Choosing The Best Turmeric (Curcumin) Supplement For Your Needs

There is a wide range of turmeric and curcumin supplements that you can choose from. It is important to fully understand how these different formulations work in order to make the most out of your supplement. Here, you will learn how to choose the right turmeric/curcumin supplement for your health needs.



Turmeric and Curcumin

Turmeric is a well known spice from India that has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. Most of the healing properties of turmeric come from its active ingredient called curcumin and its derivatives curcuminoids

In typical turmeric root we can find between 2% and 5% of curcumin. These are obviously fairly low percentages. That is why consuming unprocessed turmeric doesn’t provide the same health benefits as taking concentrated curcumin powder.

Curcumin Formulations Targeting Specific Medical Conditions

Most well known curcumin formulations on the market are Meriva, Longvida, BCM 95 and Sabinsa C3. Here you will find a brief overview of how these curcumin supplements work; you can read a more in-dept description of each further down in this article.

Longvida has been formulated by scientists at the Alzheimer's center at UCLA and it is specifically focused on brain health and the ability of the active ingredients to cross the blood brain barrier. Longvida maximizes the amounts of free curcumin in the blood (curcumin and not its metabolites have been shown to help with Alzheimer's). It is used for brain diseases like Alzheimer's disease, dementia, stroke prevention and recovery after traumatic brain injury.  

Meriva, on the other hand, increases the blood levels of curcumin metabolites more than the level of curcumin itself. This is significant since curcumin metabolites have been shown to specifically fight inflammation.

Meriva is commonly used for inflammatory diseases like arthritis and other joint pain, uveitis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease. It has also been successfully used for liver conditions and detox.

BCM95 has also been designed to fight inflammation. However, a few comparative studies have shown that Meriva significantly outperforms BCM95 in terms of bioavailability.  

BCM95 includes essential oils of turmeric. These oils have soothing effect on gastrointestinal tract, so BCM95 is often recommended to people who suffer from gastrointestinal problems (such as heartburn, stomach ulcer, GI irritation caused by long term use of NSAIDs etc). Due to turmeric oils, this formulation may also be helpful to people with diabetes type 2.

Sabinsa C3 complex contains 3 different types of curcuminoids. However, C3 complex by itself is not absorbed very well. For that reason, it is commonly packaged together with piperine (black pepper extract). We don't recommend taking supplements with piperine since they may cause adverse side effects.

Theracurmin is a recent type of enhanced formulation that contains curcumin nanoparticles. First studies about the effectiveness of Theracurmin are very promising. There are also quite a few anecdotal reports by people having good results from taking Theracurmin.

4 Main Types of Turmeric and Curcumin Supplements

There are a lot of turmeric/curcumin supplements of the market. We will discuss how they differ in the following section of the article; however, the main difference that we will be focusing on is their effectiveness.

We’ll start with the least potent supplements that contain plain turmeric root powder and conclude with a section on enhanced curcumin - patented curcumin formulations with effectiveness proven in clinical trials.

1. Turmeric Supplements (Made From Powdered Turmeric Roots)

These supplements contain turmeric roots (rhizomes) ground into a fine powder. This is the same type of turmeric powder that is commonly used as a kitchen spice – it is the substance in curry that gives the dish its bright, yellow color.

Lots of people have heard about the diverse benefits of turmeric, so they use it for health reasons. Some take it as a way of maintaining general health – similar as taking a daily multivitamin pill. Others take ground turmeric for specific health conditions, such as joint pain and stiffness caused by arthritis.

The main problem with turmeric supplements is that they contain very small amounts of the active ingredients curcumin and curcuminoids (up to 5% of the turmeric powder).  This in turns means that these supplements are not nearly as effective as turmeric extracts that are standardized to high percentages of the healing ingredients curcuminoids.  

Plain ground turmeric is not a good choice if you need your supplement to provide relief from a specific health condition – it is simply not effective enough.

On the other hand, if you just want to include some additional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support into your daily diet, taking a couple of tea spoons of turmeric per day is a valid option.

Turmeric Capsules and Bulk Powder

Turmeric supplements are available in capsule form and bulk powder; which type you choose depends on your personal preference. Capsules are very convenient; however, powder seems to be more popular. It is generally less expensive and can be taken in a variety of ways.

One of the more popular ways of taking turmeric powder is by mixing it in the so called golden paste. This paste is made up from turmeric powder, water, coconut oil (sometimes replaced by olive oil) and black pepper. The recommendation is to take a couple of teaspoons of the golden paste daily.

Popular turmeric supplements include:

Botanic Choice Turmeric Capsules: Each capsule contains 500mg of turmeric powder; capsules are made from gelatin so they are not suitable for vegetarians.

Starwest Botanicals Turmeric Root Powder: Each bag contains 1 lb of organic root powder. The powder comes from India, but is tested for safety and purity at the Starwest US facility.

Simply Organic Turmeric: This turmeric powder is packaged into glass bottles (2.28 oz. or 67.5 g each).  It is USDA certified organic.

2. Curcumin Supplements (Turmeric Extracts Standardized to 95% of Curcuminoids)

These supplements are also called curcumin supplements as they contain high percentages of curcumin and curcuminoids. They are extracted from ground turmeric roots and typically standardized to 95% of curcuminoids.

Since they contain higher concentration of the healing ingredients these supplements are much more effective than ground turmeric powder. However, they still have one other problem - that is the low bioavailability of curcumin.

It is well known that curcumin is poorly absorbed into blood stream and once it gets there, it is quickly eliminated from the body. This means that only small amounts of curcumin get to target tissues and then they stay there only for a short amount of time – which is not enough to get the healing effects of curcumin.

There are many different ways to improve the bioavailability of curcumin. The most simple one is to always take it with a small amount of fat (coconut oil, olive oil or after a meal with large fatty content). The reason for this is that curcumin is lipophilic – it binds to fat and this increases its absorption.

