Curcumin is one of the bioactive ingredients found in turmeric. Over 4,000 studies assessing the therapeutic effect of curcumin in various health conditions have been recorded in Pubmed, database maintained by US National Library of Medicine.
Based on the positive outcomes of these studies researchers as well as nutraceutical giants have prepared curcumin supplements to optimize the intake and absorption of curcumin.
This article goes over the details of various popular formulations of curcumin, most of which have been patented and are available in the market as curcumin supplements.
Why is there a need for Turmeric / Curcumin Supplements?
Turmeric is a common spice easily available in India and Asian countries. India is the largest producer and consumer of turmeric.
Curcumin and curcuminoids account for 2-6% of turmeric. Turmeric as a herb or spice has much more to offer than just curcumin. But for certain health conditions, high concentrations of curcumin are required which can’t be provided by the amount of turmeric one consumes on a daily basis.
That is one of the prime reasons why curcumin supplements are prepared when you consider it in a health perspective.
Also, we cannot discount the fact that it easy much easier to consume curcumin supplements rather than thinking of ways to include turmeric in diet and manage the taste. Therefore various companies provide with a number of curcumin supplements each claiming to be a unique formulation.
The reason why there are so many different curcumin supplements is that there is one issue that impedes its effectiveness- curcumin’s bioavailability or absorption in the body.
What is the issue with absorption of curcumin?
Curcumin in turmeric has poor absorption in the body. The following factors affect its therapeutic efficacy:
- It has poor solubility.
- It is poorly absorbed in the gut.
- It is rapidly metabolised.
- It is rapidly eliminated from the system.
Curcumin is not soluble in water, but soluble in fats. Most of the curcumin consumed goes unmetabolised and is excreted. The part that is metabolised undergoes transformation into other metabolites.
Traditionally this absorption aspect was taken care of when elders advised consuming Turmeric Milk or ‘haldi ka doodh’ [ as called in India] or turmeric powder was cooked in ghee or oil as a part of any curry. This is because fats in both sources would aid in absorption.
Nevertheless, scientists are focusing on tackling the bioavailability issue of curcumin with advanced formulation techniques. There are 4 major categories of the formulations used to improve the bioavailability of turmeric:
- Use of adjuvants
- Liposomes, micelles, phospholipid complexes
- Emulsifying or dispersing agents
Some of these are still under research while some are available commercially in the market. The following list comprises of various curcumin formulations and patented versions that are available commercially.
Below, we discuss several types of supplements in detail. You can use the Table of Contents below to jump to something if your interest or just continue.
Table of Contents
- Why is there a need for Turmeric / Curcumin Supplements?
- What is the issue with absorption of curcumin?
- Best Turmeric / Curcumin Supplements in the Market Today
- Best Curcumin C3 complex Brands
- Best Curcumin Bioperine Brands
- Best Turmeric Curcumin Meriva Supplement
- Best Longvida Brands
- Best Curcumin Theracurmin Brands
- Best BCM-95 Curcumin Brands
- Standardized 95% curcumin – Most Common but Ineffective
- Other formulations
- Side effects & Precautions associated with Curcumin Supplements
Best Turmeric / Curcumin Supplements in the Market Today
When opting for curcumin supplements, one is bound to get confused because there are so many different formulations available and also so many brands. So, here are the best turmeric / curcumin supplement formulation and best brands. We also discuss in detail what these formulations contain and how do they affect the bioavailability and which conditions they benefit. Best curcumin supplement formulations are:
- Curcumin C3 complex
- Curcumin Bioperine
- Turmeric Curcumin Meriva Supplement
- Curcumin Theracurmin
- BCM-95 Curcumin
Let’s now check best brands using these formulations.
Best Curcumin C3 complex Brands
Sports Research Turmeric Curcumin C3 Complex
|1,300+||500 mg Curcumin C3 Complex 475 mg standardized 95% curcuminoids 5 mg Bioperine. organic extra virgin coconut oil.||USA, Canada|
Viva Naturals Non GMO Turmeric Curcumin C3
|950+||500 mg Curcumin C3 complex, 475 mg Turmeric root 5 mg Bioperine to aid in absorption||USA|
Doctor's Best Curcumin C3 Complex
|450+||1000mg Curcumin C3 Complex 6 mg Bioperine||USA, Canada, UK|
Curcumin C3 complex is by Sabsina Corp. and Sami Chemicals and Extract. As the name suggests it is the mixture of three curcuminoids.
This patented formulation contains the combination of curcuminoids in the following range 75-81% curcumin, 15-19% demethoxycurcumin, and 2.2-6.5% bisdemethoxycurcumin.
They claim that this composition is a ‘bioprotectant’. This is with reference to their antioxidant property: they can prevent conditions that cause oxidative stress and also resolve oxidative stress.
