Solgar Full Spectrum Curcumin is not your typical turmeric supplement.
And in this review article I’ll share my detailed evaluation of it, as well as my research on the patented formula that sets the Solgar Full Spectrum Curcumin apart from the hundreds of orange-powdered competitors it has in the crowded turmeric supplement market.
Solgar curcumin’s secret sauce
NovaSOL® is name of the unique curcumin extract that Solgar is using in their Full Spectrum Curcumin products.
(They now have 3 supplements with NovaSOL in them.)
Chemically, this formula is built much differently than typical curcumin extract supplements that come with a combo of turmeric powder & turmeric extract that’s been standardized to 95% curcumin.
I’ll get into the info I came across on NovaSOL in the Ingredients section of the product review.
Product review outline
In my humble but subjective opinion, deciding to swallow a particular substance or not on a regular basis is worth some consideration on my part before plunking down any money on it.
So I do a fair amount of due diligence when evaluating a fitness supplement, and I’ll dig into several of its components to see what’s up beyond the marketing smoke. 😉
In this review I’ll discuss my recent findings on Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin, and these are the product areas I’ll be going over with you:
- Supplement Facts / Ingredients
- Monthly cost vs. competitors
- Buyer ratings
- Dosage strength
- Manufacturing quality
- Company background
Science resources included
As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science and medical resources, clinical studies, & nutritional data used in this article.
Before we go rolling in the deep details about Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin supplement, I have a couple of things I’ll be sharing with you beforehand.
Review Synopsis reveal
I’ll give you a brief ‘sneak peek’ summary of the main points from my product review, and I’ll be expanding on these main takeaways later on o’ course.
How Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin is different
The other thing I want to touch on ahead of the product review gist is the distinction between the active ingredient in Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin vs. what’s in the majority of those 2,000+ turmeric curcumin products you saw in that Amazon listing earlier.
So I’ll go over what the typical curcumin supplements have in them as well as what the big challenge to their effectiveness is, and how that contrasts with what Full Spectrum Curcumin is all about.
Solgar Curcumin review summary
* Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin consists of one ingredient, the patented formula NovaSOL®.
* Peer-reviewed research found that curcumin with NovaSOL had bloodstream bioavailability 185x greater than typical curcumin extract.
* Full Spectrum Curcumin has great buyer ratings from over 2,000 reviews across the internet.
* Solgar is an American company that enjoys a solid reputation as a maker of high-quality supplements, and has been around for over 70 years.
What’s in a typical turmeric curcumin supplement
Here are a few examples of what the ingredients are in the vast majority of turmeric curcumin products you’ll come across.
As I noted earlier, there’s a boatload of turmeric supplements being marketed at us these days, and I can’t claim to have checked the Supplement Facts labels on all of them.
But I’ve read a bunch — at least 30 to 40 of the bigger sellers — so I think I have a pretty good handle on the most popular ingredient configurations you’ll commonly see.
I lumped them into the following four categories:
- turmeric root powder + turmeric extract (in powder* form);
- turmeric extract + root powder + black pepper extract;
- turmeric extract alone (powder*);
- any one of those three types with another random ingredient thrown in.
*powder – You may see the word ‘extract’ and think of a liquid tincture kind of thing, but almost all of these are in capsule form since the extracts have been made into powder.
Once in a while you’ll find a curcumin extract combined with a type of oil — say, fish oil — and so the manufacturer will use a softgel instead of the see-through cellulose capsule.
Solgar does this for their Full Spectrum Curcumin because of the NovaSOL liquid inside it.
1. Turmeric powder + turmeric extract powder
Before turmeric’s popularity exploded, I think this 2-ingredient configuration of root powder plus some extract powder was the most common curcumin supplement type, and that may still be the case.
A few years before that it had been just plain ol’ turmeric root powder, which by comparison to concentrated turmeric extract is much lower in curcuminoids, the active ingredient we’re all hoping to benefit from. (1)
Root powder + standardized extract as a duo is still being made by lots of manufacturers, and it’s usually (or ought to be) the cheapest form you’ll come across these days.