However, there are other, more reliable methods that work much better for increasing the bioavailability of curcumin. We will discuss these methods and supplements with enhanced bioavailability further on in the article.

Even though supplements standardized to 95% of curcuminoids are more effective than ordinary curcumin, they still have a major problem - low bioavailability. You can try to tackle this by always taking curcumin with fat which increases absorption or - even better – choose one of the supplements that contain special curcumin with enhanced bioavailability.

Capsules and Powders Standardized to 95% of Curcumin

NOW Foods Curcumin Extract: These capsules contain 665 mg of turmeric root extract each. The extract is standardized to 95% curcuminoids. Capsules are suitable for vegetarians (made from cellulose).

Bulk Supplements Pure Curcumin: This is bulk powder turmeric extract standardized to 95% of curcumin. Each bag contains 1kg of the extract (1/4 teaspoon will get you approximately 620mg of extract). There are no added ingredients.

Micro Ingredients Organic Curcumin: This is 95% curcumin extract powder (1kg of powder per bag). This powder is USDA certified organic and doesn't contain any added ingredients.

There are also products that contain a mix of ground turmeric root and 95% curcumin extract, such as NatureMade Turmeric Curcumin capsules and Turmeric Formula by Organic India.

3. Turmeric and Curcumin Supplements with Black Pepper Extract (Piperine)

Black pepper contains a substance called piperine, which is in large part responsible for the pungency of pepper. Piperine is often added to turmeric and curcumin supplements as a way to improve the bioavailability of curcumin.

Piperine works by slowing down hepatic and intestinal glucuronidation, which basically means that it delays elimination of different substances from the liver and gut. This in turns increases the bioavailability of curcumin since higher levels of curcumin get past the liver and stomach.

However, black pepper extract comes with potential side effects. Since it inhibits glucuronidation it also delays the elimination of toxins, other supplements and prescription drugs from the body. This raises the amounts of these substances in the blood to potentially unsafe levels and increases the risk of liver damage – especially if you are ingesting piperine for longer periods of time.

There are also other side effects that may come with the use of piperine. Some people who are sensitive to black pepper extract experience gastrointestinal irritation, pain, and nausea.

Turmeric and curcumin supplements with added piperine should be taken with caution and used only for short periods of time. The reason for this is that they may be harmful on the long run.

There are other supplements available that ensure even better bioavailability of curcumin (backed by comparative clinical studies) without the adverse effects of piperine.

Turmeric and Curcumin Capsules with Piperine

Supplements with black pepper extract are hugely popular since most people aren't aware of the health risks of piperine.

On the supplements' labels, piperine is listed as black pepper extract, piperine or BioPerine (the name of the patented form of black pepper extract – the patent is owned by Sabinsa company, which also produces a patented form of curcumin discussed later on in the article).

All of the supplements listed below contain black pepper extract. Some of them are turmeric root powders, while others are turmeric extracts standardized to 95% of curcumin.

Doctor Danielle Turmeric Curcumin with Bioperine: This is one of the top selling turmeric/curcumin supplements. These capsules contain ground turmeric root and not a standardized turmeric (curcumin) extract - this means that the percentages of the active ingredients overall are extremely small (max 5%).  There are many other products that are a better choice.

Schwartz Bioresearch Turmeric curcumin: These capsules contain a mixture of ground turmeric root (450mg per capsule) and 95% curcumin extract (only 50mg per capsule).  Similar as the Doctor Danielle product above, these capsules are much less effective than products that contain pure 95% curcumin powder.

Popular supplements with piperine and turmeric extract standardized to 95% curcuminoids are:  VitaBreeze Curcumin with PiperineDivine Bounty Turmeric Curcumin and NatureWise Curcumin. All of these products provide 750 mg of curcuminoids per capsule.

4. Special Curcumin Formulations with Enhanced Bioavailability

In recent years, quite a few companies have addressed the problem with low bioavailability of turmeric and its extract, curcumin.  

Piperine was the so-called 1st generation bioavailability enhancer. Nowadays, there are several new, patented curcumin formulations available that work better at improving the bioavailability of curcumin – and they do this without the negative side effects of piperine.  

ENHANCED CURCUMIN SUPPLEMENTS

Enhanced curcumin supplements all have the same goal – improving how much curcumin gets absorbed in the bloodstream and prolonging the length of time it stays in the body and target tissues.  

Enhanced supplements have much better bioavailability than regular curcumin. These are the formulations that are typically used in clinical trials examining how curcumin works for specific medical conditions.

Enhanced curcumin formulations that are currently commercially available are:

  • Meriva
  • Longvida
  • BCM95
  • Sabinsa C3 complex
  • Theracurmin
  • Curcuwin
  • UltraCur
  • Metacurmin
  • Cavacurmin

All of these formulations are discussed in details further on in the article.

Generally speaking, Meriva, Longvida, BCM95 and C3 complex are the ones that are most popular. They have the longest track record and quite a few studies backing their efficiency.

Other, less well known enhanced formulations are Theracurmin (curcumin nanoparticles), CurcuWin (curcumin bound to Polyvinylpyrrolidone), UltraCur (curcumin and whey protein), Metacurmin (curcumin in liquid micelles) and Cavacurmin (curcumin attached to natural oligosaccharides from starch).

Meriva - Attaching Curcumin to Phospholipids (Phytosome Technology)

Meriva is commonly used for inflammatory diseases including:

Osteoarthritis

Uveitis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

MS

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Psoriasis

Other joint pain and stiffness, not related to arthritis

Meriva is formulated specifically to fight inflammatory diseases. It is also commonly used for liver detox and health conditions related to liver damage.

How Does Meriva Work?

