How are Turmeric and Curcumin different? Do they vary? Which is better? Naturopath Emily Macgregor delivers five facts to help cut through the confusion.
FIVE FACTS TO HELP CUT THE CONFUSION
With so many supplements labelled Turmeric or Curcumin and some using both Curcumin and Turmeric on the label, all shouting about being 20, 30 or 46 times better absorbed, it’s not surprising there is a touch of confusion around. As a Naturopath working in the vitamin industry, I believe it’s time to call in some sanity, and offer some basic facts here.
Fact #1 Turmeric and Curcumin both come from Turmeric.
Both Turmeric and Curcumin come from the Turmeric plant root, same as the yellow spice you can purchase from any supermarket. They both have anti-inflammatory properties and also provide digestive support. However the spice in your pantry you add to a curry, won’t have the same levels of active ingredients, and will certainly not be standardised to guarantee potency.
Fact #2 Turmeric and Curcumin are different extracts.
Regarding supplements on the shelf called Turmeric and Curcumin, what is the difference? Curcumin is a refined Turmeric extract containing more “Curcuminoids” which is the active component of Turmeric, responsible for its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The active component (Curcuminoids) in a Turmeric supplement are lower than 95%, and depending on the extract, will contain anywhere between 3-65% active Curcuminoids.
Fact #3 Be wary of “Curcumin” without an AustL number on the label (bottom right hand corner of the product).
All Curcumin supplement products that are listed product with the TGA (our Australian government therapeutic watchdog) must contain 95% Curcuminoids to be able to be named Curcumin.
Fact #4 Turmeric and Curcumin are both hard to absorb.
Because of this fact, vitamin companies will usually add an ingredient or modify the formula in some way to improve absorption. Products that do not address the low uptake of Turmeric, will not be as well absorbed and will therefore not be providing value for money.
Fact #5 Curcumin strength cannot be compared to Turmeric.
The reason for this is that the strength of “Turmeric” varies wildly. A very low grade Turmeric may only contain 3% Curcuminoids, however some extracts contain as high as 65% Curcuminoids. Given that Curcumin contains 95% Curcuminoids, a sweeping claim that any Curcumin product makes about being “30 times stronger than Turmeric” is highly misleading.
I hope this helps clear some confusion, if in doubt ask lots of questions and do your own research. Research not just different products, but also the general benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin, as there have been many clinical trials over the years.
Emily Macgregor is a qualified Naturopath.