Of late I’ve noticed a lot more supplement makers are adding an absorption enhancer made of black pepper extract to this one-two turmeric punch, which we’ll look at next.
2. Turmeric extract + root powder + black pepper extract
This curcumin supplement recipe might be the most common one now, and it’s that traditional root powder & extract combo paired up with black pepper extract.
In case you don’t know this already, the black pepper extract is added specifically to improve the abysmally poor absorption job our bodies do with curcumin. (2)
BioPerine® is a patented piperine (the active compound in black pepper) brand that many turmeric curcumin supplement makers use, since there’s published research showing BioPerine improves curcumin absorption 20-fold (by 2000%). (3)
Occasionally you’ll come across a curcumin supplement that just uses a generic black pepper extract, but the “2000% better” research behind BioPerine is a marketing selling point that companies like to point out on their labels:
3. Turmeric extract (without root powder)
You can still get turmeric extract in a tincture like in the good old herbal store days.
But the powder-filled capsules are more popular and why not: they don’t taste gnarly like concentrated liquid does, and they’re pre-measured for easy pill popping.
Supplement companies ditching the root powder entirely isn’t a shock either, once you learn that turmeric root powder only has 3-5% curcuminoids in it while turmeric extract that’s been “Standardized to 95% curcuminoids” is um…95% curcumin. (4)
That curcumin disparity of 95% vs. 3% between extract & root powder, plus the lousy absorption issue we’re dealing with, leads to products like this one.
…given the word’s getting out that a plain turmeric extract product is way better with black pepper than without, BioPerine® is showing up in the Ingredients more often recently too. (5)
4. Turmeric plus something else
And the final type of turmeric curcumin product you’ll commonly see will be any one of those three we just looked at with another supplement added to it.
For my example Supplement Facts label I picked one with ginger because that’s the supplement I see combined with curcumin the most.
Other ingredients I’ve come across:
*1 MD’s CurcuminMD Plus pairs their Longvida® curcumin with the anti-arthritic Boswellia extract;
*Walmart’s Spring Valley supplement brand makes a Cognitive Health Turmeric Omega product that joins Longvida curcumin with fish oil.
These compared to Solgar’s curcumin supplement
Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin has only one ingredient in it, that formula named NovaSOL® I mentioned at the beginning of the article.
I’ll dive into the science on how it works more in the Ingredients section, but for now let me say that NovaSOL’s formula supposedly allows it to avoid the obstacles that limit the effectiveness of those typical turmeric curcumin supplement types I went over.
Why many ‘regular’ turmeric products don’t provide benefits
Here are the main issues that get in the way of a curcumin supplement being able to provide us with the health benefits we’ve heard or read about:
*Dosage is too low –
Effective clinical doses of the typical “standardized to 95%” curcumin extract range from around 950 mg to 1500 mg of curcumin per day (6).
Not 1500 mg of turmeric powder, like you might see advertised…but curcumin.
Remember, turmeric powder’s only 3% curcumin, so 1000 mg of root powder is only 30 mg of curcumin…
…and that’s a looong way from 950-1500 mg.
When I took a close look at the top 20 or so best-selling turmeric curcumin supplements across the internet, I found only a handful that actually were made with clinically-effective doses.
*No absorption enhancer –
Even with all the info that’s starting to make it to the mainstream public about curcumin’s absorption issues…
some turmeric curcumin supplements still don’t add an enhancer to help the curcumin make it out of our digestive tract & into our bloodstream.
Our liver ‘tags’ things like drugs & other foreign invaders like curcumin, and this tells our body to not allow its absorption & to flush it on out of town. (7)
And the active black pepper compound piperine works by temporarily blocking that process, hence the people that make BioPerine® being able to show clinical results of 20x better curcumin absorption with their black pepper product.
