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If you’ve ever been to the spice aisle of the supermarket, you’ve most likely been struck at one point or another by the vibrant yellow color of turmeric. This regal spice has gained widespread attention recently due to a number of purported health benefits, many of which have a very strong scientific backing to them.
In case you haven’t already, check out our article on the benefits of turmeric to get the low down on the spice.
But, even if you have and already know about this Indian rhizome’s well-studied anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, anti-cancer, cardioprotective, and cholesterol-lowering properties, you may still be wondering: what is the best turmeric supplement for vegans?
Well, you’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers! In this article, we’re going to give you a quick refresher on the benefits of turmeric and tell you what you need to know when picking a turmeric supplement.
We’ve also rounded up six of the top-rated turmeric supplements on the market and reviewed them for you. Finally, we’ll let you in on what we’ve found to be the best turmeric supplement around.
So, if you’re considering adding turmeric supplements to your diet, then read on.
What is turmeric and what are its benefits?
Turmeric is a plant in the same family as ginger, the roots of which have been used for thousands of years both as a medicine and as a cooking spice. The plant originates in India and contains curcumin and curcuminoids (not to be confused with cumin) which are the active ingredients responsible for most of its health benefits. (1)
This colorful spice is extremely popular on the Indian peninsula and is used in almost all curry dishes. Outside of India, turmeric is also often an ingredient in Vietnamese, Mexican, Cambodian, and Thai foods.
While there is no conclusive evidence that turmeric supplementation can be used a treatment for any condition, there is a wide range of very promising research that shows that adding this spice to your diet has a number of health benefits.
These include treating osteoarthritis and depression, lowering high cholesterol, enhancing the memory of those with age-related memory issues, and even stopping or slowing the spread of certain types of cancer. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
If you want to learn more about turmeric and its benefits, be sure to check out our Turmeric and Curcumin 101 article for more information, or take a look at the video below for a quick rundown:
Turmeric supplements vs. dietary turmeric
While adding turmeric to your foods may spice up your diet (literally and figuratively), there are a number of reasons why those seeking the health benefits of turmeric may find supplements to be a better option.
In order to receive most of the health benefits that come from turmeric, you need to eat a lot – around one and a half teaspoons of the stuff. That’s about 500 mg to 1,000 mg of curcuminoids. Most dishes that use turmeric don’t contain anywhere near that – so that’s one very spicy dish!
Of course, it’s possible to spread out your turmeric intake over multiple different meals, but you’d need to make sure that pretty much every meal you eat has turmeric in it, which can be challenging, especially if you’re following a Western diet.
While we have a list of recipes that include turmeric in our 101 guide, this would take a lot of effort to do all day every day, and even if you are able to manage it, you still may not get enough to see any health effects.
Turmeric supplements, on the other hand, are often made of turmeric extract, which has a much higher concentration of curcumin and curcuminoids.
While 2,000 to 2,500 mg of regular turmeric spice contains about 100 to 200 mg of curcuminoids, the same amount of extract can contain between 1,900 and 2,375 mg of curcuminoids. Put another way: turmeric spice is 3% curcuminoids by weight, while turmeric extract can be up to 95% curcuminoids by weight.
Supplementation makes it much easier to accurately gauge whether or not you are getting a medicinal dose – there’s no guessing involved. High-quality turmeric supplements are accurately pre-measured, making them not only easy to take with a meal, but also far simpler to measure your dosage.
The hassle-free administration of turmeric supplements means that it’s simple to consistently get a dose that will give you its full health benefits.
Therefore, if your primary interest in turmeric is more medicinal than gustatory, supplementation is the best choice. While adding turmeric to your diet will expand your palette, it will be hard to reap the health benefits without the accurate and consistent dosing that comes from supplements.
What should I look for in a turmeric supplement?
The differences between various turmeric supplements come down to a few different things:
- Curcumin concentration
- Delivery method (gummy, capsule, tablet, and whether it’s vegan)
- Other ingredients (ginger or other supplements)
- Absorption aid
- Whether it’s organic
Dosage is perhaps the most important factor to consider when looking for a supplement of any kind. While the recommended dosage varies depending on what condition is being treated, the general recommendation is between 500 and 2,000 mg of turmeric extract or curcumin per day.
However, it’s probably best not to exceed 1,500 mg, as there have been rare cases reported of complications at this dosage.