Meriva increases the bioavailability of curcumin by using a so called phytosome technology. It is a patented formulation of curcumin, which means it is clinically prepared and not readily available in food sources. The source of phytosome in Meriva is non-GMO soy lecithin.

Since one of the problems when taking in ordinary curcumin is that the body metabolizes and eliminates it quickly, Meriva comes in a time-release form. It releases a steady stream of curcumin in the body, so that everything is not used up at once.

Meriva does this through the phytosome technology. Phytosomes are plant extracts that are bound to phosphatidylcholine (PC) – an important part of human cells. Our bodies naturally create PC, but it can also be taken from the food we eat. PC is absorbed by the body very well.

To help curcumin get absorbed by the body better, Meriva bound it to PC, which has good absorption level. The result is that when you ingest Meriva, your body absorbs the PC and the attached curcumin very well.

The effectiveness of Meriva is backed by a study published in the Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology Journal back in 2007. In this study, they compared the effectiveness of Meriva to that of ordinary curcumin. The result is that Meriva has 5 times higher peak plasma levels than that of unformulated curcumin, and the level of curcumin in the liver was also significantly higher. In a human study, Meriva proved to have 29-times greater bioavailability based on AUC (area under the curve).

In pharmacokinetics, the area under the curve (AUC) is the area under the curve in a graph representing the concentration of drug in blood plasma against time.

The area is calculated starting at the time the drug is taken and ending when the concentration of drug in plasma is negligible.

AUC is used in practice to determine the total body exposure to drug after administering a dose of that drug.

Another interesting result of the study is that Meriva increased the amounts of curcumin in plasma by 20 times, compared to unformulated curcumin. The level of other curcuminoids, which are demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin increased 50-60 times higher.

Patients taking Meriva had more curcuminoid metabolites in their plasma than there was curcumin itself.

Since studies show that curcuminoid metabolites are effective against inflammation, Meriva is commonly used for inflammatory diseases. It is also used for fighting cancer due to curcumin's antioxidant activity. Meriva is also used to lower the risk of heart disease and the negative effects of cholesterol on the body.

Where Can You Get Meriva Curcumin?

Meriva is patented by an Italian company Indena. It can be bough under several brand names that are briefly described below. You will see that these products offer different amounts of Meriva per capsule, so take that into consideration when choosing which one to get.

Source Naturals Turmeric with Meriva: Contains 500mg of Meriva per capsule. The capsule is from gelatin so it is now suitable for vegetarians.

Thorne Research - Meriva-SR: Thorne Research offers 250mg of Meriva per capsule. The supplement can be used by vegetarians and vegans since it doesn't contain any animal by-products (capsule made from cellulose). It is also free from magnesium stearate.

Turmaquik Joint Turmeric Supplement: Turmaquik is a highly popular nutritional supplement that contains 275 mg of Meriva per capsule. It also contains other herbal extracts with known anti-inflammatory properties, such as ginger and boswellia serrata.

Turmaquick also includes black pepper extract that is supposed to increased absorption. This is somewhat strange since Meriva by itself is formulated for enhanced bioavailability. We don't recommend taking any supplement with black pepper extract for more than a few weeks since it may cause several side effects (stomach and colon irritation, delayed clearance of other medications from the body). 

Other popular Meriva Supplements include:

Jarrow Formulas Curcumin Phytosome Nutritional Supplements

Doctor's Best Curcumin Phytosome

Now Foods Bio-curcumin Phytosome (Meriva)

Longvida Curcumin - Liposomal Encapsulation

Longvida is the form of curcumin that works best for brain diseases. It is formulated to cross the blood-brain barrier, so it’s most effective for diseases like dementia, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke prevention and recovery, traumatic brain injury, and so on.

Longvida was formulated by UCLA neuroscientists and Verdure Sciences. It focuses on curcumin’s ability to support neurogenesis, which is the regeneration of brain cells. Curcumin has been proven to increase the levels of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) in the brain. As we grow older, the amount of BDNF in the brain drops, and this contributes to diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin helps prevent these diseases by increasing the amount of BDNF in the brain.

Longvida also takes advantage of curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to protect brain cells. Some brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, may be caused by amyloid-B protein fragments in the brain that cause oxidative stress and inflammation. Curcumin effectively binds with these fragments, which helps stop them from causing plaque between neurons, thus, helping prevent the onset of some brain diseases. In Longvida’s formulation, the brain benefits a lot from curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

How is Longvida formulated?

Since one of the problems in curcumin absorption is that it gets broken down in the stomach quickly, Longvida encapsulates curcumin to protect it from hydrolysis. This patented technology is called SLCP technology – Solid Lipid Curcumin Particle Technology. Through this technology, curcumin is protected from the acid in the stomach, so it gets dissolved at the point of absorption, which is the GI tract. The end result is that higher levels of curcumin get to the target tissues.

Longvida aims to get as much free curcumin into the blood and tissues as possible. The reason for this is that curcumin (and not its derivatives) has been shown to help with Alzheimer’s diseases. Just as a side note – Meriva that is marketed primarily for inflammatory diseases has been shown to raise the levels of curcumin derivatives in blood more than the levels of curcumin itself (these derivatives have powerful anti-inflammatory effects). Longvida formulation also doesn’t contain any turmeric oils, only curcumin.

Experts have tested the effectiveness of Longvida compared to ordinary curcumin. In human studies, they found out that Longvida curcumin is 65 times more bioavailable based on maximum concentration in blood plasma, and is 100 times more bioavailable based on AUC or Area Under the Curve.

Where Can You Get Longvida Curcumin?

Longvida is commercially available under these brand names:

Curcumin, LongvidaTM by Nutrivene: Offers 500 mg of Longvida per capsule (capsules is from cellulose, so it is suitable for vegetarians).

Now Foods Curcubrain Longvida: Contains 400 mg of Longvida per veggie capsule.