So you can see that plain curcumin extract doesn’t stand much of a chance to do anything good for us, since our bodies have this defense mechanism set up that’s already severely limiting curcumin’s bioavailability.
Solgar Full Spectrum Curcumin review
Okie dokie, let’s turn our attention to the main attraction.
Here again are the areas I’ll be going over:
- Buyer ratings
- Current monthly cost
- Supplement Facts / Ingredients
- Manufacturing quality
Solgar buyer ratings
Across the board, vitamins & supplements made by Solgar are very well-liked by their customers.
I share more info on Solgar the brand & company a little later on, but here’s a quick glance at buyer ratings from a few of their products:
The 4 1/2 to 5-star ratings go on for rows & rows of Solgar products too.
So it’s not surprising that their Full Spectrum Curcumin supplement has above-average ratings with close to 2,000 written reviews across the internet.
The ⭐ rating you see I calculated after compiling all reviews from Solgar’s major online retailers, and there are a handful besides Amazon: iHerb, Vitamin Shoppe, Walmart, Vitacost et al.
And the % sign you see represents the percentage of buyers who gave Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin product a 4 or 5-star rating.
You can click on the pic or product name to see buyer reviews & current price.
4.6 ⭐ 87% 4 & 5-star ratings, 1,950+ buyer reviews
Current monthly cost
I’ll share what prices I see today as I’m writing this, keeping in mind they change often online these days.
One interesting thing though >> the prices for Solgar’s curcumin are exactly the same at Amazon, Walmart, Vitacost, & iHerb.
(I’m trying to think if I’ve ever seen that before…)
I think it speaks to the power of the Solgar company & brand that all these major supplement retailers are charging the same price — down to the penny — for each of the Full Spectrum Curcumin sizes.
It comes in three quantities: 30, 60, & 90 capsules, and I see Amazon is selling optional two-pack bundles for all three sizes…but offers no discount for buying them vs. two singles.
The 90-count has the best cost per day
You save $3.75 for your “second thirty” if you go for a 60-count over the 30-count bottle.
And the 90-count bottle will save you $5.62 in month 3 vs. the 60-count price, and a little over 11 bucks compared to buying three 30-count bottles.
60-count: $41.24 ($20.62/month)
90-count: $56.24 ($18.75/month)
Full Spectrum Supplement Facts
Here’s a look at the Solgar Curcumin’s Supplement Facts label.
Full Spectrum Curcumin comes in a Softgel since the NovaSOL® compound & the curcumin it holds is in liquid form.
Serving size is one pill, and here’s how big it is:
Note the low curcumin amount compared to regular turmeric supplements**.
You can glean from the Supplement Facts label that the curcumin extract has been standardized to approx. 83% curcumin (40 mg ÷ 48 mg = 83%)*.
* – However, Solgar claims on the product packaging it’s been standardized to 95% — which I’ll show you in a bit.
** – Much less curcumin than typical turmeric extract products
I evaluated a few dozen regular (non-special formula) types of curcumin extract brands in doing research for my article here on heydayDo, 7 Best Curcumin Supplements with the Curcuminoids We Need.
Look at the amount of curcumin in my Top 3 Picks and contrast that with Solgar’s:
So that’s 1102, 1000, & ~800 mg of curcumin vs. 40 mg in Full Spectrum Curcumin.
And this all goes back to what I was sharing with you in the section on absorption & bioavailability difficulties our bodies have with curcumin.
These are all well-established, high-quality supplement makers and you can see they made the decisions to:
- go with a serving size that is within the range of effective clinical dosages;
- make sure there’s black pepper extract in it, so it may as well be the one BioPerine makes.
Solgar goes in a different direction
Being as large & successful as they are, I think Solgar could’ve put out a typical turmeric extract product like these brands did.
Start with a high dose of 95% Standardized curcumin, chuck some BioPerine in it, and they’re good to go.
I’ve no doubt they would compete very well in the crowded turmeric supplement market with a product like that.