There is also a separate recommendation for turmeric root powder, as opposed to turmeric extract or curcumin. This recommendation is to stay between 1,000 and 3,000 mg per day.
Unfortunately, since research into turmeric is so new, it’s hard to say what effects you’ll get at this dosage – most studies have been conducted on curcumin or turmeric extract and the effects of turmeric root powder are not as well documented.
Still, some new studies have found that other compounds in turmeric besides curcumin, such as turmerone, may lead to some health benefits, so your mileage will vary with root powder.
Below are some recommended dosages for different conditions. Some of the dosage recommendations are for curcumin and others are for turmeric or turmeric extract – this is based on what was used in each study.
This can seem confusing, but keep in mind that in a turmeric supplement with a high percentage of curcumin, turmeric extract and curcumin can become basically interchangeable.
- Allergic rhinitis: 500 mg of curcumin daily for 2 months
- Depression: 500 mg of curcumin twice daily for 6 – 8 weeks
- High cholesterol: 1,400 mg of turmeric extract twice daily for 3 months
- Prostate cancer: 500 mg of curcuminoids
Turmeric is generally considered safe for short-term use, but there aren’t enough studies on long-term use to be sure of its effects over a long period of time. Because of this, if you want to use turmeric supplements as a preventative measure against cancer, it’s best to keep the dosage low.
While supplements advertising high dosages per capsule, tablet, or gummy can seem appealing, sometimes lower dosages can be more advantageous – getting a supplement with less turmeric per serving will allow you more flexibility over your dosage.
For example: a supplement with 500 mg of turmeric extract per serving will allow you to choose whether you want to supplement with 500 mg, 1,000 mg, or 1,500 mg, while a supplement with 1,500 mg per serving will leave you no other option than to supplement with 1,500 mg.
Many turmeric supplements contain a mix of turmeric root and turmeric extract, while some contain just one or the other.
Turmeric extract is usually 95% curcumin and turmeric root is usually only 3% curcumin, so you have to keep this in mind when figuring out how much turmeric extract and curcumin you get from a supplement.
Working this out can take a little bit of math, but it’s very important to calculate how much of the active ingredient, curcumin, you get from a supplement.
Let’s imagine a supplement that contains 1,000 mg of turmeric root powder and an additional 100 mg of 95% turmeric extract per capsule. The turmeric root is 3% curcumin, and 3% of 1,000 mg (0.03 x 1,000) is 30 mg.
The turmeric extract is 95% curcumin, and 95% of 100 mg (0.95 x 100) is 95 mg. Add the two amounts together and you find that 1 capsule contains 125 mg of curcumin, so you’d need to take 4 capsules to get 500 mg of curcumin – but don’t do this!
This would be a bad idea, as the maximum recommended dose of turmeric root powder is 3,000 mg and taking 4 capsules would put you at 4,000 mg. However, some sources say that 1,000 mg of turmeric root powder can offer some health benefits despite the low amount of curcumin.
Since research is ongoing and very little is known definitively, it’s difficult to say what effects you will get, but we do know that we can’t really rely on the established research for these cases – this is experimental territory. In a case like the one above, it’s best to either stick with the 1,000 – 3,000 mg recommendation and see how it works for you, or to find another supplement that uses an extract.
You can usually find what is contained in each supplement on the ingredients list of the bottle. If it lists turmeric root, powder, or just turmeric, then you can assume 3% of that amount is curcumin.
Many supplements that contain turmeric extract will state what percentage is curcumin, but if they don’t, assume 95% just to make sure you don’t end up taking too much – better to overestimate than underestimate in this case!
This is mainly going to come down to preference. Some people prefer gummies, others prefer capsules or tablets. Make sure you check the ingredients when looking at a supplement because some capsules are made of gelatin, and other delivery methods may contain other animal ingredients.
Sometimes supplement manufacturers will combine one supplement with another that may have a synergistic effect. In certain cases, this can be very helpful, but it can also be a real pain if there’s a reason you don’t want the bonus ingredient, such as an allergy, or a preferred brand for that ingredient.
The most common ingredient that’s paired with turmeric is ginger. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger can often work synergistically with turmeric to provide more relief to people suffering from conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Ginger can also help with the main side effect of turmeric supplementation: upset stomach.
