In order to find the best curcumin supplement in 2020 for bodybuilding and athletic supplementation, I took an in-depth look at the absorption technology from several manufacturers. Technologies must be applied to curcumin supplements because of their poor absorption. Improved absorption creates a great product for bodybuilding and athletic supplementation.
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Curcumin supplements have numerous benefits, including sports nutrition benefits. However, there is one BIG problem with curcumin. The absorption is flat out terrible. Using straight up tumeric, which is a powder that contains curcumin, is pretty much useless unless you consume a tremendous amount. And by a “tremendous amount”, I mean about 10 to 20 grams per day of pure turmeric powder. That is about 4 tbs of turmeric powder. Dietary supplements that contain only curcumin without improved absorption technologies are pretty much worthless as well. That is how BAD the absorption is. The human body, during the digestion process, renders curcuminoids pretty much inactive. As a matter of fact, even if a person consumed huge amounts of tumeric powder, blood serum levels of curcumin (unmetabolized) do not exceed low micromolar concentrations in humans.
The image below is a screenshot of the best selling curcumin supplements on Amazon.com. Out of the 8 below. Six of them do not use any absorption technologies, they only add Bioperine, which is just an OK method to help increase the absorption. Bioperine is extremely cheap to buy. So the profit margin is barely effected. One of the product does not even use Bioperine, which in my opinion makes it worthless. Number 8 uses absorption technology.
Therefore over the past couple of decades, numerous manufacturers have attempted to improve the absorption of curcumin using various methods. In this article, I will go over the best curcumin supplements in 2020 that utilize various technologies in curcumin absorption.
What Is Curcumin?
Commonly known as “curry powder,” curcumin is from the turmeric plant and is a native of India. Humans have used this plant or many ailments and health reasons. Its use dates back to over 4,000 years. Curcumin can be used for cooking as a spice or for food coloring.
Turmeric powder is made from the rhizomes (roots and stems). They are harvested and then boiled in alkaline water. The dried roots are then ground to a yellow powder, which tastes bitter-sweet. Curcumin is found in the turmeric powder naturally. The powder is then further processed to eliminate microbials and packaged for human use. The manufacturers then distribute the powder for use in things such as dietary supplements.
Traditional Uses Of Curcumin
Keep in mind, and I know you are more interested in the sports nutrition application as much as I am but bare with me as I go over the traditional benefits of curcumin.
Beginning with its use in India, the native people used it for the treatment of cuts and bruises. They even used it as sunscreen and antibacterial uses. But most often, it was used as an anti-inflammatory agent. The people of India practice Ayurvedic Medicine and use it for the following:
- liver disorders
- treat sprains and swelling
- blood vessels for improved circulation
- abdominal pain
- stimulate bile flow
- treat jaundice
- treat peptic ulcers
- pain and inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis,
Why Is Curcumin So Poorly Absorbed?
Turmeric powder is poorly absorbed because of several reasons. The first reason and main problem with the powder is that it is poorly soluble in water, which increases absorption difficulty. The second reason is turmeric powder rapidly decomposes at pH levels above neutral, which in turn makes very low intestinal absorption. Finally, curcumin is metabolized by the microbiota in the gut.
The Absorption Problem Solved
To solve this absorption problem, curcumin manufacturers, over the years, have developed several curcumin products with improved absorption. Products with names such as Curuwin, Novasol, BCM 95, and more. Each one possesses its own unique improved absorption technology. Whether it is adding ingredients, special processing, or proprietary methods that are patented, make no mistake about it, a curcumin supplement that can survive the human digestive process exerts powerful effects. In order to experience these powerful effects, the curcumin powder must be delivered int the form of a dietary supplement. This article will cover the top 10 curcumin supplements found on the market. On a side note, curcumin has several sports nutrition benefits; therefore, the reason I wrote this article. Sports Nutrition is my main focus.
Curcumin is a Helluva Bodybuilding Supplement
The more I research the substance curcumin, found naturally in tumeric, the more I am convinced that bodybuilders, athletes, joe weekend warriors, and anyone wanting less fast and more muscle, it should be in supplemented their diet. As you will see below, I cite the research for each sports nutrition benefit. Curcumin has several potentially powerful benefits to bodybuilders and athletes. The research is the proof, and after reading the studies and published works, I don’t see how anyone would not be convinced to include curcumin into their bodybuilding supplement arsenal.
Benefits Of Curcumin
The Anti-Inflammatory Effect
Curcumin supplementation does have an anti-inflammatory effect. Typically athletes that have prolonged joint, elbow, knee, or shoulder pain are experiencing inflammation. Curcumin supplements may be as effective as ibuprofen or Tylenol.
Speeds Up Muscle Recovery
In a study back in 1999, scientists gave animals a dose of curcumin. The authors concluded this.