This combination of prevention and intervention makes this combination of curcuminoids a bioprotectant.
How bioavailable is Curcumin C3 Complex?
There isn’t much data available on the bioavailability of C3 complex but again since it is only a curcuminoid mixture the absorption will be limited.
A study published in Biomed Research International, 2014 reported that plasma curcumin levels were not detected even after administering 12g of oral curcumin (C3 complex).
What is the dosage of Curcumin C3 Complex?
500-1000mg of C3 complex per day (this dose range is used in research studies) or follow manufacturer’s recommended dosage
What is Curcumin C3 Complex good for?
Curcumin C3 complex has been successfully used in human studies with regards to following health conditions Cancer, Psoriasis, Alzheimer’s.
Best Curcumin Bioperine Brands
Schwartz Bioresearch Turmeric Curcumin Bioperine
|9,500+||1350 mg turmeric 150 mg standardized 95% curcumin 10 mg Bioperine||USA, Canada|
Doctor Danielle Turmeric Curcumin with Bioperine
|7,000+||1500 mg turmeric standardized 95% curcumin 140 mg ginger 10mg Bioperine in every 2 capsules||USA, Canada, UK|
Nutravita - Organic Turmeric
|800+||600 mg organic turmeric 5 mg organic black pepper||UK|
Piperine is the active constituent of black pepper that offers it the pungent spicy taste. Piperine interacts with drug metabolising enzymes and increases the absorption of various drugs.
A study shows that piperine can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%. Bioperine is a patented version of piperine. Bioperine or piperine, when taken with curcumin, prevents it from being metabolised and increases its absorption in the body.
Standardized 95% curcumin combined with bioperine or piperine are the simplest bioavailable formulations of curcumin available in the market. And they have been used in research studies and delivered beneficial results.
How bioavailable is Curcumin and Piperine/Bioperine?
2000% more bioavailable than curcumin alone
What is the dosage of Curcumin and Piperine/Bioperine?
1000mg curcumin + 10mg piperine / day (this dose range is used in research studies) or follow manufacturer’s recommended dosage
What is Curcumin and Piperine/Bioperine combination good for?
Curcumin-Piperine/Bioperine combination has been successfully used in human studies for following health conditions: Metabolic syndrome, Major depressive disorder, COPD, Osteoarthritis.
Best Turmeric Curcumin Meriva Supplement
Meriva is a phytosomal formulation of curcumin. It is a 1: 2 proportion of curcuminoids and lecithin. It is prepared by Indena S.p.A, Italy based company that identifies phytochemicals for utilisation in health and wellness products.
Lecthin is a fatty substance. This was first isolated from egg yolk but it also available from plant sources like soy.
Phosphatidylcholine is the most important constituent of lecithin used in Meriva or lecthinized formulation of curcumin. It is amphiphatic in nature- it has groups that attract water molecules and groups that attract lipid molecule thus permitting the formulation to be miscible in both environments.
Curcumin is dispersed into this lecithin complex and this lecithin envelopes the curcuminoid in a way that absorption related properties are altered and it is easily passed into the cell membranes for absorption. This entire complex of lecithin with any bioactive molecules is known as phytosome.
500mg Meriva contains 100mg curcuminoids, 200mg soy lecithin and 200mg microcrystalline cellulose.
A study comparing the absorption of Meriva with curcumin in humans revealed the following points :
- Meriva was 29 times more bioavailable than standard curcumin (C95).
- Meriva was absorbed 2x faster than standard curcumin.
- Curcumin from Meriva was 18 times more bioavailable than that from standard curcumin.
- Concentration of other curcuminoids in plasma was 50-60 times more than that of standard curcumin.
Low dose Meriva (209mg), High dose Meriva (376 mg) and 1799mg of standard curcuminoids was used.
How Bioavailable is Meriva?
29 times more than standard curcumin (but if weight is taken into consideration then 6 times more bioavailable than standard curcumin)
What is the dosage of Meriva?
1000 -2000mg of Meriva per day ( equivalent to 200-400mg curcumin/day; this dose range is used in research studies) or follow manufacturer’s recommended dosage
What is Meriva good for?
Meriva has successfully been used in human studies for following health conditions: Pain relief, Osteoarthritis, Cancer treatment side effects, Diabetic complications, Osteoarthritis, Sarcopenia, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, Psoriasis vulgaris, Chronic anterior uveitis.
Best Longvida Brands
Longvida is a patented formulation of curcumin prepared by Verdure Sciences, USA and researchers at UCLA.
If you visit the official site page of Longvida, you will get the details of how Longvida was prepared. So various compounds were screened to identify a natural agent for healthy brain ageing and curcumin was selected.
But curcumin had issues with bioavailability and as mentioned previously 3 parameters needed to be dealt with solubility, permeability and stability. After investigating various techniques, the researchers developed what is called Solid Lipid Curcumin Particle Technology (SLCP TM Technology).