That said, if you’re already supplementing with ginger, you have to be careful as taking even more ginger could put you over the daily recommended intake.
The same goes for any other added ingredients: thoroughly research them and make sure they’re safe for you to take. More is not always better with supplements, even though in some cases it can be.
In order to make turmeric more bioavailable and easily absorbed by the body, some supplement manufacturers include absorption aids such as BioPerine or black pepper in their formulas.
Black pepper has been shown to increase the absorption of curcumin by a large amount due to a chemical called piperine, which inhibits the breakdown of curcumin in the body so less goes to waste.
BioPerine is a formulation of piperine that has a higher concentration than regular black pepper, similar to how turmeric extract has more curcumin than regular turmeric.
Not all turmeric supplements are organic. If this is something that’s important to you, make sure you check the supplement bottle for an indication that it’s an organic product.
What are the best turmeric supplements?
To make things easier for you, we’ve rounded up and reviewed six of the best turmeric and curcumin supplements available. We’ve also included our pick for best supplement overall.
If you’ve decided to supplement with turmeric, or are just curious, read on to find out what the best options are.
Premier Turmeric by Premier Research Labs
Premier Research Labs’ offering contains only turmeric rhizome (turmeric root). This supplement does not use turmeric extract – instead, it consists entirely of 500 mg of turmeric powder. Because of this, Premier Research Labs does not specify a curcumin content, stating that the actual amount of curcumin will vary with each harvest.
Still, given the dosage per capsule, we can estimate that it’s around 15 mg of curcumin per capsule, so bear in mind that you’d need to take a good amount of these each day (33 capsules) to reach the established dosage for anti-inflammatory effects (500 mg) – don’t do this!
On the other hand, the recommended dosage for turmeric root is only 1 to 3 grams (1,000 – 3,000 mg) per day, so this supplement supplies half of the low end of the guidelines per serving.
Perhaps the nicest thing about this supplement is that Premier Research Labs puts a lot of work into testing the purity and quality of their ingredients. This supplement is organic, non-GMO, vegan, and screened for illegal dyes, aflatoxins (toxins produced by certain fungi and plants), heavy metals, adulterants, and pathogens.
They also promise that their capsules are free of magnesium stearate, which they say is an undesirable additive, but there are no scientific studies that support this view and it is generally recognized as safe by most major health organizations.
While Premier Research Labs touts its turmeric supplements as having undergone rigorous purity and quality testing, they unfortunately don’t post their test results and there is no third party verification, so you’d have to take them at their word.
Unfortunately, there is no black pepper or any other absorption aid included, so less of the active ingredients may be absorbed into the body. Considering that the dose of curcumin is already low, this could be a problem.
That said, if this supplement does live up to its purity promises, then this is a very high-quality turmeric supplement that is great for anyone who wants to make sure their supplement contains what it’s supposed to and nothing else. Just keep in mind that this is not a turmeric extract supplement, so it will have lower levels of curcumin and may not give the desired health benefits.
- If Premier Research Labs’ promises are true, this is a very pure and high-quality supplement
- Purity claims are not verified by any third-party organization and lab results are not available
- Low amount of curcumin means desired health benefits may not be achieved with this supplement
- No absorption aid
iVitamins Turmeric, Curcumin, and Ginger Gummies
This is the only supplement on our list that comes in gummy form, so if you don’t like swallowing pills, you should definitely check this one out. This supplement doesn’t actually contain any turmeric, despite its name – the only two active ingredients are curcumin and ginger. The amount of curcumin is clearly stated on the bottle: 270 mg per 2 gummies. This means that if you want to take the recommended daily 500 mg of curcumin for anti-inflammatory effects, you’d need to take 4 of these per day. At this dosage (540 mg per day), one bottle will last you about two weeks. Check with your doctor before doing this though, as the directions state to only take two a day. One thing you should keep in mind with this supplement is that there are a lot of extra ingredients. In order to make the gummies tasty, they’ve added glucose syrup (corn syrup) and cane sugar – 5.2 grams of sugar per serving, or 10.4 grams per 540 mg. If you’re looking after your sugar intake, you may want to avoid these. In addition to the added sugar, there ’s natural and artificial flavoring, citrus pectin, citric acid, and sodium citrate. They’ve also added ginger, which can help reduce inflammation and help with stomach issues. This supplement also lacks an absorption aid, so bioavailability of the curcumin may be low. If you want pure turmeric, curcumin, or turmeric extract, with no other ingredients, this supplement shouldn’t be on your short list. But if you don’t mind the added ingredients and are also in the market for a ginger supplement, this may work very nicely for you due to its good dose of curcumin.
