Curcumin is one of the biologically active ingredients found in turmeric, which is an herb or spice in the same family as ginger.

The active components of turmeric can be divided into two basic groups: curcumin-like compounds known as curcuminoids, and turmeric oil. Turmeric contains a large variety of compounds including curcumin, curcumol, turmerin, zingiberene, turmerones, and turmeronols.

Curcuminoids are a group of compounds that give a yellow to orange color to turmeric.
The three primary curcuminoids in turmeric are curcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, and demethoxycurcumin.
Curcuminoids have natural antioxidant activity and are responsible for turmeric’s unique color.

The Amount of Curcumin in Turmeric
Curcumin is one of the bioactive phytochemicals found in turmeric.

Curcumin-like compounds (curcuminoids) in turmeric make up approximately 2-6% of the plant. Curcuma longa or yellow turmeric contains a mixture of 80% curcumin, 18% demethoxycurcumin, and 2% bisdemethoxycurcumin.

Raw or whole turmeric has a low concentration of curcumin, so concentrated extracts are best if you’re looking for specific results.

Bioavailability of Curcumin
Curcumin in turmeric has low bioavailability meaning it’s not easily absorbed (depending on the form, patented forms are better absorbed) and is excreted from the body fairly rapidly.

Curcumin has an estimated half-life of 6-7 hours and is rapidly excreted from the body.

To increase the absorption of curcumin, one can take it with black pepper (piperine) or bioperine (a standardized extract of piperine). Piperine found in black pepper has been shown to increase the absorption of curcumin by up to 2000%.

Also, since curcumin is fat-soluble, taking it with some fat will increases its absorption.

For the greatest benefit, it’s best to consume turmeric with fat and a little black pepper for optimal absorption, or look for specialized formulations in the supplemental form that increase the bioavailability of curcumin such as Longvida®, Theracurmin®, or HydroCurc®.

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