Optimized Curcumin Longvida by ProHealth: Contains 500 mg of Longvida per vegetarian capsule. ProHealth also offers Longvida in bulk powder for those who have troubles swallowing capsules.

Other Longvida supplements include:

Optimized Longvida Curcumin By Myodyne

Longvida Optimized Curcumin byVitamin Research

All currently available Longvida supplements contain as added ingredients soy lecithin, stearic acid and ascorbyl palmitate (form of vitamin C).

BCM 95 - Curcuminoids and Essential Oils from Turmeric

This formulation was developed by Arjuna Natural Extracts Ltd from India. BCM 95 contains a mix of curcuminoids and essential oils of turmeric.

Other popular curcumin formulations focus on extracting curcumin and curcuminoids from turmeric. These formulations are marketed as “95% curcumin/curcuminoids.” BCM 95, on the other hand, retains most of the natural oils from raw turmeric roots, which are commonly removed during the purification process.

The reason why BCM 95 retains these natural oils is that some studies have shown that they have gastroprotective properties, which means that they protect the GI mucosa from damage and help heal the gastrointestinal tract. Other studies have also shown that these oils may have some beneficial effects on patients suffering from diabetes 2.

One other major benefit of turmeric essential oils is that they increase absorption of curcumin into the body (since curcumin binds to fat, taking it together with different type of fats improves its absorption).

Based on human studies, BCM 95 has been shown to be 7-9 time more bioavailable than ordinary or non-enhanced curcumin.

Subjects who took BCM 95 showed a peak of curcumin in their bloodstreams within an hour. There was a short dip at two hours after administration, and then a second and higher peak at 4.5 hours. The level of curcumin gradually declined after the second peak, but curcumin was still detectable in the subjects’ blood within 8 hours.

BCM-95 is 100% pure extract of turmeric extract standardized to:

  • Curcumin 
  • Demethoxy Curcumin
  • Bis-Demethoxy Curcumin
  • Essential Oils of turmeric roots

Curcuminoids make up 86% of BCM 95, while essential oils from turmeric roots make up 7-9%.

The essential oils that can be found in BCM 95 are 7-9% ar-turmerone and α-turmerone, and around 50% β-turmerone. Some other essential oils that can be found in it are Ar-curcumene, α-curcumene, Zingeberene, β-sesuiphellandrine,  β-atlantone and Germacrone.

These essential oils are extracted from organically-grown turmeric root using double steam distillation. Solvents used for the process are ethanol or ethyl acetat.

BCM 95 is marketed for inflammatory conditions, but it’s also promoted for its soothing effects on the gastrointestinal tract and possible benefits for people with type 2 diabetes.

Where can you get BCM 95 Curcumin?

BCM 95 curcumin is commercially available under the following brand names:

Life Extension Super Bio-curcumin: Each vegetarian capsule provides 400 mg of BCM95 curcumin.

Terry Naturally CuraMed : Offers 750 mg of BCM95 per 1 softgel. Product contains gelatin, so it is not suitable for vegetarians.

Progressive Labs - Curcumin BCM-95 : Contains 400 mg of BCM95 per vegetable capsule.

Curcu Gel Ultra: Provides 650 mg of BCM95 per softgel (made from gelatin).

Sabinsa Curcumin C3 Complex – Formula with 3 Main Curcuminoids

C3 complex is one of the first patented curcumin formulations that came on the market. It contains 3 main chemical compounds that are collectively known as curcuminoids:

  • Curcumin
  • Demethoxycurcumin (DMC)
  • Bisdemethoxycurcumin (BDMC)

C3 complex is standardized to 95% curcuminoids. The patented C3 formulation has specific percentages of each curcuminoid (within the total 95%).

Even though the formulation provides high percentage of curcuminoids, it is not very bioavailable by itself. To correct this, the manufacturers commonly add black pepper extract, which is also known as piperine or BioPerine (the name of patented black pepper extract by Sabinsa).

A study conducted in 1998 showed that piperine increased the blood levels of curcumin and extent of absorption by 2000%. However, there were only 6 participants in this study. Another issue is that the effects of piperine, didn’t last long. The bioavailability of curcumin increased for only about 1-2 hours, and then the level in serum dropped.

Piperine – as already discussed earlier in the article – comes with potential adverse side effects.  It affects how different drugs and toxins are metabolized by the liver and may cause these substances to build to dangerous levels. This in turn may lead to liver damage. Piperine may also irritate gastrointestinal mucosa and cause symptoms, such as pain and nausea.

For that reason, we don't recommend taking C3 complex with added piperine. You can still try the C3 formula by itself; however, there are other supplements available that are probably a more effective option.

Commercial names for Sabinsa Curcumin

Curcumin C3 complex is patented under Sabinsa. It is sold by several well known supplement brands.

C3 complex (without black pepper extract):

Jarrow Formulas Curcumin 95: Jarrow formula contains C3 complex without any added piperine. It provides 500mg of C3 curcumin per capsule and is suitable for vegetarians (capsule made from cellulose).

C3 complex (with black pepper extract):

Doctor's Best Curcumin C3 Complex: Contains 500 mg of C3 complex curcumin and 3mg of black pepper extract per capsule. Not suitable for vegetarians (capsule made from gelatin).

Viva Labs Curcumin C3® Complex : Provides 500mg of C3 complex and 5mg of black pepper extract per vegetarian capsule.

Nutripure Pure Turmeric : Offers 750 mg of C3 complex curcumin and 5 mg of black pepper extract per vegetarian capsule.

Sports Research Turmeric Curcumin: 500mg of C3 complex and 5mg of black pepper extract per 1 softgel. This product also contains organic virgin coconut oil that is used for further enhancing absorption (curcumin is lipophilic compound, which means that it binds to fat, so taking it together with different types of fat increase its absorption).

