Curcumin is perhaps the biggest buzzword in holistic health these days, and it’s no wonder. As one of the strongest antioxidants found in nature, curcumin has the potential to significantly slow the aging process and restore youthful energy.
It almost sounds like science-fiction, right?
If you haven’t heard about curcumin before now, click here for a quick rundown.
Curcumin comes from the turmeric plant (turmeric is the signature yellow spice used in many Asian curries). Pronounced ker-CUE-min, it also goes by many different names and spellings, like turmeric curcumin, tumeroc, turemic, termeric, cucurmin, and curcuma longa.
Whatever you call it, the thing that has scientific and medical communities positively abuzz are special compounds found deep within the roots of the plant.
These bioactive compounds are curcuminoids, and they have powerful medicinal properties. They are also reported to have detox benefits for the heart, lungs, and kidneys, protective benefits for the brain and liver, and huge potential as an anti-aging supernutrient.
In fact, curcumin could be one of the most effective nutritional ingredients in the world.
There are just two problems: potency and bioavailability. Many curcumin supplements either contain only a minuscule amount of active curcuminoids, or they have very low bioavailability; that is, they cannot be absorbed into the bloodstream in large enough amounts to have any effect.
Now, those are pretty big problems.
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution. But consumers need to know what to look for so they can purchase a curcumin supplement that’s (a) Potent enough to be effective, and (b) Bioavailable enough to deliver benefits.
So without further ado, here are the top 5 things you should look for to improve curcumin bioavailability:
1. Tetrahydrocurcuminoids (also spelled tetra-hydro curcuminoids).
Those bioactive curcuminoids we mentioned? Tetra-hydro curcuminoids are ultra isolated curcuminoid extracts that are 250x more potent than regular curcumin. Think “extract of an extract,” that’s what makes them so powerful.
2. Standardized to 95%.
Some curcumin products only contain a minuscule amount of active curcuminoids. Even products that claim to “include 95% curcuminoids” may only sprinkle a small amount into a proprietary blend. Steer clear of products that don’t want you to know just how much of their ingredients are active.
3. Co-formulated with a healthy fat.
Curcumin is a fat-soluble nutrient and it needs to be taken with fat to be bioavailable and absorbed into the bloodstream. Coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil are decent options, but if you can find a product that’s formulated with powerhouse omegas, such as black seed oil, you’ll not only increase the bioavailability of curcumin, you’ll be getting all the benefits of the black seed oil, too.
These are compounds that increase the bioavailability and absorption of nutrients. A plant extract called AstraGin has been proven to increase the absorption of curcumin over 90%, without side effects. Black pepper extract (also called piperine or bioperine) is another popular bioenhancer that is commonly added to curcumin. However, in some people black pepper can cause GI upset and in extreme cases can ulcerate the stomach lining.
5. Softgel encapsulation.
Combining curcumin with a healthy fat requires special encapsulation in a softgel — capsules and tablets won’t do. Look for vegetarian softgels, although admittedly these may be hard to find since they require specialized technology and are expensive to produce.
Make no mistake, there are products out there that claim “maximum absorption”: buyer beware. Only supplements that meet all five requirements for bioavailability can actually deliver curcumin’s outstanding benefits from the bottle to your bloodstream.