7 Best Curcumin Supplements in 2021

It is critical that the turmeric curcumin supplement we take contains sufficient curcuminoids in order for us to receive any health benefits.

In this review article I’ll share what I think are currently the best curcumin products in terms of potency & purity on the market today.

 

Third-party tested

All of the curcumin supplements discussed in this article have been third-party tested to verify that their labels accurately reflect how much curcumin is in the product.

 

 

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Science resources included

As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science & medical resources, clinical studies, and nutritional data used in this article.

 

 

Program note

This “7 Best Curcumin Supplements” article features:

* my top pick from supplements using the patented Longvida® curcumin extract;

* my two top picks from supplements using the patented BCM-95® all-turmeric formula;

* my top three turmeric extract products that use the absorption-enhancing black pepper extract;

* my top pick from supplements using the patented Meriva® curcumin phytosome formula.

 

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Here’s a list of them:

Best curcumin supplements in 2021

1MD CurcuminMD Plus

Vitacost Turmeric Extract Curcumin C3 Complex

GNC Herbal Plus Turmeric Curcumin

Doctor’s Best Curcumin with C3 Complex

Terry Naturally CuraMed Curcumin

Life Extension Super Bio-Curcumin

Thorne Research – Meriva 500-SF

(Blue product names & product pics throughout this review have links to their respective Amazon product pages that open in separate tabs, except for CurcuminMD Plus which goes to the 1MD website, since it is a lot cheaper there than on Amazon. 😉)

 

What’s next

I’ll be sharing all of the relevant product information I gathered for each of these top curcumin supplements, and we’ll be looking in detail at their:

  • Supplement Facts labels
  • Curcumin amounts
  • Curcuminoids* potency
  • Other ingredients

*CurcuminoidsThese are the bioactive compounds within the curcumin that actually provide us with the various health benefits we’re hoping to receive. (1)

 

How to get the right amount of curcumin

In addition to the product reviews, I’ve prepared a section that shows you how to determine the actual dosage of curcumin you’re getting in any of the hundreds of turmeric curcumin supplements flooding the market these days.

 

What are the effective curcumin doses

And later I’ll discuss what the doses were in the clinical studies where the health benefits of curcumin supplementation have been demonstrated several times over.

This will save you from wasting your money on all of the products out there that are diluted with fillers, despite having big numbers and exaggerated marketing claims on their packaging.

 

What actual medical & nutrition science has proven

Finally, I will also share with you several examples from published, peer-reviewed research studies where curcumin has demonstrated effectiveness in a number of areas:

  • Antioxidant protection
  • Anti-inflammatory benefit
  • Arthritic relief
  • fight some types of heart disease

And although very early in the proving stage, curcumin supplementation research has found potential benefits for:

  • improving brain function (including with Alzheimer’s)
  • fighting cancer

 

What’s the ideal turmeric curcumin supplement?

As you’ll learn later (if you didn’t already know)…

…you need to be taking specific ingredients at specific levels of potency if you want to reap any of those benefits that can come with turmeric curcumin supplementation.

Just any old yellow turmeric supplement won’t cut it, and there are literally hundreds of those littering every product search you land on after typing in turmeric or curcumin:

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To help dial all that in, let me now share a few tips on how to understand a curcumin Supplement Facts label, so you’ll know how to spot a product that’ll work.

 

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Turmeric root, where those curcuminoids we want come from…

 

Most common curcumin supplement ingredients

Turmeric and its beneficial curcumin are showing up in all kinds of supplements these days, given the word is now out on what nutrition science has uncovered as far as curcumin’s health-improving properties.

Many of these products provide no benefit to you however, with some manufacturers no doubt banking on you seeing the word “turmeric” and the familiar orange-yellow powder and figuring they’re all about the same as far as quality goes.

 

Well, after reading this article you’ll easily tell the difference between an effective curcumin supplement and a piece of crap, and thus avoid throwing good money down the drain.

😉

 

Let’s start by going over the three most common ingredients you’re likely to come across in anything being marketed as a turmeric curcumin supplement.

