Turmeric is a medicinal herb that people have used for centuries for its anti- inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Today, we know it as a flavonoid packed with healthful goodness that you can get through supplements. But turmeric isn’t the most bioavailable herb, meaning that even if you take it, your body might not absorb as much as you need or want.
For that reason, turmeric needs to be combined with the right ingredients to make sure you get the full anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. In short, it’s vital to choose the right turmeric supplement.
Here’s our breakdown of the best available options.
Our criteria for choosing the best supplements
We spoke with Heather Hanks, MS, CAM, a nutritionist and medical advisor at Medical Solutions BCN, and Daniel Powers of The Botanical Institute about how to identify a quality turmeric supplement. Here’s what they had to say.
First, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate supplements as tightly as drugs. To assure supplement quality and safety, both Hanks and Powers suggest looking for third-party certifications and registrations.
“See if the product was made in an NSF-certified facility,” says Powers. The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) is a third-party auditor that inspects manufacturing facilities to ensure that everything follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
“GMP-registered facilities assure that the product contains the ingredients that it claims it does, in the right amount and dosage, and that the product is pure and does not contain contaminants,” adds Hanks.
“It’s important to remember that curcumin (the primary bioactive compound in turmeric) is poorly absorbed in the body unless the supplement has absorption enhancers,” says Hanks. “Black pepper or healthy fats like coconut oil are two of the additional ingredients that help the body absorb turmeric.”
Powers recommends selecting a (certified) organic supplement because “you generally get a higher quality supplement, though you will pay extra.” Among his recommendations are turmeric supplements that are blended with lipids (fats) to increase bioavailability.
Another ingredient to consider combining with turmeric is ginger. Powers explains, “Ginger is in the same family as turmeric and has similar anti- inflammatory properties. It also settles the stomach and aids in digestion.”
The FDA doesn’t make any recommendations for turmeric dosage because, again, it doesn’t regulate supplements as strictly as drugs. However, quite a few studies have been done on turmeric supplements, and most have used doses from 500 to 1,000 milligrams (mg).
Be careful when taking high doses of any supplement, especially if the side effects aren’t well known or studied.
Also, be sure to discuss taking a turmeric supplement with your doctor to make sure it won’t cause any side effects or interact with any medications you may be taking.
Best turmeric supplements
Here’s a closer look at our supplement recommendations, their pros and cons, and where you can buy them.
Thorne Meriva-SF Curcumin Phytosome
- curcumin bonded to phospholipid to aid absorption
- supported by scientific studies
- same effects with smaller dose
Thorne Meriva-SF Curcumin Phytosome is the turmeric supplement Powers recommends. It uses phytosome technology, which includes a plant extract — in this case, curcumin — bound to a phospholipid from sunflower oil to aid absorption.
Researchers in several studies have looked at Meriva as a curcumin absorption aid and found positive results. Many users have found that they experience less pain and inflammation after taking either a 500-mg (2-capsule) dose or a 250-mg (1-capsule) dose. However, results vary from person to person.
This formula is made in NSF-certified and GMP-registered facilities. And while the supplement isn’t registered organic, Thorne says they strive to use organic ingredients as much as possible.
This supplement is on the pricey side, but it may provide similar effects to other turmeric supplements even when you take a lower dose.
Purity Labs Organic Turmeric Curcumin 2,250 mg
- high dose for those who want it
- short list of ingredients
- certified organic
- free of gluten, magnesium stearate, chemical preservative, binders, artificial flavor, artificial color, lactose, and soy
It’s a good idea to be careful when taking higher doses (more than 1,000 mg) of turmeric, mainly because most scientific studies use 500- to 700-mg doses.
But if you want to try a higher dose, Purity Labs Organic Turmeric Curcumin offers a whopping 2,250 mg in 2 capsules. It also has a short list of ingredients, including turmeric and black pepper extract to aid absorption.
This supplement is certified organic and made in GMP-certified, FDA-registered facilities.
These capsules are free of a long list of potentially harmful substances, or at least ones you may be trying to avoid, such as artificial flavors, artificial colors, magnesium stearate, chemical preservatives, binders, gluten, lactose, and soy.
FYI, though: A small fraction of folks who take this supplement experience stomach or intestinal upset.
BioSchwartz Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine 1,500 mg
- free of gluten, soy, milk, egg, peanuts, wheat, sweeteners, GMOs, shellfish, and sugar
- tested for heavy metals
- veggie capsule
- 3 capsules per dose
If you’re vegan, BioSchwartz Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine has everything you want without any of the animal products you don’t. The short ingredient list includes turmeric root, turmeric extract, BioPerine (for absorption), and the veggie capsule.
