At East 270® we are a large community of people wanting a more simple and healthy lifestyle. Many in our community regularly use turmeric powder and turmeric supplements (curcuma-longa root) to alleviate joint discomfort, reduce blood pressure, and as an all-around antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Many comment through our Facebook page, saying turmeric helps with their arthritis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, etc… We hear everything from, “This is the greatest stuff on earth, can’t live without it!” To, “This doesn’t work at all!”
Why is there such a large variance in results? If you’re one those that have “tried” turmeric and gave up, please read on. There are 3-common mistakes that almost everyone makes when they first start taking turmeric. This article will help you identify and troubleshoot them to make sure you’re getting the most health benefits out of your turmeric supplement.
COMMON MISTAKE 1 – Bioavailability
Without question, the number one most important consideration when taking any supplement is how well your body absorbs the supplement nutrients, and once absorbed, how well your body utilizes those nutrients? This little cat and mouse game is known as “Bioavailability”.
It’s 100% guaranteed, that if your body isn’t absorbing the “good stuff”, you will not feel any benefits. Oddly, many people overlook this when deciding on a supplement. Turmeric is not something your body absorbs well, which is why people that add turmeric powder directly to their diet usually don’t feel like it’s doing anything.
What about utilizing what is absorbed? Turmeric loses out again. Your body is very good at getting rid of the small amounts of turmeric that you do absorb. That’s called rapid metabolism, and funny enough, rapid elimination.
That’s why turmeric is said to have a very “low bioavailability”.
Many people incorrectly assume that they can pile on the turmeric, the more the better, and instantly start to feel the benefits. Not so. Adding huge quantities of turmeric to your diet is likely going to result in only two things; an upset stomach, and cause you to be very, very regular… if you catch my meaning.
As a medical report from the National Institute of Health states, “Ingesting curcumin (turmeric) by itself does not lead to the associated health benefits due to its poor bioavailability, which appears to be primarily due to poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid elimination.”
Ingredients That Increase Bioavailability
The two most popular ingredients used to help increase bioavailability are black pepper and a patented brand of piperine called Bioperine®. When choosing a turmeric or curcumin supplement, double check the Supplement Facts panel for one of these two ingredients. Without them, you are throwing your money away on a product that, not only won’t work, it physically can’t work.
East 270® products use Bioperine® to help increase bioavailability. Like black pepper, Bioperine® helps with absorption, but that’s where the benefits of black pepper end. Bioperine® goes one step further by slowing down how quickly you metabolize and eliminate turmeric. If you’d like to better understand the role black pepper and Bioperine® play in helping turmeric be more bioavailable, check out our article “click here” on understanding bioavailability.
COMMON MISTAKE 2 – Turmeric vs Curcumin
I mention the “good stuff” several times. What do I mean by that? If you don’t know, you are totally forgiven. Many people don’t know that the active ingredient in turmeric is actually curcumin. Turmeric is loaded with other healthy ingredients like iron, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin E, fiber and vitamin B6, but it’s the curcumin, or more accurately, the curcuminoids in the turmeric that do the heavy lifting as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Here’s the rub. According to the Livestrong website, and this statement is fairly universal give or take a percentage, “Turmeric contains approximately 2 percent curcumin by weight, so a tablespoon of turmeric, which weighs 6.8 grams, contains about 0.136-grams curcumin, or 136 milligrams.” Cindy Pineo Oct 3, 2017.
By The Numbers
To put that into supplement terms, if you have 700mg of pure turmeric:
- Only 14mg of that 700mg is the “good stuff”
- Without some help, low bioavailability cuts the 14mg by 75%.
- 14mg X 25% = 3.5mg of curcumin
In short, 700mg of turmeric without black pepper or Bioperine® only yields 3.5mg of “good stuff”. As if that isn’t bad enough, your body will metabolize and eliminate all 3.5mg by the time you eat lunch (assuming you took your turmeric with breakfast).
That’s not a lot of bang for your buck. Paying $10.97 for a 240 capsule bottle of just turmeric root powder may seem like a really good deal, but it is more like throwing your money into the toilet (ha, ha pun intended) than it is likely to offer any benefit. It’s no wonder people going this route are likely not feeling anything. There’s just not much there.
What To Watch For
Here’s a Supplements Facts panel from a random company on Amazon. Unfortunately, this product probably doesn’t work well. Because of its super low price point, I’m sure many people think they are legitimately “trying” turmeric. Same goes for the folks that add only turmeric root powder to their diet.
Now we know that without any curcumin listed (usually in the form of 95% curcumin extract) or either of the two ingredients that help with low bioavailability, this 100% turmeric root powder supplement just doesn’t have much for the body to absorb and utilize.
What To Look For
Look for a reasonably priced supplement, because this assumes some basics about quality since higher quality ingredients typically cost more. Look for 95% standardized curcumin extract (curcuminoids), some turmeric root powder (more on this in a follow-up article), and at least one of the two bioavailable friendly ingredients, black pepper or Bioperine®.
For example, East 270®’s top of the line Curcumin Plus has all three key ingredients; a good amount of 95% curcumin extract, a good amount of turmeric root powder (again more on this in a follow-up article you don’t want only curcumin IMO), and Bioperine® to help with absorption and retention.
COMMON MISTAKE 3 – “Load” Your Body
When your computer is loading a website, you typically have to wait for the download to finish before you can view the information on the website. In very much the same way, your body has to “load” up on turmeric and curcumin before your likely to feel any of the health benefits. That’s why people that add turmeric to their diet once or twice a week don’t typically feel anything (outside of the other issues discussed above). Because turmeric and curcumin are so easily metabolized and rapidly eliminated, taking turmeric intermittently just doesn’t work.
Turmeric Supplements Don’t Act Like Drugs
Many of us associate supplements and the results we expect from our supplements, with the other forms of pills and capsules that we take for various reasons. For example, Tylenol® or Aleve®. Have a headache? Maybe your back hurts? Take two Aleve® and you’ll start to feel better within the hour. Fever? Take two Tylenol® and it will help to immediately knock your temperature down. This is how most of us expect our dietary supplements to work.
At least with turmeric and curcumin supplements, and many others like vitamins and minerals, you have to toss the idea that you’re going to “feel” something different within the hour, day, or even week completely out of the window. Personally, it was almost 45-days of regularly taking Curcumin Plus before the arthritic pain in my right shoulder subsided enough for me to exercise again.
Suggestion – Take Regularly
If you’re going to start taking turmeric or curcumin, make sure that you take it regularly. With the challenge of absorption, metabolization, and rapid elimination it stands to reason that if you don’t “load” your body consistently with turmeric or curcumin you’re likely just wasting your money.
Because it can sometimes take several weeks for the effects of turmeric and curcumin to take place, many people actually forget how they felt before. I’d suggest before you start a regiment of taking a supplement, journal a bit about how you feel over the next few days. Write it all down (by the way, your smartphone is a great tool for this). Check your journal again 45-days after you’ve started and see if the aches and pains have subsided. For me, it comes and goes, but overall I feel much better and my shoulder is much more mobile. If I hadn’t taken some “feeling” notes before I started, I would have gradually gotten used to where the aches and pains had graduated, and probably not noticed how much Curcumin Plus was helping.
There you have it! 3 common mistakes that we regular folks make when “trying” a turmeric or curcumin supplement. Please feel free to comment with any questions or future post suggestions. Enjoy!