Theracurmin – Curcumin Nanoparticles

Theracurmin is one of the more recent enhanced curcumin formulations. Theracurmin is basically curcumin that has been reduced in particle size to the so called nanoparticles and emulsified with polysaccharides derived from gum ghatti.

This small particle curcumin is much better absorbed than regular curcumin. One trial has shown that Theracurmin is 27x more bioavailable than regular curcumin powder (based on plasma levels of curcumin collected over time at 1 to 6 hours after ingestion).

Theracurmin is also easily dissolved and stabilized in water (unlike regular curcumin, which is lipophilic and relatively insoluble in water). It can be taken in beverages, which is especially useful for people who have troubles swallowing pills.

Theracurmin Supplements

Theracurmin can be bought in several brand name supplements. There is some confusion regarding how much Theracurmin these supplements contain as their labels don't follow the same pattern.

So, let's explain these amounts in more details. Theracurmin contains approximately 10% of curcumin.  There are 2 typical doses of Theracurmin that you can get in supplements: 300 mg and 600mg. The former provides 30mg of curcumin and the latter 60mg of curcumin. The rest of the Theracurmin is mainly comprised of gum ghatti, which is used as a solubilizing agent.

Swanson High Absorption Theracurmin: Each veggie capsule contains 300 mg of Theracurmin (providing 30mg of curcumin).

Theracurmin Source Naturals: 300mg of Theracurmin per capsule (providing 30mg of curcumin)

Natural Factors CurcuminRich: These are double strength capsules, which means that they contain 600mg of Theracurmin each, providing 60mg of bioavailable curcumin per capsule (this product has very confusing label – it leads you to believe that the product only has 60mg of Theracurmin per capsule).

CurcuWin - Curcumin in Molecular Dispersion

CurcuWin is a patented curcumin formulation that mixes curcumin with tocopherols (natural antioxidants), cellulose, and polyvinylpyrrolidone (hydrophilic carrier).  It contains 20% of total curcuminoids.

CurcuWin was tested in a study that compared the absorption and bioavailibility of CurcuWin, regular curcumin and 2 other patented curcumin formulations. It has been shown to increase the serum levels of curcumin 46 times more than regular curcumin. It also outperformed phytosome based curcumin - (5.8 fold) and curcumin with volatile oils of turmeric (34.9 fold). The other 2 formulations haven't been mentioned by name in the study, but we can safely assume that the phytosome based is Meriva and curcumin with volatile oils of turmeric is BCM95.

This study was made on fasting subjects. It is well known that curcumin has best absorption if you take it with meal (or at least some fat; for example, Omega 3 fats or other oils). The other 2 formulations included in the study would perform better if the conditions were changed (supplements taken on a full stomach).

One potential problem with CurcuWin is that it uses polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP). This is a water-soluble polymer that is commonly used as binder in many prescription and OTC drugs and beauty products. Even though it is generally regarded as safe, long term nutritional use of PVP has not been studied yet.

CurcuWin is available in supplement form at Amazon: CurcuWin by Relentless Improvement (1 capsule contains 250mg of CurcuWin).

UltraCur – Curcumin Bound to Whey Protein

UltraCur attaches curcumin to whey protein, which then serves as a carrier that delivers curcumin into the body.

The manufacturer Ultrabotanica writes on their website that UltraCur's absorption is about 100 times more than an equivalent amount of regular curcumin. Peak levels in blood are reached within 20 to 40 minutes, which means that it is absorbed very quickly.

UltraCur is soluble in water, so the capsules can be opened and the powder taken in beverages.

There is little research about UltraCur, its action and bioavailability. The product is still undergoing patenting process.

Currently, you can get UltraCur in one supplement: UltraCur Curcumin (60 Capsules). Each vegetarian capsule contains 600mg of UltraCur curcumin.

Metacurmin – Liquid Micelle Curcumin

Metacurmin was developed in Germany. It is produced as curcumin nanoparticles (small sized curcumin), which are protected by lipid micelles.

A 2014 study on bioavailability of Metacurmin has shown that it is significantly more bioavailable than regular curcumin. It is interesting to note that the absorbed amounts were greatly different between women and men. In women, Metacurmin was 277 times more bioavailable than regular curcumin and in men it was 114 times more bioavailable. In this study, Metacurmin also outperformed other enhanced forms of curcumin – Meriva was second best with 29 times the amounts of absorption of regular curcumin.

Metacurmin uses Polysorbate 80 (also known as Tween 80) as an emulsifier that helps create the liquid micelles.  This is a water soluble liquid, often used in food and cosmetic products. It is generally well tolerated and considered safe; still, some people prefer to limit all use of synthetic compounds, including polysorbate 80. 

Possible concern with Metacurmin is that it contains several artificial food dyes (Yellow 6, Red 40, Red 3). The safety of these food dyes is a highly controversial topic - for example, erythrosine, also known as Red 3, has been banned in 1990 by the FDA due to the concerns that it causes thyroid tumors. The ban was later removed.  Another dye found in Metacurmin Red 40 (allura red) contains potentially cancerogenic substances.

Metacurmin Supplements

Metacurmin is in liquid form. It comes in pump and in liquid capsules. The capsules are more precise since they all contain exactly the same amount of Metacurmin (each capsule provides 60mg of total curcuminodis and approx. 50 mg of curcumin).

Metacurmin in capsule form is available on Amazon: Metacurmin Maximum Strength (60 Liquid Capsules)

Cavacurmin

Cavacurmin was developed by the global pharmaceutical company, Wacker (headquarters are in Germany).

Cavacurmin is produced by binding curcumin to gama-cyclodextrin, which is a naturally occurring oligosaccharide (manufactured from starch). This process results in molecular curcumin dispersion with improved bioavailability – a recent study has shown that Cavacurmin has 40 times better absorption than regular curcumin.

