Turmeric & Curcumin

Tips on buying turmeric.

Why is a large bag of golden turmeric in the spice aisle of a supermarket cheaper than a turmeric supplement in a health store? What you see in the supermarket is simply ground-up turmeric (Curcuma longa).

When you purchase turmeric from the health store, normally in capsule form, you hopefully won’t just be getting the ground up root. And if you do, it hopefully will be a concentrated version. To get the best value for money and to choose the best turmeric supplement, you need to know what to look for on the label. Often the cheaper option, won’t work and is just not worth it.

What is Curcumin

Many of the health benefits that are attributed to turmeric come from the many studies done on curcumin. The problem is curcumin is a small percentage of the turmeric root.


The first thing to look for on the label when buying your turmeric is the wording (95% Curcuminoids). This is where those clever supplement elves have isolated and extracted the curcuminoids. Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid found in turmeric, the others are demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. The natural ratio of curcuminoids found in turmeric is approximately 77% curcumin, 17% demethoxycurcumin, and 3% bisdemethoxycurcumin. Although 77% of the curcuminoids found in turmeric are pure curcumin, they only make up a minuscule 2-6% of the turmeric root! Therefore, that ‘cheap’ bag of turmeric will have very little curcumin. To reach an adequate amount of curcumin in your body, you would need to consume five teaspoons of turmeric per day.

The milligrams amount on the label, ideally should read 200mg per capsule, not serving.

Eg: Tumeric extract (95% Curcuminoids) 200mg.

But that’s not all you’re looking for on the label. Here’s an analogy for you. Peas are high in vitamin C (More so than oranges). So imagine we extracted that lovely vitamin C and threw away the peas. Yes, we would have our vitamin C, but we would be missing out on Vitamin A, Calcium, Iron, Vitamin B-6. Magnesium. Not to forget the fibre and enzymes.

It’s similar with turmeric, yes you want the curcuminoids, and yes they come in such a small amount that you want them extracted from the turmeric, but you also want the turmeric root with all its goodness.

Here is where you look back to the supplement label, and you want to see another line saying something like ‘Organic Turmeric Extract (Curcuma Longa) (10:1)’. This tells you that you’re also getting the whole root, sometimes written as ‘Full Spectrum’. But what does the 10:1 bit mean? Remember those supplement elves? They know that you don’t want to be taking ten capsules a day, so they’ve compressed it and made it ten times more potent. 10:1 is the least you should be looking for on that label, and always with the whole root part, make sure it is organic. The milligrams you should be looking for (Curcuma Longa) is the equivalent of 2000mg. So if it is 10:1, it would say 200mg.

But it does not end there. Curcumin has low bioavailability in humans, so your supplement should include Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) to help absorption.


How much black pepper?

When studying the label, you may see ‘Piperine,’ followed by a percentage. Piperine is the active ingredient in black pepper that helps with absorption. It also has many other benefits. Black pepper has between 4% and 9% Piperline; therefore, 20mg of Black pepper would have between 0.8 – 1.8 mg of Piperline. But if you have Piperline 95% on you’re label (that’s what you’re looking for) then that 20mg would be 19mg of Piperline, not 1.8mg, which is quite a difference.

So how much should you look for in your product?

Approx. 10mg of Piperine or 200mg of Black Pepper.

Often with Turmeric supplements, you get what you pay for, but not always. Here is a recap.

Does the label have both Curcuma Longa (whole root) and (95% Curcuminoids)?

Are the amounts of this per capsule enough? (200mg 10:1 whole root) and 200mg 95% Curcuminoids.

Label example