“Curcumin is the first example of a pharmacological agent with a potent effect on stimulating muscle regeneration after trauma”, the researchers conclude. “Enhanced repair of muscle would be beneficial not only in muscle trauma but also in reconstructive surgery and sports-related injuries.”
One of my favorite sports nutrition benefits of curcumin supplementation is the possible anti-catabolic hormonal effect. Catabolic hormones are hormones that increase muscle loss and fat gains. I believe profoundly that catabolic hormones are much more powerful than anabolic hormones. Think about how fast one loses muscle compared to gaining it. One could spend a year building up 5 lbs of muscle mass, only to lose it all in 2 weeks from getting the flu. If one can suppress those catabolic hormones, less muscle loss would occur. Proof of this is from the use of the drug Clenbuterol. Clenbuterol is a potent bodybuilding drug not because of its anabolic effect, but because of its anti-catabolic one. Users experience muscle retention and loss of body fat from its use. Combined with anabolic steroids and Clenbuterol because even more effective. Supplementing with curcumin may indeed have an anti-catabolic effect. I found this study here. The animal study showed less fat and more fat burning.
Here’s a quote from the researcher.
“Curcumin appeared to be responsible for total lower body fat in the group that received supplementation,” said Meydani, who is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts. “In those mice, we observed a suppression of microvessel density in fat tissue, a sign of less blood vessel growth and thus less expansion of fat. We also found lower blood cholesterol levels and fat in the liver of those mice. In general, angiogenesis and an accumulation of lipids in fat cells contribute to fat tissue growth.”
Long Term Anti-Catabolic Compound
In this fascinating study done in 2019, researchers concluded that curcumin taken for extended periods, kind of like a multi-vitamin one would take every day, would result in the prevention of muscle loss. Good for you old geezers!!
But wait…Anabolic Too??
In another study, I found that curcumin may be anabolic. The results of this study concluded.
“These data also suggest that this compound may favor the initial steps of muscle regeneration.” Wow! Great stuff right here!!
Curcumin inhibits gluconeogenesis.
Another favorite possible benefit of curcumin supplementation is the prevention of those precious amino acids (that you are consuming from drinking my protein powders) from being converted to glucose. This process in the human body is called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is when the body converts amino acids to carbohydrates for energy. As bodybuilders, we do not want this to happen because we want those amino acids to help increase muscle protein synthesis, not to be used for energy. Typically gluconeogenesis occurs when one consumes protein only in a meal or protein drink without any carbohydrates or fat. The body is looking for energy from SOMEWHERE!! Therefore it is forced to take it from protein, instead of its preferred source, carbohydrates. This study showed that supplementing with curcumin may just help prevent gluconeogenesis. Remember, try to use protein with carbs, and if you don’t, well, better start using curcumin supplements.
Researchers found that curcumin may increase testosterone levels. Granted don’t even think it will work like steroids, but any boost in testosterone after training is OK by me!
Let’s face it. Nobody wants to work out when they are bummed out. What happens when that music starts pumping? Exactly. You start destroying the weights. It’s not like you put on depressing classical music or something somber and start repping deadlifts. Being in a sucky mood doesn’t help one get motivated for the gym. Curcumin may act as an anti-depressant. This is a pretty incredible study proven just that. Curcumin use may just work as well as Prozac. Additionally, the discontinuance of anabolic steroids may cause depression. A good idea would be to use curcumin after a steroid cycle.
Not Convinced Yet?
If all of this research has not convinced one to use curcumin as a bodybuilding supplement, I don’t know what will. I mean quite frankly, it is pretty awesome. When recommending what supplements a person should use when trying to increase muscle, I will typically recommend them in order of effectiveness. Protein powders and creatine being #1 of course. Right after that are products with overwhelming research studies proving they are highly effective. Products like my Tectanic Red, which is a specially processed beetroot powder, and Capsimax, a cayenne pepper extract. I now rank curcumin supplements at #2 alongside Tectanic and Capsimax.
Buying Curcumin Supplements
If you want to purchase curcumin, you must be very, very careful. The huge problem with curcumin and I mean HUGE problem with curcumin is that the absorption STINKS! Therefore one must not buy regular old curcumin. It sucks. One must purchase a curcumin supplement that contains at least one “improvement technology”. If you do not you are pretty much pissing your money away.
Curcumin was the most popular supplement on the market before CBD supplements dethroned it. This means that cheap Chinese versions of curcumin powders are all over the marketplace disguised as high-quality supplements. Remember, the supplement industry is filled with unscrupulous people, that try to expand their profit margins wherever they can. And this means buying low and selling high.
As a supplement manufacturing expert for 20 years, I take my articles to the next level by examining supplements that are available to purchase by the consumer. By doing this my readers know exactly what products to purchase. In order to find the best curcumin supplements, I must first look at the manufacturers whom have invented absorption technologies.
