Turmeric bioavailability is a key factor that’s almost always ignored when consuming this popular spice for its health benefits.
Turmeric is gaining in popularity and for good reason! The yellow pigment found in turmeric, which is also responsible for the majority of its medicinal properties is called “curcumin.” Study abstracts from the National Library of Medicine’s bibliographic database shows over 600 potential health benefits of turmeric, and/or its primary polyphenol, curcumin.
While adding turmeric to your diet is a sure way to boost your overall health, there are a few things you need to know as well as as how to improve turmeric bioavailability.
Turmeric’s Key Nutrient Isn’t Easy To Absorb
As mentioned previously, curcumin is the active compound you want to absorb from eating turmeric. However, a big problem with turmeric is that curcumin isn’t easily absorbed (1).
Various animal and clinical studies reveal that the concentrations of curcumin in blood plasma, urine, and peripheral tissues, if detectable at all, are extremely low regardless of dosage size (2). And low absorption rate will not give you the health benefits of this medicinal food.
How To Skyrocket Turmeric Bioavailability
Fortunately, there are simple kitchen strategies that you can use to boost turmeric bioavailability.
1. Always Mix With Black Pepper
Black Pepper is a powerful medicine in its own right and a Potent Turmeric Adjuvant.
“If people are given a bunch of turmeric curcumin, within an hour there’s a little bump in the level in their blood stream. We don’t see a large increase because our liver is actively trying to get rid of it. But what if the process is suppressed by taking just a quarter teaspoon’s worth of black pepper? Then you see curcumin levels skyrocket. The same amount of curcumin consumed, but the bioavailability shoots up 2000%. Even just a little pinch of pepper—1/20th of a teaspoon—can significantly boost levels. And guess what a common ingredient in curry powder is besides turmeric? Black pepper (3).”
One Study entitled: Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers demonstrated that when piperine was co-administered with curcumin and given to human subjects the bioavailibity of curcumin increased 2000% (4).
2. Add a Healthy Fat to Turmeric
Turmeric needs to be combined with a fat in order for your body to fully absorb it and experience its amazing health benefits.
When eaten with healthy fats, such as coconut, ghee or olive oil, curcumin can be directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system thereby in part bypassing the liver.
This is very important because less curcumin is exposed to metabolic enzymes and remains in a free form allowing it to stay in the body longer (5).
3. Heat Increases Turmeric Bioavailability
“The potent ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which, despite its power, is not easily absorbed by the body without assistance. This is where the sauté pan and a little warm oil come into play,” Dr. Sukumar explains.
“I use it [turmeric] in every sauté, just a quarter teaspoon, a half teaspoon is enough. But you don’t have to use it sparingly – use it lavishly.”
“The better way to take it, I feel, is to use it in your cooking very extensively. If you have any sauté, just sprinkle it in. The moment you heat oil and add turmeric to it, it now becomes completely bioavailable to you.”
To maximize the effectiveness of the turmeric you’re eating always make sure to do these 3 things:
- Activate turmeric by heating it up.
- Boost turmeric’s absorption by 2,000% by combining it with some freshly ground black pepper.
- Mix turmeric with a healthy fat to bypass the liver.
Dosage guidelines according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (6):
- Cut root: 1.5 – 3 g per day
- Dried, powdered root: 1 – 3 g per day