In 2012, Statista reports that the supplement industry generated approximately $32 billion in total sales.
However, that number is expected to almost double in size by the year 2021, with estimated earnings of $60 billion anticipated globally.
Though these numbers represent all supplements combined, one nutrient that some people are beginning to look at more closely is turmeric. This brings about the question of what exactly this particular substance is, as well as how much one should take to obtain positive effects.
What is turmeric?
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) explains that turmeric is “a plant related to ginger” that can be found growing in Asia, Central America, and India. Contained within the turmeric plant are curcuminoids, which are the active compounds in this substance, which is why you often hear curcumin and turmeric used interchangeably.
Historically used for a variety of medical purposes, the NCCIH shares that, today, turmeric supplements are generally taken to help individuals prevent and/or treat conditions related to arthritis, gastrointestinal issues, cancer, and other health issues. But turmeric can also be ingested dietarily as it is one of the main ingredients found in curry powder and is responsible for its yellowish color.
Turmeric dosage recommendations
How much turmeric should one take if consuming it in supplement form? According to some of the nation’s top experts, the exact amount depends largely on the reason it is being taken, or the condition that you’re trying to prevent or treat.
For instance, if you take turmeric to help with the pain, inflammation and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis, the Arthritis Foundation suggests that you take 400-600 mg capsules three times a day. Or, if you take it in powdered form, you shouldn’t exceed a total of 3 grams. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, the recommendation is 500 mg twice daily.
When taking turmeric for greater heart health, some research studies have been conducted to help determine how much is necessary for positive benefits. One such study was published in the American Journal of Cardiology and it found that patients who took four grams of curcuminoids daily, both prior to and immediately after coronary artery bypass grafting, had lower incidences of heart attack as the curcuminoids created a protective cardio effect.
Turmeric has also been deemed beneficial for brain-based diseases such as Alzheimer’s. In this case, the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Alzheimer Translation Center suggests that the best dosage amount depends on whether you already have this type of disease and, if so, how far it is progressed. If using turmeric as a preventative, UCLA stresses that 80 mg daily is likely enough. However, if the disease has progressed, 125 mg of curcumin may create a more positive effect.
Either way, UCLA recommends that intake be increased slowly and, because it takes approximately 10 days for this supplement to accumulate in your body’s tissues, amounts should be increased or decreased no more often than this week-and-a-half timeframe.
Furthermore, turmeric supplements are best absorbed on an empty stomach, waiting an additional 60 minutes after taking it before consuming any foods. Turmeric may also affect your ability to sleep, so taking it earlier in the morning may be better than taking it too close to bedtime.
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) also warns that taking high supplemental doses of turmeric over long periods can hurt more than help. Specifically, they can irritate your digestive system and, “in extreme cases,” possibly even give you ulcers.
Additionally, individuals with gallstones, obstructed bile passages or diabetes should consult with their physicians before taking turmeric supplements. The same is true for those taking the following medications as turmeric can strengthen or otherwise interfere with their effects:
- Blood thinners like Coumadin, Plavix, or even aspirin because turmeric also acts as a blood thinner as well. For this reason, you want to stop taking turmeric a couple of weeks before any type of surgical procedure so you can undergo treatment safely, and without the risk of bleeding that cannot be stopped.
- Stomach acid reducers such as Pepcid, Zantac, Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, and Tagamet as turmeric can actually have the opposite effect when combined with these drugs, increasing stomach acid production versus decreasing it.
- Diabetes medications because turmeric increases the effectivity of these drugs, putting you at risk of low blood sugar, a condition called hypoglycemia.
When to avoid turmeric supplements altogether
Finally, certain people should not take turmeric supplements at all according to the UMMC. This includes women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, though eating foods with turmeric is deemed safe in these conditions.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center adds that you should also avoid taking turmeric supplements if you are taking chemotherapy drugs as lab experiments have found that it can make them ineffective. And if you’re scheduled to undergo any type of testing that involves the use of dyes, you’ll want to stay away from turmeric beforehand then too as it can interfere with the results.