Two of these are absolutely essential must-haves — in sufficient quantity too — in order for the supplement to have any chance of providing you benefits.

And one, although the most well-known of the three:

  • is not necessary,
  • is the least important,
  • & provides minimal health benefits compared to the other two.

Since it gets the most press & marketing hype, let’s start with it first.

Turmeric, So Hot Right Now - heydayDo image

courtesy of Paramount Pictures

 

Turmeric root powder

Turmeric root is from a plant in the ginger family whose biological name is curcuma longa.

When the roots are crushed & dried, we end up with the yellow turmeric powder that’s a heavily-used spice in Indian cooking. (2)

 

Not enough of the good stuff

As you’ll learn in a bit, the powder from turmeric has an extremely low percentage of the extremely important curcumin in it (3%).

This makes it impossible to consume enough every day in order to receive ANY of the health improvements that medical science trials have demonstrated.

Still, the orange-yellow powder looks good and helps sell the product, and you may see it in a high-quality curcumin supplement.

But turmeric root powder is not required in order for you to get the adequate daily dose of the compounds that do the work, the curcuminoids.

 

Turmeric extract

Note that the Supplement Facts labels will have a byline that goes with the turmeric extract, saying something like:

“95% Standardized Curcuminoids”

“Standardized to 95% Curcuminoids”

or just “95% Curcuminoids”

 

This is an important distinction.

It is letting you know that this extract has been concentrated to the point where 95% of it is made up of curcumin.

 

Note: It is the curcuminoids within the supplement that provides almost all of the health benefits, NOT the plain turmeric powder that makes up the bulk of the product.

 

95% is the standard (or benchmark) of curcumin concentration that health professionals recommend you insist on when looking for a turmeric curcumin supplement. (3)

And that’s important because our bodies do a really (really) poor job of absorbing curcumin’s bioactive compounds*, those being the ones who have all of the nice health benefits.

* – Reminder > they’re called curcuminoids

 

Black pepper extracts like BioPerine®

Black pepper extracts — like the BioPerine® featured in that video above — are included in many curcumin supplements because it has been shown in clinical trials to improve our body’s absorption of curcumin.

That particular ingredient BioPerine® is a patented extract formula made out of the bioactive compound piperine, which is found in the black pepper fruit we sprinkle on food. (4)

But it’s not included in this supplement for its taste.

It’s here for only one reason: improve our body’s absorption of the curcuminoids that are in the curcumin.

 

Bioavailability of curcumin increased by BioPerine - heydayDo image

And improve it, it does: BioPerine improves our body’s curcumin absorption by 2000%, when 20mg of BioPerine is taken along with the curcumin. (5)

 

Insist on curcumin that has bioavailability enhancers like BioPerine

Here’s the lay of the land from well-informed researchers regarding trying to get your curcumin from just plain old turmeric:

 

“The medicinal properties of curcumin obtained from Curcuma longa L. (the turmeric plant) cannot be utilized because of poor bioavailability due to its rapid metabolism in the liver and intestinal wall.”

 

And on why a bioavailability enhancer like BioPerine — made from the black pepper compound, piperine — is necessary in order to benefit from taking curcumin:

 

“…piperine enhances the serum concentration, extent of absorption and bioavailability of curcumin in…humans with no adverse effects.” (6)

 

 

Fats & oils (phospholipids) increase absorption too

Many supplement manufacturers may not use a black pepper extract to boost absorption of their curcumin, but instead turn to what are known as phospholipids.

These are a type of fat molecule, and several studies have shown that taking curcumin with phospholipids boosts its absorption beyond un-enhanced standardized extract, like the addition of black pepper extract can do.

Four of the turmeric curcumin supplements in this review article use some form of fats to greatly enhance not only absorption, but also the curcumin’s bioavailability throughout our bodies:

  • CurcuminMD Plus (Longvida®)
  • CuraMed (BCM-95®)
  • Super Bio-Curcumin (BCM-95®)
  • Thorne Research (Meriva®)

 

 

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Know the right curcumin dosage

Bottom line 

You have to know the right curcumin dosage(s) or you won’t get all of the benefit — or even any of it — if the product you bought doesn’t have the potency used in successful research trials.

