey turmeric, with a minimum of 4% curcumin content. Choosing Simply Organic is also good for the planet. The company is committed to supporting organic and sustainable farming.
What to Look for in a Turmeric Supplement
Dosage: Always check with your health care provider to choose a supplement and dosage that is appropriate for your individual needs. With a wide variety of formulas and turmeric-containing products, there are many options on the market, whether you’re looking for a higher dose capsule or a more mild powder. It’s important to note that supplements contain significantly more amounts of curcumin than the cooking spice.
Form: Turmeric supplements come in many forms, including capsules, liquid, and chewable gummies. If you have trouble swallowing pills, consider choosing a gummy, liquid, or powder option. With powder or liquid, you may be able to better adjust how much turmeric and curcumin you are getting.
Complementary Ingredients: Some turmeric supplements contain complementary ingredients, such as piperine, that may help the curcumin to be more bioavailable. Other formulations contain herbal ingredients like ginger or gut-boosting probiotics. When choosing a turmeric supplement, always read the ingredient list to ensure that all of the elements work for you.
What Experts Say
“Turmeric is an excellent ingredient to sprinkle into your diet for those looking for more anti-inflammatory benefits and an added antioxidant boost. While it’s not necessary to take turmeric as a stand-alone supplement, it’s quite easy to integrate it into your cooking to obtain the sought-after health perks.”—Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RD
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Thorne Meriva-SF at Amazon
“Meriva, a highly-studied form of curcumin, has been shown to have 29 times greater absorption than ordinary curcumin.”
Best for Joint Pain: Garden of Life mykind Turmeric at Amazon
“USDA Organic, Certified Vegan, and NSF-Certified Gluten-Free.”
Best Budget: Nature Made Turmeric at Amazon
“Budget-friendly without sacrificing quality.”
Best Capsules: Vimerson Health Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine at Amazon
“Matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs.”
“A highly bioavailable liquid that is quickly absorbed.”
Best Powder: New Chapter Fermented Turmeric Booster Powder
“Easily mixed into your favorite beverage or recipe.”
Best Gummies: Nordic Naturals Curcumin Gummies at Walmart
“Non-GMO Verified and Third-Party Purity Tested.”
Best Spice: Simply Organic Turmeric at Amazon
“Can be used in various dishes from rice and salad dressings to baked goods and beverages..”
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