Testing of common curcumin supplements shows major issues in quality, potency, and contamination.
Curcumin, the compound in turmeric that makes it yellow, has been used for thousands of years for its many medicinal properties. It is anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, helps heal wounds, and has been implicated in cancer treatment. For these reasons, the market for curcumin is going up, up, up. But the flip side of this popularity is that it attracts unscrupulous actors to come in to try to cash in while cutting corners on quality.
NOW Foods conducted quality testing of 23 brands of curcumin purchased on Amazon.com. They found that 12 of 23 products failed either for potency, contained synthetic curcuminoids, heavy metals, or used gelatin caps instead of the claimed vegetable caps. Most concerning is the presence of heavy metals, where the average total heavy metals per product were 525 percent higher than NOW’s curcumin products. Testing was performed both at NOW’s lab and at a third party lab. Four of the 23 brands were spiked with fossil fuel-derived organic carbon.
You can look at the brands tested by now in the company’s press release.
Note that curcumin has low bioavailability. Black pepper, which contains piperine, can help: Research shows that combining the piperine in black pepper with the curcumin in turmeric enhances curcumin absorption by up to 2,000 percent.