 

Notice I called it curcumin dosage, not turmeric dosage; this is important.

I want to make sure you know what to look for in your turmeric curcumin supplement.

If you don’t understand the importance of correct dosing you may be duped into buying & using a weak product that doesn’t give you enough of the bioactive curcuminoids needed.

The result is wasted money and not as much benefit (if any) that you should be enjoying.

 

Knowing research study dosing is a good thing

Here are a couple of points to consider…

* Research studies using black pepper extract have effective clinical doses that are much higher than most turmeric supplements telling you about their black pepper extract on their packaging & marketing material.

* And studies using unique formulas like Longvida®, BCM-95®, & Meriva® each have their own effective clinical doses, so you’ll want to know those numbers if you’re looking at a supplement using one of those.

 

I share all of that info here in this article, so I gotcha covered. 😉

 

Here are some curcumin “must-knows”:

*The amount of curcumin you’re taking — NOT the amount of turmeric — determines if your turmeric curcumin supplement is strong enough to provide you with any of the benefits you’ve heard about.

*Turmeric extract, if properly standardized, is 95% curcumin while turmeric root powder is made up of only 3% curcumin. (7)

*Therefore, the most important ingredient to insist on seeing & then paying attention to its quantity is the:

 

Turmeric Extract standardized to 95% curcuminoids

Verifying the turmeric extract is standardized to 95% curcuminoids - heydayDo image

 

And so the turmeric (often listed as turmeric root or powder) you see listed in the supplement is a far less important ingredient.

Turmeric root facts - heydayDo image

Here’s that score again:

Turmeric Extract 95, Turmeric Root Powder 3

This therapeutic use of the 95% extract came about because the curcumin inside “regular” turmeric powder is so poorly absorbed by our digestive systems. (8)

You’d have to be eating a turmeric-rich traditional Indian diet 24/7/365 to get even a fraction of the curcumin used in the clinical research trials. (9)

 

 

Curcumin’s effective clinical trial doses

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In this brief section before the curcumin supplement reviews, I’ll be sharing what the effective clinical dosages for curcumin are for typical “standardized to 95% curcuminoids” turmeric extract.

 

(This info applies to the vast majority of turmeric supplements, NOT to the unique formulas like Longvida, BCM-95, & Meriva.)

 

You’ll want to know how much to take every day before you plunk down any moolah on a turmeric curcumin supplement.

Below are curcumin dosage ranges that were successfully used in multiple clinical studies for each of their respective health issues, courtesy of Healthline.

 

For osteoarthritis, inflammation, joint pain:

500 mg of turmeric extract twice daily for 2–3 months.

Assuming its standardized to 95%, then the amount of curcumin per day is:

500mg x .95 = 475mg;   475mg x 2  =  950mg curcumin per day

 

For high cholesterol:

700 mg of turmeric extract twice daily for 3 months.

Assuming its standardized to 95%, then the amount of curcumin per day is:

700mg x .95 = 665mg;   665mg x 2  =  1330mg curcumin per day

 

For inflammation-related skin issues:

500 mg of turmeric extract three times daily for 2 months.

Assuming its standardized to 95%, then the amount of curcumin per day is:

500mg x .95 = 475mg;   475mg x 3  =  1425mg curcumin per day

 

High dosage note from Healthline: short-term only or not?

“High doses of turmeric and curcumin are not recommended long-term since research confirming their safety is lacking.” (10)

 

I’m guessing they’re talking about doses up well above 1000mg per day, since they’re also on record for saying

“For the dosage, (the) Arthritis Foundation recommends 500 milligrams twice a day”. (10a)

 

While verifying that, I discovered that the Arthritis Foundation has a page dedicated to non-drug approaches for dealing with arthritis, which you can read here.

No surprise, curcumin is listed…and the daily recommended dose is indeed 1000mg of curcumin per day.

 

What about curcumin supplements currently available?

Bottom line: A few curcumin supplements are sold with effective doses in a single serving, like 1-3 capsules. Most turmeric supplements on the market now aren’t strong enough to duplicate the successes of the nutrition clinical trials…buyer beware.