In this formulation, curcumin is packed into a matrix that is lipophilic-it attracts fat molecules. This system carries curcumin and protects it from the pH in the gastric environment, dissolves it in GI tract and delivers a free form of curcumin to the bloodstream.
Longvida preparation is free from harsh solvents and volatile oil. 400mg Longivida contains 80mg curcumin along with vegetable-derived stearic acid dextrin, hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (vegetarian capsule), soy lecithin, ascorbyl palmitate and silicon dioxide.
A study investigating the safety and efficacy of of Longvida in osteosarcoma patients and as well as healthy individuals demonstrated that curcumin from Longvida was 65 times more bioavailable than equal quantity of unformulated 95% curcuminoids.
How bioavailable is Longvida?
65 times more bioavailable than standard curcumin
What is the dosage of Longvida?
400mg of Longvida /day (80mg curcumin/day) or follow manufacturer’s recommended dosage. Doses as high as 2000mg of Longvida/day have been used in research studies
What is Longvida good for?
Longvida has been successfully used in human studies for following health conditions: Osteosarcoma, Aging brain, Heart health and endothelial function, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, Oral submucous fibrosis.
Best Curcumin Theracurmin Brands
Theracurmin is a novel bioavailable formulation of curcumin prepared by Theravalues Corporation, Japan.
It is a nanoparticle colloidal dispersion- Extremely tiny particles close to the nanoscale are made and combined with a gum to form a microscopic dispersible agent. Primarily curcumin powder is extracted from turmeric and is mixed with gum ghatti solution and water and glycerine are added.
Ghatti trees are found in Asian countries like India, Nepal, Myanmar etc. and their exudate contains polysaccharides that are dissolved in water to form gum ghatti solution.
The mixture is then ground using a wet mill and other apparatus are used to prepare extremely small particles.
Theracurcumin contains 10% w/w curcumin, 2% of other curcuminoids, 46% glycerine, 4% gum ghatti and 38% water. Each capsule of Theracurcmin offers 30mg curcumin.
A study conducted to assess Theracurmin’s bioavailability demonstrated that its bioavailability is 27 times higher than standard curcumin.
Another study comparing Theracurmin’s bioavailability to other commercial preparations demonstrated that Theracurmin’s plasma curcumin concentration was 10.7 to 5.6 times higher than BCM-95 and Meriva respectively.
The dosage of curcumin used in the study was as follows:
- Theracurmin: 6 capsules =180 mg curcumin
- BCM-95: 1 capsule = 260mg curcumin
- Meriva: 2 capsule = 150mg
Researchers do mention that no attempt was made to unify the dosages as there was chances of degradation of curcumin when standardizing the dosages. Therefore they used dosages that are recommended amounts for commercial use and are also used in studies.
How Bioavailable is Theracurmin?
27 times more bioavailable than standard curcumin
What is the dosage of Theracurmin?
150-400mg of Theracurmin/day (this dose range is used in research studies) or follow manufacturer’s recommended dosage
What is Theracurmin good for?
Theracurmin has been successfully used in human studies for following health conditions: Cancer, Osteoarthritis, Atherosclerosis, COPD, Delayed onset muscle soreness or exercise-induced muscle damage, Heart failure, Alcohol metabolism, Heart health after menopause, Skin anti-aging.
Other research done on Theracurmin’s health benefits can be found on Theravalues website.
Best BCM-95 Curcumin Brands
BCM-95 or Bio Curcumin is a patented formulation developed by Arjuna Natural Extracts and Dolcas Biotech.
This formulation combines curcumin with one of the important active ingredients of turmeric oil, ar-turmerone. Naturally turmeric oil present in the spice assists the absorption and bioavailability of curcuminoids in the turmeric root.
Therefore based on this principle, Arjuna Natural combined standardized 95% curcuminoids with ar-turmerone to give a highly bioavailable formulation of curcumin. This patented composition of curcumin essential oil combination contains 86% curcuminoids and 7-9% essential oils.
A study conducted to compare the bioavailability of BCM 95 with other curcumin formulations revealed that :
- Curcumin from BCM-95 was 6.93 times more bioavailable than standard curcumin
- Curcumin from BCM-95 was 6.3 times more bioavailable than curcumin-lecthin-piperine formulation.
Not much details are available as to how much curcumin is available in 500mg BCM-95 but claims are close to 450mg of free curcumin in every 500mg supplement. However this needs verification.
How bioavailable is BCM-95?
6.93 times more bioavailable than standard curcumin
What is the dosage of BCM-95?
1000mg/day(this dose range is used in research studies) or follow manufacturer’s recommended dosage
What is BCM-95 good for?