Cavacurmin is relatively new and is not yet widely commercially available. 



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Sources and References: 
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  4. S. A. Frautschy, A. N. Begum, D. J. Gant, et al. Efficacy of curcumin formulations in relation to systemic availability in the brain and different blood compartments in neuroinflammatory and AD models, Oct 2009. http://www.abstractsonline.com/Plan/ViewAbstract.aspx?sKey=b57d9ae0-f5e2-43f5-9b8d-82f45103e7fc&cKey=84479a96-7a7d-4ec6-b962-c27364e6f38d&mKey={081F7976-E4CD-4F3D-A0AF-E8387992A658}
  5. Dadhaniya P1, Patel C, Muchhara J, Bhadja N, Mathuria N, Vachhani K, Soni MG. Safety assessment of a solid lipid curcumin particle preparation: acute and subchronic toxicity studies. Food Chem Toxicol. Aug 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21571027
  6. A Pilot Cross-Over Study to Evaluate Human Oral Bioavailability of BCM-95®CG (Biocurcumax™), A Novel Bioenhanced Preparation of Curcumin. B .Antony, B. Merina, and S. Joyal. 2008 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792534/
  7. Shoba G1, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. 1998. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120

Comments (40)

  • longvida curcumin
    By

    AOR makes a few different strengths of optimized Longvida curcumin, depending on what you need to take it for.

    Their CurcVIVA is a great preventative strength with 80 mg of the active ingredient Longvida Curcumin. Most other brands listed do not list the actual active component on their label. AOR is an excellent, quality company from Canada, their products are available in the states.

    Jul 03, 2015
  • CurcuVIVA
    By

    DJ, thank you for pointing this out. CurcuVIVA is indeed a solid option with 80mg of Longvida per serving. It comes in veggie capsules.

    For more information, here's a direct link to it on Amazon page: Advanced Orthomolecular Research AOR Curuviva 

    Apr 20, 2016
  • Best organic turmeric supplement
    By

    Turmeric has got to be the very best anti-inflammatory out there. I supplement with Turmeric every day alongside meals but it is best to make sure the Turmeric you are having is 100% organic and free of fungicides, pesticides or herbicides as many of them area unfortunately.. (the only brand I have come to trust fully is Enagic's UKON Turmeric Supplement which is single-source harvested on the fertile rich volcanic soil of the Blue Zone Island of Okinawa in Japan... their strain of Turmeric is uniquely potent and 95% absorbable by the body unlike standard Turmeric supplements...

    Oct 17, 2016
  • Thanks for the informative
    By

    Thanks for the informative and useful article. One small nit-pick: Jarrow Formulas Curcumin 95 isn't BCM-95, it appears to use C3 Complex.

    Sep 05, 2015
  • Jarrow 95
    By

    Hi J, thank you for your comment. I checked it and you are right. Jarrow 95 indeed contains C3 Complex. I have already corrected the mistake on our site.

     

    Apr 20, 2016
  • Martin
    By

    I've asked the Jarrow 95 manufacturer if this formula contains Piperine and they replied NO, so I'm confused: how can it be a C3 complex formula and not conatin any Piperine?

    I would like to get to the bottom of this because I've been taking Jarrow 95 daily for 3 years now without knowing that it could cause problems in long-term consumption.

    Can someone please tell me whether it's safe to take this formula on a daily basis without any side effects?

    Thank You in advance!
    Chris

    Sep 10, 2016
  • C3 complex and Bioperine
    By

    Jarrow Formulas Curcumin 95 contains the C3 complex formula. C3 formula by itself doesn't contain piperine. However, without piperine it doesn't absorb very well, so many manufacturers add piperine as a way to enhance absorption (in the form of Bioperine also patented by Sabinsa). When this is done, the label clearly states that piperine/Bioperine is added.

    Jarrow Formulas Curcumin 95 is actually one of the few C3 complex supplements that doesn't contain black pepper extract (piperine).

    So, in your case, you have been consuming pure C3 complex. If the product works for you, I see no reason why you should switch to another. 

    Dec 22, 2016
  • Prostate
    By

    What is the best curcumen supplement for the prostate?

    Nov 12, 2015
  • Curcumin herbs
    By

    Curcumin supplemens provide your daily requirement of vitamins ans mineral. It is also best herbs to fight cancer cells and provide relief from joint pains. They are also effective in helping reduce the unwanted fats from your body. 

    Apr 22, 2016
  • Curcumin for prostate health
    By

    Curcumin is beneficial for prostate health due to its anti-inflammatory effects and because it is a rich source of antioxidants, so I think that any curcumin formulation with good bioavailability would be a good choice.

     

    There have been few studies made specifically about curcumin and prostate. The first study examined Meriva and found it effective for reducing the symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23241931).

     

    The second study looked at the effects of Theracurmin on prostate and bladder cancer cells in vitro (test tube study).  This study found that Theracurmin preparation has significant anticancer effects in both androgen-dependent and -independent human prostate cancer cells. The effects in this study were dose dependent - they've seen better results with higher dose (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26718024). 

     

    Theracurmin is a more recent curcumin formulation. It is based on a technology that reduces particle size of curcumin to increase its absorption. You can have a look at a range of these products on Amazon:  Theracurmin

    Dec 22, 2016
  • stroke prevention.
    By

    I have had some minor strokes... Will the longvita help protect from future strokes?

    Jan 22, 2016
  • In Europe, Longvida can be
    By

    In Europe, Longvida can be found under the brand Optim Curcuma: www.optim-curcuma.com

    Mar 03, 2016
  • Meriva and soy allergy
    By

    I allergic to soy, mostly soy protein.  I see that meriva has soy lecithin. Should I steer clear of this product?  

    Mar 26, 2016
  • Soy Lecithin
    By

    Meriva contains phosphatidylcholine, which is derived from soy. However, it is purified so that it does not contain any soy protein. 