😉

I can tell you in advance that all three of the “Enhanced with black pepper extract” supplements I’m reviewing in this article have a daily dose that is within the clinical dosing ranges.

Understand that the vast majority of those hundreds of available turmeric curcumin supplements we saw listed on Amazon & elsewhere these days are much weaker than these clinical doses.

If you bought one of those, you’d have to swallow a lot of pills every day just to hit the effective dose range.

And you’d be paying way too much money for your curcumin.

 

Regarding my curcumin supplement review

My criteria for selecting the 3 “typical” turmeric curcumin supplements (the ones with black pepper extract) was pretty simple:

*they had the highest amount of curcuminoids per serving among the popular products,

PLUS THEY ALSO

*have been third-party tested** for purity & to verify that the amount of curcumin in their product is the same as they claim on their label.

**third-party tested – Independent lab testing conducted by ConsumerLab.com.

 

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One thing to note: Prices keep changing (a lot) nowadays

Like every multi-product review I do here on heydayDo whenever I discuss cost, I’m going with the prices I see today as I’m writing this.

But I can tell you that prices for supplements (& fitness products too) are really bouncing all over the place these days…I’ve never seen anything like it in my nearly 40 years of fitness training.

So you may very well see different prices for these curcumin supplements by the time you do your own comparisons.

 

 

 

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Best Turmeric Curcumin Supplements

Here are individual looks at each of these curcumin supplements.

 

A penny or two of my thoughts

For what it’s worth (2¢ 😄), I had been taking the Vitacost Root2 turmeric curcumin supplement listed in this review religiously for a couple of years.

I believe it did a great job at reducing joint pain caused by my age (61 now) and my weightlifting & exercise programs.

It probably did a great job at other things too, since my health in the two years since my latest heart surgery has steadily improved — and I’d been taking that Vitacost curcumin since I got out of the hospital.

(Though there’s no way for me to measure those benefits like I can regarding joint pain, given the severity of my condition before the successful heart operation. I just feel a helluva lot better then I did back then.)

 

Another self-experiment

My curiosity & research into curcumin’s benefits that has led to this & other articles has recently turned its attention to the curcumin formula Longvida®.

Its recipe using fat molecules to enhance absorption is unique, much different than the black pepper-enhanced curcumin extracts.

As an experiment the wife & I decided to try out Longvida® for at least 6 months.

I wanted to see if I could detect any improvements over what Vitacost’s Root2 has done for me these past couple of years, and the Root2 didn’t help an arthritic issue of hers, so she was open to another formula.

You can read more about our reasoning in the Longvida Optimized Curcumin article here on heydayDo.

So I switched us over from my BioPerine-enhanced Root2 to 1MD’s CurcuminMD Plus about a week ago; we’ll see how it goes & I’ll let ya knowz.

 

Potencies verified

All of the curcumin amounts I list were independently verified by qualified third-party testers (ConsumerLab.com), as mentioned earlier, except for 1MD’s CurcuminMD Plus.

 

Reminder >>

If you want to read buyer reviews on AMZ click the blue names or product pics, except for CurcuminMD Plus, which goes to their website since it’s a lot cheaper there. I do provide the Amazon link too so you can compare…

 

Here is my top pick from supplements made with Longvida®

1MD CurcuminMD Plus

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1MD CurcuminMD Plus supp facts - heydayDo image

Notes

*Uses phospholipids (a type of fat, sunflower lecithin) as the absorption enhancer in the patented Longvida® formula

* This 400 mg dose matches the clinically-effective doses used

* Also contains a clinically-effective dose of Boswellia extract, a proven anti-arthritic supplement

*Very highly rated by buyers – 4.8

*Overpriced by Amazon, cheaper on their website

Check price on Amazon

Check price on 1MD.org

 

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Here are my top two made with BCM-95®

Life Extension Super Bio-Curcumin


3rd party verified curcumin per serving: 412mg

Supplement Facts

Supplement Facts for Super Bio-Curcumin

 