BCM-95 has been successfully used in human studies for following health conditions: Joint health, Arthritis, Major Depressive Disorder, Cancer treatment side effects, Cancer, Prostate Health, Osteoarthritis, Brain health and Alzheimer’s prevention
Standardized 95% curcumin – Most Common but Ineffective
This is the most common term printed in the ingredient list of curcumin supplements. Standardized 95% curcumin or C95 is the widely used curcumin composition in research studies.
Standardized 95% curcumin or C95 contains approximately 72.2% curcumin, 18.8% demethoxycurcumin, 4.5% bisdemethoxycurcumin.
Now, why not 100% or 95 % curcumin? Curcuminoids are present as a mixture of these 3 components even in the spice turmeric. Extracting higher percentage of curcumin would only add to extraction expenses and not make a difference to the therapeutic effect of curcumin.
Standardized 95% curcumin or curcuminoids is the standard composition of curcumin free from any additives. It is commonly used in research studies and by itself is poorly absorbed in the body.
The subsequent formulations developed indicate increased absorption in comparison to the absorption of C95. Avoid curcumin supplements that do not indicate the presence of standardized 95% curcumin/curcuminoids or the subsequent formulations.
How bioavailable is standardized 95% curcumin?
What is the dosage of standardized 95% curcumin?
500-1000mg per day (this dose range is used in many research studies) or follow dosage suggested by the manufacturer
What is standardized 95% curcumin good for?
Standardized 95% curcumin is used in experimental, animal as well as human studies for various health conditions
Here is a list of other formulations that are have not been relatively explored by consumers and clinical trials on the same is limited.
Curcumin C3 reduct
It is a combination of curcuminoids with its metabolite tetrahydrocurcumin. It is a colorless formulation unlike the vibrant orange-yellow of turmeric. Sabsina Corp states that 400mg of Curcumin C3 Reduct is equivalent to 1500mg of Curcumin C3 complex.
Curcumin cyclodextrin complex
Cyclodextrin is compounds containing sugar molecules in a cyclic structure and is used in drug delivery. Curcumin cyclodextrin complexes are being investigated in terms of therapeutic efficacy.
CAVACURMIN by Wacker Chemie AG is one of the commercially available curcumin formulations that use curcumin cyclodextrin complex. It is said to be 40 times more bioavailable than standard curcumin. However, we have not come across any clinical evidence has tested its efficacy in any health condition.
Curcumin with Hydrophilic carrier
This involves dispersing curcuminoids in water-soluble carriers like polyvinyl pyrrolidone and cellulose derivatives and little fat, thus making the mixture water soluble.
OmniActive Health Technologies has launched CurcuWin, a formulation that works on this principle and is said to be 46 times more bioavailable than standard curcumin. However, not much data is known on its clinical relevance.
This formulation of curcumin is prepared by Maypro Industries, USA.
It is a sustained release system of micronized curcumin where the size of curcumin particles is significantly reduced (10 microns). This is then introduced into a polymer system which allows curcumin to be released for a long time in the system.
It is said to be 10 times more bioavailable than standard curcumin.
Side effects & Precautions associated with Curcumin Supplements
Curcumin supplements are relatively safe but there has been no long-term study to confirm its safety of its chronic dosage for long periods. However, the study has found dosage as high as 12g to be safe in humans.
Always start with small doses of curcumin to avoid gastric discomfort. Starting with high doses may cause symptoms such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea etc. Increasing dosage gradually helps in attenuating such symptoms.
Rule out any chances of allergen which could be evidenced by skin rashes or major gastric symptoms. In that case, immediately discontinue use of curcumin.
Curcumin has anti-platelet property; hence those on blood thinners or suffering from bleeding risk should avoid curcumin supplements or consult a doctor prior. It is for this very reason that it is advised to discontinue turmeric or curcumin 2 weeks prior to surgical procedures. (Read Is turmeric a blood thinner?)
Curcumin causes gallbladder contraction and hence may cause pain in those suffering from gallstones or active gallbladder obstruction. (Can you take turmeric if suffering from gallstones?)
Curcumin supplements should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation.
Curcumin interferes with drug metabolism. Hence it is advised to not to take curcumin supplements concomitantly with any medication. A 3-4 hour gap should be maintained.
Please consult a health practitioner before taking curcumin supplements.
Researchers are investigating various ways to increase the absorption of curcumin. However one should understand that these increments bioavailability, in some cases, are not made for a unified dose or are not taking the weight into account.
Also even though supplements offer an increased bioavailability, the amount of curcumin in the supplement is less than a capsule containing standardized 95% curcumin.
One of the safe and effective formulations of curcumin is standardized 95% curcumin with piperine; this combination has proven to be helpful in many health conditions. Also, it is relatively inexpensive.
The Golden Paste offers you whole turmeric with black pepper and healthy fats that take care of the absorption while providing health benefits. You can also make Golden Paste from fresh roots. Also including turmeric in diet can hold multiple health benefits.