When I tell patients about curcumin, the first thing that they ask is if they can just take turmeric. I encourage patients to cook with turmeric if they enjoy the flavor, but it is difficult to get enough curcumin from this spice alone. By weight, turmeric only contains about 5-7% bioactive curcumin.
The second question patients often ask is what dose they should be taking. The answer is that the recommended dose is dependent on the patient’s condition. The recommended dose may range from 500 mg daily for overall health to 1000 mg twice daily for arthritis or dementia.
Patients sometimes tell me they are already taking curcumin and want to know if what they have is a good product. After reviewing the label, my usual answer is no for several reasons:
2. Conventional curcumin supplements do not absorb very well. They don’t dissolve in water. Without adding anything to increase absorption and bioavailability, even 1000 mg of curcumin does not significantly raise blood levels of curcumin.
3. The most common supplements people show me that advertise enhanced bioavailability contain Bioperine. Bioperine is the brand name for a black pepper extract and was one of the first absorption enhancers. It increases the absorption of curcumin in the intestines and allows more free curcumin to enter the blood. However, trials showed enhanced absorption of curcumin with Bioperine used 20mg/kg of Bioperine with the curcumin. For an average 70 kg male, this would amount to 1400 mg of Bioperine. Yet, most supplements I have seen containing Bioperine contain 10-15 mg per serving. Not enough to make a difference!
Other brand names of enhanced bioavailable curcumin include Meriva, BCM-95, and CurcuWin. These and the formulas we recommend at IPM can be more expensive than what is typically found at the health food store or online, but the quality and potency is far superior.
-Martha Wittenberg, MD, MPH
4 Hughes 175 Irvine, CA 92618 Tel. (949) 600-5100