Notes

*Uses phospholipids (type of fat) as the absorption enhancer in a patented formula known as BCM-95®

*Clinically effective doses of BCM-95 range from 500 mg on up

*Highly rated by buyers – 4.8

 

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Terry Naturally CuraMed Curcumin

Curcumin per serving: 500mg

Supplement Facts

Terry Naturally Curamed Curcumin supplement facts - heydayDo image

*Uses the BCM-95® phospholipid formula to enhance its curcumin absorption

*Clinically-effective doses of BCM-95 start at 500 mg

*Very highly rated by buyers, thousands of reviews too – 4.6

 

 

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Here’s my top pick from the Meriva® products

Thorne Research – Meriva 500-SF

 

Curcumin per serving: 191mg

Supplement Facts

Thorne Research Meriva 500 supplement facts - heydayDo image

*Meriva formula uses phospholipids (lecithin) as absorption enhancer

*The 191 mg here just about matches the Meriva minimum clinical dose of 200 mg of curcumin

*Highest rated curcumin (in this review) by buyers – 4.8

 

 

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Here are the three best “regular” curcumin supplements

Doctor’s Best Curcumin with C3 Complex

Curcumin per serving: 800mg

Supplement Facts

Doctors Best Curcumin Supplement Facts - heydayDo image

Notes

*Cheapest curcumin cost as of today

*3rd highest dose available @ 800mg (avg.) among the “regular” formula supplements

*BioPerine is the absorption enhancer

*Very highly rated by buyers across the internet – 4.7

 

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Vitacost Root2 Curcumin

Curcumin per serving: 1102mg

Supplement Facts

Vitacost Root2 C3 Curcumin supplement facts - heydayDo image

Notes

*2nd cheapest curcumin cost as of today on Amazon, cheaper from Vitacost directly

*Highest dose available @ 1102mg

*BioPerine is the absorption enhancer

*Very highly rated by buyers across the internet – 4.7

 

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GNC Herbal Plus Turmeric Curcumin

Curcumin per serving: 1000mg

Supplement Facts

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Notes

*2nd highest dose available: 1000mg

*Piperine is the absorption enhancer

*Very highly rated by buyers – 4.6

 

 

 

Blooming Turmeric plant - heydayDo image

A turmeric plant (Curcuma longa) in bloom.

 

Curcumin & curcuminoid research

Curcumin & its bioactive curcuminoids now have a solid & growing body of positive research evidence, thanks to its impressive showing in clinical trials in several different therapeutic applications.

I’m sharing a only little bit of that here, but there is way more medical & nutrition information available on the benefits of curcuminoids than I’m covering in this article.

And what I am sharing is good, real good.

 

Put simply, when used with the correct doses of the correct ingredients, a curcumin-based supplement can improve the quality of life for someone in a few key disease-related areas.

 

 

Curcumin’s fitness benefits

This blog here on heydayDo.com is about my “fitness after 50” journey, and that journey centers mostly around my strength training and my nutrition choices.

So I’m most interested in the good things curcumin provides that help that journey along, specifically its:

 

Curcumin provides health benefits too

Beyond fitness benefits there are a number of other areas where the science research has demonstrated health improvements provided by curcumin / turmeric supplementation, and I will include a couple of those biggies too.

 

If you need some science reading material to help you doze off…😄

…the blue number links that follow the research study title open a separate tab to one of the clinical studies that has studied that particular curcumin benefit.

 

Curcumin is anti-inflammatory

Medical authorities consider chronic inflammation to be at the heart of many (most?) serious health problems found in our culture today, thanks to our diet & lifestyle.

Multiple studies have shown that curcumin can effectively fight inflammation of all kinds found in our bodies.

 

Here are the titles of a couple:

Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma Longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. (12)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ… (13)

 

Turmeric roots freshly dug up from the earth - heydayDo image

Curcumin reduces arthritic pain

Arthritic joint pain can really get in the way of us older people who want or need to exercise, exercise we have to do to slow down our body’s aging process. (14)

Curcumin to the rescue again, as it has been demonstrated many times that curcumin supplementation can reduce arthritic issues:

 

A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. (15)

Product-evaluation registry of Meriva®… for the complementary management of osteoarthritis. (16)

 

Curcumin boosts your antioxidants

Oxidants here on planet Earth do one thing really well: they make things age & decay fast, whether it’s a car rusting, your face’s pretty looks, or your body tissue weakening.