Great for those who don’t like swallowing pills Good dosage of curcumin
Lots of added ingredients and sugar No black pepper or other absorption aid
Amazotic Turmeric with BioPerine and Ginger
Amazotic’s Turmeric supplement is the first we’ve reviewed so far that has an absorption aid included – major win here for Amazotic!
This supplement includes BioPerine, which, as we mentioned before, is a highly concentrated version of the active ingredient in black pepper. Including BioPerine means that it will be easier for your body to absorb the active ingredients, so less will go to waste in your stomach.
As far as the amount of turmeric goes, there’s 500 mg of turmeric root and 50 mg of 95% turmeric extract per serving (1 capsule), so there’s approximately 62 mg of curcuminoids per serving. That’s pretty far off from the recommended amount of curcumin and curcuminoids for anti-inflammatory effects, which is usually 500 mg.
However, the recommended dosage for turmeric root is 1 – 3 grams (1,000 – 3,000 mg) per day, so if you want to use turmeric, but not its anti-inflammatory, anti-depressive, cholesterol lowering, or other palliative effects, this may work for you. Just take two a day and you’ll be within the guidelines set out by the University of Maryland for turmeric intake.
Amazotic also includes ginger extract in their offering – 100 mg per serving, to be precise. This can be useful if turmeric upsets your stomach, as ginger is a common home remedy for stomach discomfort and nausea. If you’re looking for pure turmeric capsules though, this won’t fit the bill.
Overall, this is a good supplement and is a good choice for anyone who doesn’t mind the fairly small amount of curcuminoids contained in each serving. If turmeric often upsets your stomach, this is also a great choice.
- Contains BioPerine to help with absorption
- Added ginger can help with stomach discomfort from turmeric
- Doesn’t contain enough curcuminoids to get well-studied medicinal benefits
- Not certified organic
HighMark Nutrition Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine and Ginger
This supplement from HighMark Nutrition contains a good amount of turmeric and ginger extract and even comes with BioPerine to help with absorption.
Like the other supplements we’ve reviewed, HighMark Nutrition’s offering likely doesn’t contain enough curcumin to achieve its best-studied benefits – there’s only approximately 125 mg of curcuminoids.
That said, it does meet the guidelines set out by the University of Maryland for turmeric root powder, so you may see some health benefits from this supplement.
The inclusion of BioPerine is a big plus. This absorption aid will help the active ingredients in turmeric get into your system instead of just passing through or being degraded in your stomach. Without an absorption aid, a lot of turmeric will simply go to waste.
Having ginger extract included can be a big help for those who experience stomach issues from spices like turmeric. Stomach discomfort is the most common side effect of turmeric supplementation, so if you’ve got a sensitive stomach, the added ginger can be a godsend.
Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties of its own, so if you’re using turmeric for inflammatory issues, the two may work very synergistically together.
Overall, this is a good choice so long as you’re not hoping to use the curcumin in turmeric as a treatment for specific conditions, as the amount of curcuminoids in each serving is a bit low.
The added ginger also makes this supplement a great fit for those who experience stomach discomfort when consuming turmeric.
- The inclusion of BioPerine helps to increase the bioavailability of active ingredients
- Meets recommendations for turmeric intake
- Doesn’t reach the recommended dosage for curcumin
- Not organic
East 270 Nutrition Turmeric + 95% Curcumin
With 1,500 mg of turmeric per serving, this supplement from East 270 Nutrition falls well within the recommended guidelines for turmeric consumption. While it doesn’t contain much curcumin – 140 mg instead of the recommended 500 mg – you may experience some health benefits regardless.
The exclusion of any additional ingredients besides BioPerine may come as a welcome relief to those who have struggled to find a turmeric capsule without other supplements included. The only three ingredients in this supplement are turmeric root, 95% turmeric extract, BioPerine, and vegetable cellulose for the pill casing.
One downside to these capsules is that they aren’t organic, so if that’s important to you then you may want to look elsewhere. That said, these seem to be high-quality turmeric supplements produced in FDA certified facilities.