    So if you are allergic to ONLY soy protein, you should be fine. Otherwise you should probably look for a different brand.

    Apr 20, 2016
  • Theracurmin HP
    By

    Hello, one of our NDs prescribed Theracurmin HP my Integrative Therapeutics. It's a newer (I believe) sort of technology that doesnt seem to be covered in your post above. Nano-technology that makes the curcumin water soluble. In theory. Are you familiar with this product? Any concerns or hesitations with this technology? 

    May 12, 2016
  • Thyroid
    By

    What is a good upcoming for inflammation in general. I have hashimoto

    May 17, 2016
  • Curcumin for inflammation
    By

    Curcumin is anti-inflammatory substance, so theoretically any curcumin formulation with good bioavailability should do.

    The formulation that has been most extensively studied for its use in inflammatory disorders, though, and has shown good results is Meriva curcumin.

    Dec 22, 2016
  • Which brands
    By

    Hi,

    Great article, but just need some advice when I type in Longvida and bcm-95 theres a lot of different companies that appear selling the products. Im a bit confused as which one to buy. Can you please advise for both brands.

    also im after them for my mum and she suffers from arthritis ands I wanted one formthe brain aswell. But a just bit confused on which one to buy.

     

    thanks

    Jun 04, 2016
  • BCM95 and Longvida Brands
    By

    If you are buying curcumin for brain related issues, I would definitely recommend that you get the Longvida formulation. You can get it from different suppliers: CurcuBrain by Now Foods, Curcumin by NutriveneOptimized Curcumin by Prohealth, and others.

    If you take a look at these products, you'll see that they all include between 400 and 500 mg of Longvida curcumin per capsule. When choosing which product to buy, take into account the following:

    • The supplier/manufacturer (choose a reputable company that tests raw ingredients for heavy metals and microbial contamination;
    • Added ingredients (as few as possible is best; in these products extra ingredients are basically the same, so that’s not a factor here)
    • Price per capsule

    I would go with CurcuBrain by Now Foods as we've had only positive feedback with this company. Also, their testing program is very extensive, so you can be sure that you are getting a safe product (at a decent price).

     

    As for the BCM curcumin… It is great against inflammation and especially recommended for people with gastrointestinal issues (BCM95 contains turmeric oils that have a soothing effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa). Several brands carry BCM95; I can recommend the product by Life Extension Super Bio Curcumin (400 mg of BCM per softgel) and Terry Natural's CuraMed (750 mg of BCM per capsule). Price-wise they are similar if you take into account different amounts of BCM95 that they contain. 

    Feb 02, 2017
  • why are the uses so different?
    By

    I am a bit confused about the different technologies. If LongVida is effective for brain conditions (because its components can cross the blood-brain barrier), does that mean that the other brands (BCM-95, Meriva, and Sabinsa C3) do not? Aren't all of them Curcumin with different or more effective absortion rates? In the end, all brands or technologies should treat the brain, inflammation, arthritis, etc.  Only difference should be one of potency and lenght of time in the body. Or am I completely wrong? Clarification would be greatly appreciated.

    Jun 14, 2016
  • Differences in curcumin formulations
    By

    The primary goal of all these curcumin formulation is to increase bioavailibilty (both how well curcumin is absorbed as well as the length of time that it stays in circulation).

     

    However, there are some differences between them. Longvida was formulated specifically for use in Alzheimer's disease, so they focused on its ability to cross the blood brain barrier. Longvida has also been studied for use in other brain-related issues (for example traumatic injury to the brain). You are right; this doesn't specifically mean that other formulations are unable to get into the brain. Still, Longvida has studies backing its effectiveness in this regard, so I would definitely choose this formulation whenever curcumin is taken for brain health.

     

    As for the others.... C3 complex is formulated with 3 different curcuminoids (hence the name). It is a formulation with specific percentages of each curcuminoid (total percentages of curcuminoids in C3 is 95%), which makes it different from generic curcumin. However, it isn't more bioavailable by itself. To help increase absorption, Bioperine is added. This brings along  new issues (such as intestinal irritation and delayed clearance of prescription drugs from the body). That is why C3 plus Bioperine is not something that I would recommend taking – especially on the long term.

     

    Meriva mixes curcumin with phospholipids to enhance bioavailibilty. It is primarily studied for use in inflammatory diseases.

     

    BCM95 contains turmeric oils alongside curcuminoids. These oils have specific effect on the lining of gastrointestinal tract and are recommended for people that suffer, for example, from gastric ulcers (quite common in those who take NSAIDs for inflammation).

     

    So, there are some differences between enhanced curcumin formulations. At the end, which one you choose depends on your specific reason for taking curcumin.

    Feb 02, 2017
  • Which type of curcumin to
    By

    Which type of curcumin to prevent growth/shrink a pituitary tumor/or cyst?

    Jul 03, 2016
  • Curcumin for Pituitary Tumor
    By

    Curcumin has been shown to shrink pituitary tumors in vitro (tumor cell culture) as well as in mice model.

    Even though pituitary gland is located along the base of the brain, it is outside the blood brain barrier. So, you don't have to consider this as a factor in your decision (among different curcumin formulations, Longvida is formulated specifically for crossing the blood brain barrier).

    However, you need to ensure that you get therapeutic concentration of curcumin to your pituitary. That is why it's best if you choose curcumin formulation that has enhanced bioavailability (such as Longvida, BCM95 or Meriva). Among these, each is a good option (the studies used unmodified curcumin, but it was applied directly to tumor cells, so concentration was not a problem).