As the old song says

“Time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for me.”

 

Well, curcumin has shown that it can at least slow the effects of the free radicals that cause oxidation, and in turn help us fight off disease & the aging process better. (17)

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. (18)

On the antioxidant mechanism of curcumin. (19)

 

Curcumin boosts brain function hormones

It looks like it’s in the early stages of research, but I did find evidence of curcumin’s antioxidative & anti-inflammatory power having a positive effect on brain function.

One such application I came across was in the clinical research paper The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview. (20)

The study noted that Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease, and that curcumin has shown it

“improves the cognitive functions in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease”

by weaving its antioxidant magic.

 

Curcumin can help fight heart disease

According to the World Health Organization, for the last 15 years heart diseases are responsible for the most deaths in the world every year.

I bring that up as a lead-in to the research that’s been done with curcumin and its potential effect on heart disease.

The antioxidant & anti-inflammatory benefits curcumin provides have shown the ability to protect & improve certain heart functions. (21)

And a study of coronary bypass patients found that curcumin supplementation reduced the risk of heart attack by nearly 60%. (22)

 

Young turmeric (curcuma longa) rhizomes - heydayDo image

 

Curcumin helps kill cancer cells

An old cliché to sarcastically describe some new gizmo was

“They say it does everything — it even kills cancer.”

 

Well…

…adding to the list of good things curcumin can do for us is a belief that it might have the potential** to kill certain types of cancer cells in humans.

Multiple clinical trials testing curcumin in this area found it had the ability to reduce cancer growth, development and spread at the molecular level”. (23)

 

**potential – Most of the cancer studies thus far have used lab animals, not humans, so the jury is still out (for me anyway) until they demonstrate strong evidence on human cancer.

 

Here are a a couple of examples of curcumin’s success against cancer cells.

Phase IIa clinical trial of curcumin for the prevention of colorectal neoplasia. (24)

Curcumin and cancer: an “old-age” disease with an “age-old” solution. (25)

 

 

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Wrapping Up

Related curcumin articles here on heydayDo

All About BCM-95…

4 Best Longvida Optimized Curcumin Brands

 

I hope that my review article on the best curcumin supplements is useful to you, and that the sections on understanding curcumin labels & the research results regarding the health benefits of curcuminoids are helpful too.

I wish you well on your fitness journey.

Let’s go.

– greg

November 2020

 

<< Fitness Supplements Page

 

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About Me

heydayDo author Greg Simon
Hi I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. Surfer. Organic food & wine grower. Guitarist & music producer. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far).

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About heydayDo

heydayDo is my “fitness after 50” website that’s about embracing the physically active lifestyle as we get older.
 
It’s an information-sharing, personal opinion blog of mine.
 
(So if you’re looking for medical or nutritional advice, hit up your doctor or health professional for that. I’m just shootin’ the breeze here…) 
 
heydayDo began as a daily journal I kept as I recovered from the latest of many heart operations I’ve had to deal with since birth. 
 
I have a deep interest in learning about nutrition & fitness, and applying it to improve my quality of life.
 
I believe this knowledge can help me be the healthiest & strongest version of me as I can, even in the face of inborn heart disease.
heydayDo author Greg Simon at 60 (Jan 2020) original

The 60-year-old version of me, January 2020

So when I get curious about something, I’ll dig into whatever sports science & medical facts there are on the topic to learn what’s real & what’s hype.
 
Here on heydayDo I share what I’ve learned from my fitness, health, & nutrition experience and research with whoever drops by.
 
Oh, and by the way…
 
…I don’t get free stuff from any of the companies whose products I review here on heydayDo.
 
Amazon pays me pennies (1¢ – 4¢) on the dollar if you click on their product link & buy it, and I use that money to keep my heydayDo website up & running.
 
Best of luck with your health & fitness goals!