That capsule is important because it’s free of soy, gluten, milk, egg, wheat, peanuts, shellfish, and sugar. The supplement is GMP-certified and non-GMO verified.
Many users report a marked decrease in pain when taking these capsules. But these are more expensive than other turmeric supplements, and each dose requires 3 capsules, so a single bottle doesn’t last long.
Garden of Life mykind Organics Maximum Strength Turmeric Joints & Mobility
- eco-friendly (certified carbon-free)
- USDA-certified organic
- offers good pain relief
If you’re looking for certifications that support both human and environmental health, the Garden of Life mykind Organics Maximum Strength Turmeric Joints & Mobility tablets are a good option.
They’re USDA-certified organic, certified carbon-free, and certified vegan. That’s a lot of assurances in a single supplement. And users report that this supplement offers good pain relief with regular use.
These tablets also contain fermented turmeric and ginger for added health benefits. Some people find fermented foods easier to digest.
There’s not necessarily scientific evidence to support the idea that fermented turmeric is easier to digest (although it is effective for absorption), but some users do find that it reduces upset stomach.
FGO Organic Turmeric Root Powder w/ Curcumin
- can be added to shakes and drinks
- includes nutritional information
- affordable alternative to capsules or tablets
- doesn’t include mg per serving
- requires an additive to aid absorption
Pills and capsules aren’t the only ways to get a dose of turmeric. FGO Organic Turmeric Root Powder offers a way to add turmeric to your diet without popping a pill. It’s dosed by the tablespoon, and you can add it to shakes, food, or tea.
This supplement is USDA-certified organic and non-GMO certified, which might give you an idea of the quality and processes used to grow the turmeric.
However, if you want to get the full benefits, you’ll have to use the powder with black pepper or a carrier oil like coconut to aid absorption. And the nutritional information for this product doesn’t mention how much turmeric you get in each serving.
Horbaach Turmeric Gummies
- includes ginger to aid digestion and calm the stomach
- easy to take
- good flavor
- requires 3 gummies for full dose
- contains added sugars
- must take with food to aid absorption
In case tablets and capsules aren’t your thing, Horbaach Turmeric Gummies combine turmeric and ginger in a vegan gummy. They’re made in GMP-registered facilities, and the formula is free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, milk, lactose, and soy. However, it does contain added sugars, though they’re not artificial.
The combination of ginger and curcumin can help keep your stomach calm. Many users appreciate the flavor and find these easier to take than pills.
But the ingredient list doesn’t include pepper or pepper extract. To make sure your body can absorb the turmeric, it’s important to take the gummies with food (and def add pepper).
Nature’s Nutrition Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine & Ginger
- includes ginger for digestive health
- includes BioPerine to aid absorption
Turmeric supplements can get pricey, but Nature’s Nutrition Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine & Ginger comes at a more affordable price than other capsules.
Each 3-capsule dose contains 1,950 mg of curcumin. The turmeric is paired with ginger for digestive health and BioPerine to improve curcumin absorption.
The formula is made in GMP-certified facilities and offers non-GMO, vegan ingredients. The downside is that, even with the ginger, some users report stomach upset.
What else to look for when choosing a turmeric supplement
We mentioned in our criteria above that it’s important to pay attention to third-party certifications, additional ingredients, and dosage when choosing a turmeric supplement.
But there’s something else to consider as you try to sift through the options: whether you want to go the organic/non-GMO route.
As Powers puts it, “Just like when you go to the grocery store and see seven different kinds of kale (organic, locally grown, conventional), there are many different types of turmeric available.” Therefore, he suggests going organic to reduce the chances of harmful pesticides or other chemicals ending up in the supplement.
Also, consider whether you want supplements that use non-GMO ingredients. If you have food sensitivities or allergies, look for products that are free of eggs, milk, lactose, soy, or any other allergens on your list.
Some turmeric supplements may contain extra phospholipids to help with absorption. If you buy a turmeric supplement without an ingredient to aid absorption, take the supplement with food that contains absorption aids, such as black pepper, sunflower oil, or coconut oil.
The bottom line
The curcumin in turmeric can reduce general inflammation and act as a mild, natural pain reliever. Turmeric is one of the most-studied supplement ingredients on the market, so more background information on side effects and results is available for turmeric than for other supplements.
Still, it’s important to look for a supplement that has third-party certifications and ingredients that help with absorption. And be sure to talk with your doctor about drug interactions and dosage information before starting to use turmeric or any other supplement.
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