After all, look at everything else they sell: high ratings, lots of customers.
But they decided to take a shot with this cutting-edge formula NovaSOL®, which I’ll share some facts on & weigh in on in the Ingredients section next.
Full Spectrum Curcumin Ingredients
Here’s a look at the Ingredients list off the Supplement Facts label:
Note that you don’t see the word NovaSOL® anywhere, just Solgar’s own name for their product, Full Spectrum Curcumin.
My random guess for why that is: Solgar paid a decent-sized license fee to the makers of NovaSOL®, perhaps to use the formula in their own facilities & make their curcumin product with NovaSOL technology in it themselves.
Or maybe they just paid them enough so that they weren’t required to show the brand name NovaSOL in their ingredients list.
Full Spectrum Curcumin = two ingredients
And those ingredients are polysorbate 80 and a turmeric extract that Solgar says has been standardized to 95% curcumin**.
I discuss the polysorbate 80 in detail in just a sec.
** – Where does Solgar say the turmeric’s been standardized to 95%?
That information isn’t stated on the Full Spectrum Curcumin product page on the Solgar website, nor is it mentioned on any of their retailers’ pages, including Amazon’s.
And I would’ve missed seeing it if I didn’t read the side panel of the box the bottle I bought came in; here ’tis:
One odd random thing: if this “standardized to 95%” statement is accurate, then Solgar’s math up on that Supplement Facts label we looked at is wrong.
I figure the “95%” is correct, since almost all curcumin extracts are standardized to 95% nowadays.
The math on the Supplement Facts label — 48 mg of curcuminoids providing 40 mg of curcumin — only comes out to 83% (40/48).
NovaSOL’s in it (hint: it’s the polysorbate 80)
In any event, we know Solgar’s licensing the NovaSOL formula because they reference the NovaSOL clinical study that the inventor of NovaSOL ran where the phrase “185x better bioavailability…” originally came from.
Here’s an excerpt I grabbed from that study done back in 2014:
And here’s what Solgar then says on their Full Spectrum Curcumin product page on their site (& everywhere else they’re selling it):
Solgar mentions NovaSOL once on the Full Spectrum Curcumin page, but you have to click open Additional Product Information to see the hidden drop-down window:
Solgar does not have the word NovaSOL on any of their licensed retailer pages: Amazon, iHerb, Vitacost, Walmart, etc.
What is NovaSOL® anyways?
Disclaimer: I have a pea brain when it comes to science stuff, so I may muff this up.
Researching Solgar’s curcumin supplement for this article invariably led to trying to wrap my head around what NovaSOL actually is.
Originally I guessed (mistakenly, as it turns out) that it was a unique type of curcumin formula, along the lines of other patented curcumin extracts I am pretty familiar with:
I spent some time immersing myself in the work being done at Aquanova AG — where NovaSOL was invented;
I also dug through the Google Patent database and read the patent application papers filed by the inventor of NovaSol, Darius Behnam;
And I hunted down every relevant clinical research trial on NovaSOL I could find.
NovaSOL bottom line:
Well, it ain’t made out of curcumin. 😄
It’s a patented type of polysorbate 80, a name you may recognize as an additive to foods & cosmetics.
It’s used in some pharmaceuticals, including flu shots.
Polysorbate 80’s role in foods & cosmetics is as an emulsifier, which simply means it helps unlike things blend together well — like oil & vinegar, powders & water, etc.
NovaSOL’s a unique form of polysorbate 80
NovaSOL’s role in a curcumin supplement is somewhat similar to how polysorbate 80 is used in drugs, with a few added wrinkles.
Like regular Polysorbate 80 that stabilizes drugs long enough to be absorbed sufficiently by our bodies, so too does NovaSOL act as a stabilizer for curcumin’s bioactive compounds, the curcuminoids.
NovaSOL also makes curcumin blend with water
The emulsifier (AKA blending agent) side of NovaSOL helps curcumin become water-soluble by creating what are called micelle structures that wrap around it.