The included BioPerine is once again a welcome addition as it helps to increase the absorption of the active ingredients into your body. Best not to let any go to waste!
If you’re looking for a plain and simple turmeric supplement without any added frills, this will probably work pretty well for you. Just make sure that the low levels of curcumin don’t bother you. While this supplement meets the guidelines for turmeric, it falls short of the guidelines for curcumin, which is responsible for many of turmeric’s health benefits.
- Meets the guidelines for turmeric dosage
- Contains BioPerine to aid in absorption
- Plain and simple turmeric supplement – no other nasties included
- Falls short of the recommended curcumin dosage
- Exclusion of ginger may also be a downside for some people
Gaia Herbs Turmeric Supreme Extra Strength Liquid Phyto-Capsules
Gaia Herbs’ turmeric supplement is pretty unique – instead of using powdered turmeric or turmeric extract like most other brands, Gaia Herbs dissolves their turmeric extract in liquid and fills up their capsules with the resulting solution.
This supposedly helps improve the absorption of the turmeric, but there aren’t enough studies to know if that’s really the case.
This is also the only supplement on our top six list that doesn’t use any turmeric root at all. It’s made entirely of a blend of three different turmeric extracts – 482 mg in total. It’s definitely within range of the recommendations for turmeric extract dosage, which is 500 mg – this supplement is only 18 mg shy.
Surprisingly, each capsule only has about 36 mg of curcumin in it. However, since there have been a large number of studies done on turmeric extracts even without standardized curcumin contents, the effects are a bit more predictable.
While not every ingredient is organic, everything is either organic or ecologically produced. All ingredients are also non-GMO, so if staying natural is important to you, this is a great choice.
Black Pepper extract is also included to aid in the absorption of the active ingredients into the body. This is the only other ingredient included besides turmeric extract, which may come as good news to those who don’t want any more ingredients than necessary in their supplements.
This is a great supplement for most people because it contains enough turmeric extract to start seeing many of the spice’s medicinal benefits. Combined with the black pepper extract, this is a very effective supplement. To make things even better, each bottle contains 120 servings, so this product will last you a while.
- Contains enough turmeric extract to meet the recommended dosage for many health conditions
- Black pepper extract included to help absorption
- 120 capsules per bottle means one purchase will last you a while
- Unclear exactly how much curcumin is in the extracts
Our Choice For Best Turmeric Supplement In 2018
If you’re looking to get some serious health benefits from turmeric, then Gaia Herbs’ Turmeric Supreme wins hands down. This is the only supplement we found that contains enough turmeric extract to meet the recommendations based on most scientific studies.
According to the majority of studies, the amelioration of health conditions like osteoarthritis and allergic rhinitis start becoming apparent at 500 mg of turmeric extract – most of the supplements we found only have 100 mg of extract or less!
The added black pepper extract really seals the deal. Not only does this supplement contain a hefty dose of turmeric, but it comes bundled with a great absorption aid as well, which will ensure that you get as much turmeric and curcumin into your system as possible.
The only downside to this product is that it’s not 100% organic, but all ingredients are at the very least ecologically harvested and non-GMO.
While the research into turmeric isn’t conclusive, it does show great promise, and if you’ve been suffering from osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, cancer, depression, allergic rhinitis, a variety of other health conditions, or just want to find a preventative supplement, you may want to give turmeric supplementation a try.
Turmeric’s long history of being used as a medicine around the world without many negative side effects means that you don’t have much to lose by giving it a shot – especially if nothing else is working for you.
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Even if you decide that supplementation isn’t for you, adding a bit of turmeric to your meals might be just what you need to spice up your diet. Regardless of health benefits: the spice is nice! Give it a try!
About The Author:
Phil Grossman is a lifestyle, real estate, and culture writer based out of New York.
A polyglot who speaks French, German, Spanish, a bit of Japanese, and a little Norwegian, Phil likes to put his love for language to good use both through traveling and writing in his second language: music. An experienced composer, Phil teaches and writes both electronic music and music for media.
Phil has been interviewed on the TODAY Show and featured on CBS 2 News, Anderson Cooper 360, and in the Journal News for his work as an education activist. Passionate about many different societal and institutional issues, Phil has shifted his current focus towards veganism and environmentalism.
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