Curcumin supplements made from the turmeric root have become very popular these days.
One of the main reasons is because they’ve been found to help reduce the severity of medical conditions like inflammation and arthritis in certain clinical studies.
But not all brands are the same, due to big differences in the potency of turmeric’s active ingredients (AKA the curcuminoids).
In this review article I’ll share what I think are currently among the best curcumin supplements on the market today, in terms of manufacturing quality, potency & purity.
After hours of going over published research studies using turmeric supplements, I can pass along this common theme among all of them:
It is critical that the turmeric supplements we take contains sufficient curcuminoids in order for us to receive any health benefits.
Note before we get going:
Turmeric supplements — like other herbal supplements — can interact with certain medications, so if you’re taking any prescription drugs you definitely need to get your doctor’s approval before adding a turmeric curcumin product to your daily routine.
The brands on this “best turmeric supplements” list have been third-party tested
All of the turmeric supplements discussed in this article have been third-party tested to verify that their labels accurately reflect how much curcumin is in the product.
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.
Best Turmeric Supplement program note
This 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 curcumin supplements that use the absorption-enhancing black pepper extract;
* my top pick using the patented Meriva® curcumin phytosome formula.
Here’s a list of them:
Best turmeric supplements in 2021
Last update on 2022-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
I’ll be sharing all of the relevant product information I gathered for each of these top turmeric supplements, and we’ll be looking in detail at their:
- Supplement Facts labels
- Curcumin amounts
- Curcuminoids* potency
- Other ingredients
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 turmeric 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;
- fight free radicals;
- anti-inflammatory benefit;
- rheumatoid arthritis relief;
- fight some types of heart disease;
- help regulate blood sugar levels;
- supporting our immune system.
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
All these encouraging benefits are being tested by medical researchers a lot more than many other dietary supplements; I take that as a good sign.
What’s the ideal turmeric product?
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 when you consume turmeric curcumin.
Just any old yellow powdered turmeric won’t cut it, and there are literally hundreds of those littering every product search you land on after typing in turmeric or curcumin:
To help dial all that in, let me now share a few tips on how to understand a turmeric curcumin Supplement Facts label, so you’ll know how to spot a product that’ll work.
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 dietary supplements these days, given the word is now out on what nutrition science has uncovered as far as curcumin’s health-improving properties.
And not surprisingly perhaps, marketing claims promising amazing health benefits are all over the place regarding turmeric now too.
However, many of these products provide no benefit to you, with some manufacturers no doubt banking on you seeing the word “turmeric” and the familiar orange-yellow powder and figuring you’ll think all turmeric capsules are about the same as far as quality goes.
Well, after reading this article you’ll easily tell the difference between a high quality turmeric 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.
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 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-orange powder in turmeric capsules that’s also the 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 turmeric 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.
Labeling of turmeric extract
If there’s an extract in the turmeric supplement, there’ll be a byline that mentions it on the Supplement Facts labels, 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 active compound known as 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 choosing a turmeric 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 turmeric 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.
The best curcumin supplements have bioavailability enhancers (like BioPerine & others)
Here’s the lay of the land from well-informed researchers regarding trying to get your maximum benefits 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 an extract made out of black pepper 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.
Four of the turmeric 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®)
Know the right curcumin dosage
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 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 turmeric & curcumin “must-knows”:
* The amount of curcumin you’re taking — NOT the amount of turmeric — determines if what you’re taking is strong enough to provide you with any of the benefits you’ve heard about.
* Extract from turmeric 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 amount of curcumin you’re getting.
Here’s a turmeric supplement with the extract standardized to 95% curcuminoids:
And so the turmeric (often listed as turmeric root or powder) you see listed in the supplement is a far less important ingredient.
Here’s that score again:
Extract 95, 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 daily 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
In this brief section before the turmeric supplement reviews, I’ll be sharing what the effective clinical dosages for curcumin are for typical “standardized to 95% curcuminoids” extract of turmeric.
(This info applies to the vast majority of turmeric supplements, but 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 money on a turmeric 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:
500 mg of 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 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 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 to provide anti-inflammatory beneift 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 turmeric 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.
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.
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 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.)
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.
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.
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®
*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
Here are my top two made with BCM-95®
3rd party verified curcumin per serving: 412mg
*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⭐
Curcumin per serving: 500mg
*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⭐
Here’s my top pick from the Meriva® products
Curcumin per serving: 191mg
*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⭐
Here are the three best “regular” curcumin supplements
Curcumin per serving: 800mg
*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⭐
Curcumin per serving: 1102mg
*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⭐
Curcumin per serving: 1000mg
*2nd highest dose available: 1000mg
*Piperine is the absorption enhancer
*Very highly rated by buyers – 4.6⭐
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. A lot better than many other popular dietary supplements for sure.
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:
- anti-inflammatory properties
- ability to relieve arthritic discomfort
- antioxidant protection
- fight free radicals.
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 shows anti-inflammatory properties
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)
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 displays antioxidant properties
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.”
Research studies with turmeric and oxidative stress
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant 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 supplements 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)
Curcumin used in cancer treatment?
An old cliché from way back when that was sarcastically used to describe the latest “hot product” was
“They say it does everything — it even kills cancer.”
Well, turmeric has tested on its ability to treat cancer
…adding to the list of good things turmeric supplements could 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.
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)
Related turmeric articles here on heydayDo
I hope that my review article on the best turmeric 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.