    Feb 02, 2017
  • Psoriasis and no gall bladder
    By

    I have purchased some jacksons  tumeric and black pepper capsules but I am now concerned these are not to be taken without a gall bladder.

    please could you recommend something I could take as I have psoriasis as well.

    kind regards

    karen

     

     

    Aug 03, 2016
  • Curcumin and Gallbladder Problems
    By

    Curcumin is not advised for people who have gallstones or bile duct obstruction. The reasons for thsi is that it stimulates the production of bile and makes gallbladder to contract – both of which can make gallbladder problems worse.

    However, if you've had your gallbladder removed, you can safely take curcumin. 

    Feb 02, 2017
  • Tendinitis
    By

    Hello. I am massage therapist and I get inflamed tendens from my work life. Which curcumin, by brand name, will work best for me and my tendinitis? Maybe even type out the website for which I can order it from. Thanks so much!

    Sep 12, 2016
  • Curcumin for Tendon Problems
    By

    Curcumin improves tendon tissue healing and reduces the pain and inflammation caused by tendinitis.

    Any curcumin - regardless of the formulation - will act anti-inflammatory. What you need to look for is curcumin with good bioavailibility, which basically means that you need one of the enhanced formulations.

    Both Meriva as well as the newer formulation Theracurmin have been extensively studied for use in inflammatory conditions. You can get them under several brand names.

    Popular choices for Meriva are Doctor's Best Curcumin Phytosome and Thorne Research Meriva. However, if you take a look at them, you will see that Doctor's Best is generally a better choice price wise – it offers double the amount of Meriva per capsule (1.000mg vs 500 mg) - at a lower price per capsule.

    Theracurmin is formulation with curcumin nanoparticles (curcumin is broken into little pieces and is then better absorbed). Most popular Theracurmin product comes from Natural Factors and it is called Curcumin Rich. Even though Theracurmin has great absorption, you'll note that Curcumin Rich provides only 60 mg of curcumin per capsule (in contrast to Meriva formulations which get you 500mg or even 1.000mg per capsule). 

    Feb 03, 2017
  • Meriva extraction process
    By

    What solvents are used in the Meriva extraction process?

    Sep 21, 2016
  • Solvents
    By

    Meriva doesn't disclose their extraction process in detail. Generally speaking, solvents used for extracting curcumin from turmeric are ethyl acetate and acetone (and sometimes isopropyl alcohol in further processing).

    Years ago, some manufacturers used ethylene dichloride; however, it is now banned from use in all nutritional supplements. You can find some companies that use CO2 extraction; however, these products don't reach high concentrations of curcumin in the extract that are possible with other methods. 

    Feb 03, 2017
  • Curcumin
    By

    This article was somewhat informative, however i am surprised that it doesnt mentio anything about Theracurmin. I have been taking Theracurmin and found it more helpful than the others quoted in this article.

     

    Sep 22, 2016
  • Theracurmin
    By

    When the article was originally written, it didn't mention Theracurmin as it wasn't widely used yet. We have since added Theracurmin (and some other formulations) to the article and you are right - there is some very positive feedback with this product. 

    Feb 03, 2017
  • Sabinsa curcumin C3 complex - no piperine
    By

    Some products based on C3 complex add piperine or bioperine to the Sabinsa curcumin. Some products don't add piperine to it.
    Sabinsa curcumin C3 complex itself does not contain piperine. This can be verified at the company link that you provide in this very useful article.

    I purchase Jarrow's Formula Curcumin 95 which is based on Sabinsa C3 complex and does not add piperine. This product on its own would have a low absorbtion rate.

    Adding piperine to curcumin carries with it the long term dangers mentioned in the article. For cancer treatment using high doses over short periods of time (typically 8 weeks) piperine addition to curcumin standardised to 95% curcuminoids is the method used in many medical studies. For these short and instenive treatments, no problems with piperine side effects have been reported.
    For longer periods of use, addition of piperine to curcumin to increase absorbtion is not the way to go.

     

    Dec 10, 2016
  • Migraines
    By

    Hey! Which form of Curcumin is best to take to help with migraines? Thanks!

    Feb 03, 2017
  • Migraine remedies
    By

    In theory, curcumin would benefit migraine sufferer because it contains lots of antioxidants and has powerful anti-inflammatory action (both of which have been shown to help with migraine). However, there is little research on migraine and curcumin since it is not widely used for this purpose.

    I would recommend instead that you try one of the more established migraine remedies. These include magnesium (in the form of magnesium threonate that is able to cross the blood brain barrier) or the herb feverfew.  Some people also find relief by using another herbal remedy called butterbur. However, if you use this one, make sure that it says 'PA free' on the label (PA stands for Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids, which may cause liver damage if taken on the long term).  There are also migraine supplements that contain a combination of the above mentioned remedies. 

    Feb 06, 2017
  • Meriva or BCM-95
    By

    Hi, Really great informative article. Appears like objective information and not marketing linked to a brand am I correct?

    I have taken BCM-95 some months back, only for a month with no ill effect as I have had fluctuating Crohns(IBD) for 15 yrs or so, mostly been in good shape due to diet and healthy lifestyle but currently have some symptoms of imflamation which could do with some more long term help i.e. Curcumin.

    Meriva looks good due to there focus on Inflammation and re IBD but I see that BCM-95 also helps repair & sooth the Gastro Tract. Maybe your thoughts on this would be helpful. and a recommendation

    My girlfrend also would like to start a course as she having trouble with IBS and foot pain, maybe we can take the same tabs

    Cheers for the Help

    Thanks Adam from OZ

    Mar 14, 2017
  • What about Indena Meriva? I
    By

    What about Indena Meriva? I noticed that a lot of brands use Meriva name for their products. What does it mean? 

    Mar 18, 2017
  • Indena Meriva
    By

    Hi Katarzyna,

    Indena is the name of the company that manufactures the Meriva brand of curcumin.

     

    Nov 06, 2017
  • Update
    By

    i read it since 2015.Thank for the Update for 2017

    Apr 20, 2017

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