This is important because curcumin is a fat-soluble substance by nature. (8)
Below is a drawing of what a micelle looks like.
And if NovaSOL was used with a curcumin extract like Solgar’s Full Spectrum, the curcumin would be represented by the red balls in the middle:
Remember curcumin’s absorption problems? Or more precisely, our body’s problem with absorbing it?
Part of that problem is because curcumin is lipophilic, meaning that it dissolves better in fats/oils than it can in water.
And what’s the old saying, “Humans are 70% water“.
This makes it real hard to get through the cell walls of our digestive system & become bioavailable* in our bloodstream.
bioavailability* – This is a medical term meaning the extent to which a drug or compound can enter our system’s circulation and thus become able to do its thing.
Here’s a short (70-second) video demonstrating just that, NovaSol with curcumin on the right vs. plain curcumin extract on the left:
An animated look at water vs. fat-soluble in our bodies
Here’s another short (51-second) video from the U.S. distributor of NovaSOL® products, Molecular Health.
It’s demonstrating how the water-soluble nature of NovaSOL allows it to “carry” the curcumin into the bloodstream, whereas the fat-soluble raw curcumin can’t cross the blood-brain barrier, and most of it gets excreted instead of absorbed.
Polysorbate 80 controversy
There’s some scuttlebutt surrounding polysorbate 80’s use as something we ingest, since there’s concern it poses a health risk to us. (9)
Medical opinion weighs in on both sides, as you might expect these days.
Some medical publishing sites are encouraging people to avoid emsulsifiers period, while others point to the fact that it is used extensively in vaccines, flu shots, food, etc., and that in small doses it poses no risk. (10)
Plus the FDA approved it as a safe food additive and has guidelines on its use in this Code of Regulations page.
My 2¢ worth
So I read all the above & much more, including tracking down what research I could find that supported the “polysorbate 80 is bad” sentiment.
It seems all the hubbub stems from one small study that was conducted on mice, who were given doses of either polysorbate 80 or another emulsifier and subsequently developed low-grade gut inflammation.
I found a copy of the full study — it was originally published in the journal Nature Research in 2015 — and you can check it out for yourself right here.
I try to avoid processed additives whenever possible…
…But I don’t do a perfect job because I drink protein powders that may contain artificial sweeteners in them, as well as “more natural” emulsifiers <cough> like soy lecithin or sunflower oil lecithin.
I get the point of the study’s hypothesis and it makes total sense to me: they’re pointing at obesity & metabolic syndrome running rampant in our society & tying it to the proliferation of food additives in the modern American diet.
Makes sense, though some might see that as a stretch unless/until more supporting evidence is found via more peer-reviewed clinical research trials.
Still, I’d probably avoid Polysorbate 80 on my own regardless of that study.
I’d do it on general principle since I grow organic food here on my property, I’ve eaten real clean for decades, & I avoid processed crap food like the Plague.
(Well, except for those dang artificial sweeteners. 😉)
My 2¢ on NovaSOL, speaking of studies…
Alrighty then, I’ve shared my whole kit & kaboodle with you from my research into Solgar Full Spectrum Curcumin made with NovaSOL®.
I’ll talk briefly about Solgar and how they handle their business in the final section below (Big Reveal >> they’re solid all the way), but that’s about it for the review.
All that’s left is for me to
mouth off share my thoughtful opinion on this product. 😜
Yay or nay on NovaSOL comes down to this…
…for me, anyways.
I could not find any published, peer-reviewed research using NovaSOL similar to the quantity & quality of clinical studies I have found conducted with Standardized to 95% curcumin with black pepper extracts, or with the unique formula Longvida®.
There is the one clinical study I referenced earlier — “The oral bioavailability of curcumin from micronized powder and liquid micelles is significantly increased in healthy humans and differs between sexes”.
