You may be already familiar with the golden spice that is turmeric, and how lately it has been touted for its many incredible health benefits. From beauty and wellness products to lattes, shakes, cakes and many more, turmeric has become a worldwide phenomenon that took the wellness industry by storm.
But in all honesty, turmeric may be lauded as a superfood but the true benefits and power lie in curcumin, its main active ingredient. In this article, we will discuss all there is to know about curcumin, its dosage and why one should focus on curcumin instead of turmeric.
What Exactly Is Curcumin?
Turmeric contains around 100 compounds called curcuminoids. And among these, Curcumin is considered to be the most well-known and the most active compound in turmeric. Curcumin is also the one responsible for giving turmeric its characteristic yellow colour and also the one responsible for most of the medicinal benefits of turmeric. Therefore, in a way, curcumin is the real deal and without it, turmeric in itself would be nothing more than a simple yellow-less spice with not much of any health benefits.
Curcumin is a polyphenol which means it is a naturally occurring antioxidant. It is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory properties along with potent analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-cancer as well. Its health benefits range from boosting immunity to improving gut health to enhancing brain functioning to reducing joint and muscle pain. Hence, it is quite clear that curcumin is where the superpower lies. Additionally, curcumin in turmeric can be extracted to produce supplements that have a much higher potency than raw or powdered turmeric which we consume in our regular diet.
Drawbacks Of Turmeric
By now you are aware of how most of turmeric’s health benefits are credited to the curcumin compound and how turmeric in itself cannot provide all the benefits needed. And although regular raw or powdered turmeric which we use in our foods may contain curcumin, unfortunately, curcumin content in turmeric is relatively low (up to 3-5% only depending on the source and origin), so you would be needing a lot more than just a spoonful of turmeric to reap its health benefits, which can be quite challenging and even unsafe for health. Moreover, turmeric, in general, is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream and are easily and rapidly metabolized and eliminated. Therefore, curcumin supplements with unique formulations have a much higher potency and are your best bet when it comes to gaining the best of their benefits.
Additionally, many brands and companies these days use the words turmeric and curcumin interchangeably, claiming that they are the same. This is a false advertisement and it is important to educate yourself before investing efforts and money into such false products. It is also important to keep in mind that not every product that has curcumin on its label is better and healthier. Curcumin benefits lie in the amount of its concentration so make sure the products you buy have at least 95% concentration of pure curcumin extract.
Likewise, some brands are taking advantage of the buzzword by not exactly selling what they claim. For example, a healthy turmeric/curcumin bar, which is loaded with 20 grams of sugar and preservatives, and has a dash of curcumin, is not healthy for you. It has so much more inflammation-causing substance (sugar), which makes the anti-inflammatory present in it negligible. So, in disguise of a healthy turmeric bar, they are selling an unhealthy product, full of sugar.
Another drawback of turmeric is that it generates heat when consumed orally which limits its usage only for the cold winter days. Therefore, curcumin supplements are a better option for any time of the day and throughout the year.
Now that you know which one is better and what to look out for in a product the next time you go shopping, let us explore the ideal dosage of curcumin you should be taking for optimal benefits.
Ideal Curcumin Dose You Should Be Taking
Turmeric or Curcumin in its raw form, like any other herbs and spices, are generally safe for consumption. But taking turmeric or curcumin in the form of supplements can be different as supplements contain a significantly higher concentration of curcumin in them. With that in mind, taking not higher than 8g (8000 mg) of curcumin on a daily basis is likely safe (according to Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Nov 2015 review).
Curcumin is primarily available in the form of a capsule from commercial manufacturers, and the most common regimen is one to two 500 mg capsules daily with or without food. In one study, patients took one 500 mg capsule twice daily with or without food for 8 weeks for treatment of major depressive disorder and demonstrated positive result. Likewise, 500 mg of curcumin is a good dose for promoting gut health and keeping inflammation away.
It is also important to know that curcumin, just as it is with turmeric, is poorly absorbed on its own. So, even though you may be taking the recommended dosage, if it is not making its way into your gut, you are not getting the much-needed benefits. So to address this issue, it has been proven that pairing curcumin with piperine (Black pepper) can be a great way to enhance absorption of the body’s ability to absorb the inflammation-fighting agent. To supplement curcumin with piperine, take 500 mg of the former with 5-6.7 mg of the latter, thrice a day (i.e., 1,500 mg of curcumin and 15-20 mg of piperine per day).
Points To Remember
- Always check for a product that has at least 95% curcumin concentration for optimal benefits. (Or simply check out Preserva Wellness products with pure 95% curcumin extract along with potent ingredients to guarantee greater absorption level and efficacy.
- Curcumin is fat-soluble. So consuming it with healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, etc may increase absorption.
- The quality of the raw materials makes a huge difference. Always make sure the products are verified for safety, purity and quality.
- Most importantly, listen to your body. Although the side effects risk of curcumin is low and drug interactions are unlikely, you should reconsider if you notice ill effects.
With that being said, curcumin is what truly deserves all the credits and praise. With so many incredible health benefits, it is time people start acknowledging and appreciating how beneficial curcumin is to health. Turmeric may be touted as a superfood but curcumin is where the superpowers truly lie.