That’s the one where researchers found NovaSOL had 185x greater bioavailability, and they measured blood samples to determine that.
185x better, that’s great. But…
…I can’t find any studies done on it (a NovaSOL + curcumin product) where it improved joint pain, reduced inflammation, or provided measurable antioxidant effect.
And that’s unlike the studies you can find on high-dose standardized extracts with piperine in them:
Curcumin extract + BioPerine worked for me
I originally turned to turmeric curcumin supplementation to help me wage war against any joint inflammation, pain, or potential osteoarthritis my 60+ year-old body might deal with.
I found plenty of clinical studies — using those doses I told you about earlier — where curcumin extract + a piperine enhancer did some wonderful things for people facing those issues I was looking at too. (9)
I jumped on it and within a few months of taking a clinically-effective dose I definitely felt less pain & stiffness in any trouble spots.
Longvida® is working for the missus
Then I heard about superior absorption potential from Longvida products, and so I tracked down what I consider the four best Longvida brands.
The amount of Longvida research is growing & encouraging, & we decided to give it a whirl & experiment with it.
(The wife’s a clinical researcher, so it’s not too hard to get her to try something “in the name of science”.)
And when the wife switched off of my high-dose curcumin + BioPerine product to one of the Longvida brands I found, within days her arthritic hip no longer bugged her.
(We think the Boswellia extract in it has something to do with her relief for sure.)
The black pepper + curcumin didn’t do it for her, but the Longvida did.
For me the jury’s still out on a NovaSOL curcumin product, given the lack of concrete evidence of specific health benefits being provided by it.
I could experiment on myself I suppose — no way the wife’s switching now with her hip pain gone…I am not going there.😄
I could give it a try for 3 months or so, since I bought that 90-capsule bottle you see in the picture with Lil Boji.
But I don’t have any sore joints or inflammation issues at present, since my regular curcumin/piperine took care of those over a year ago.
And I’ve sailing along great since, relatively speaking.
About Solgar the company & brand
Solgar — as you can see from their logo — has been making supplements & vitamins for over 70 years.
As I said back at the beginning, their products have very good customer reviews.
They have a lot of products, and those products all have a lot of positive feedback generated by what looks to be a loyal customer base.
This extends well beyond the “Amazon-only” type of company we’re likely to come across these days, given how well-established a company Solgar is.
Their supplements are for sale at every major online supplement retailer: Amazon, iHerb, Vitacost, Walmart, Vitamin Shoppe, etc.
Here’s a sample of buyer ratings on a couple of handfuls of their products:
Solgar touts their commitment to a high standard of manufacturing quality, as you’d expect any supplement company would do.
Their main points that they reiterate across their marketing material are:
- Science-backed formulas
- Responsible sourcing
- Avoid artificial ingredients or fillers**
- Small batch in-house manufacturing
- & a few other generic marketing slogans
** – Sounds good, but the #1 ingredient in this Full Spectrum Curcumin I’m reviewing (polysorbate 80) is artificial…
Additionally in the area of manufacturing, they state their products are made in the USA and are (“whenever possible”):
Third-party testing verification (that I did)
I checked up on ten of Solgar’s popular products with independent third-party supplement testing company, ConsumerLab.com.
Their testing method is to verify that the product’s dosage matches what the label claims, and that the product is free from things like heavy metals, dioxins, sometimes bug legs, etc., depending on what type of supplement it is.
I have access to ConsumerLab’s testing results because I am a paid subscriber of theirs.
Here are the 10 products I looked into, and you can click on their names to check out what specific products they are on Amazon:
Solgar Policosanol (for cholesterol mgmt.)
RESULTS: Give Solgar an A
All ten of these products were approved for their label accuracy, supplement purity, & potency.
Related curcumin articles here on heydayDo
I hope that my review article on Solgar Full Spectrum Curcumin is useful to you, and that the research info on its unique curcumin formula containing NovaSOL® is helpful too.
I wish you well on your fitness journey.