Therefore, first, I am listing the top curcumin powders in the world that are produced by raw material manufacturers who, in turn, sell them to supplement companies that make them into dietary supplements to be used by consumers. Supplement companies buy the curcumin powders that I list below and then make their own name brand supplements with them. For example, the first one I listed below is TurmiPure Gold. One might be able to find TurmiPure Gold used by several different supplement companies under various name brands. My job is to analyze these companies and recommend a brand name to you.
The Top 6 Best Curcumin Powders In the World
Curcuminoids with Bioperine
Double the Absorption
I believe this was the first technique to improve curcumin absorption, hence the most basic. Combing curcumin with a black pepper substance called Bioperine was successful to essentially double the absorption. A study from back in 1998 proved this. We carry a brand of curcumin with Bioperine called Curcumuscle.
24X the absorption
The manufacturer of this curcumin claims it as the world’s first bioequivalent at a low dose. They claim 24X more absorption over regular curcumin. They even produced a video and published it on Youtube, showing the solubility of the powder.
I found one product on Amazon.com that uses it. It is from Sport Research and is called Gold Milk with Turmeric and Ginger. You’ll notice on the back supplement facts panel that it says, “TurmiPure Gold.” It is combined with other products, but at least it does contain the brand name TurmiPure Gold. It contains Ginger, which is pretty cool as well. This is a great bodybuilding supplement for men. Ginger helps support prostate health.
10X the absorption
According to the manufacturer of Acumin™ “Is a unique, patent pending, turmeric complex that possesses increased bioavailability of curcumin bioactives and provides a broad range of highly beneficial turmeric root nutrients. Turmeric components are extracted and standardized, then blended together in a precise ratio to create a proprietary dual-phase, polar/non-polar sandwich technology that enables Acumin™ to deliver curcuminoid bioactives to the body with greater bioavailability compared to other branded, enhanced-absorption turmeric ingredients being sold.
This company created its curcumin product using something they call PNS technology. PNS technology is used to increase the bioefficacy and bioavailability of the products by preserving the natural matrix of the product and without any degradation of the active molecules. Using this technology, they claim their product is ten fold more bioavailable than regular curcumin, making it superior to the leading brands.
I searched the internet for a supplement containing Acumin and found this.
Now, this is why you have to be careful. This product DOES indeed contain Acumin. However, it also includes regular old curcumin! Why? Well, I’ll tell you why! The only reason they would use it was to lower the cost by using garbage curcumin. So forget this one.
This is the brand of curcumin with Acumin that you want to buy. Notice it is 100% Acumin, unlike the product above.
BCM 95 or Cucugreen
7 to 9X more absorption
This curcumin is the product of a unique extraction process that brings the collective of curcuminoids and essential oils, including aromatic (Ar)-turmerone, to the forefront.
Here is their explainer video.
They claim 7 to 9 times more bioavailable than regular curcumin.
Several brands use this type of curcumin. Life extension is a well-known brand and the one I recommend if you want to use this type.
187X more absorption
The manufacturer claims a whopping 187 fold in absorption. This type of curcumin is in a liquid colloidal form. It is fully water-soluble, unlike untreated curcumin. Novasol is also in its native micelle form. The research on Novasol is pretty strong.
Here is the brand I recommend. It is from Delta Nutrition and is simply called Curcumin
95X more absorption
The company that makes this type of curcumin claims to have patents and well over 30 research studies tied to it. They claim a 95X fold in absorption vs. regular curcumin powder. Longvida is patented curcumin. This company spent ten years to develop the product. As multiple variations of curcumin extract flood the market, it’s important to remember that not all supplement ingredients are created equally. Longvido uses brand names to provide recognition and transparency, as is the case with its patented Longvida optimized curcumin. Longvida delivers free curcumin, a natural antioxidant from the turmeric root into your bloodstream and tissues.
To utilize curcumin effectively. It must first get into the body as an intact molecule in free-form. Without the special SLCP technology, curcumin rapidly degrades. To optimize absorption, UCLA developed cutting edge technology to help protect curcumin from being quickly digested and excreted. The technology uses a patented combination of limpets to gently coat the curcumin forming a micelle. This allows the curcumin in Longvida to circulate in the body, getting to areas requiring inate support, including the proven ability to cross the blood brain barrier.
There are several brands that use Longvida. Here is the brand I recommend. It is from Now Foods, which is a well know brand.
46X more absorption
Curcuwin is the most recent development in curcumin absorption technology. The manufacturer claims that their form of curcumin powder is 46x more absorbable over standard curcumin powders. Their Ultrasol nutrient delivery system is what increases the absorption of their powder. If you want to try Curcuwin this is the brand I recommend.
Which Is The Best Curcumin Supplement?
Out of the 7 I listed above, which one do I recommend overall? Based on what each company is claiming one would have to go with the Novasol because of the 187X improvement of absorption. I have no other reason, not to choose this one. The only way to truly know which curcumin absorption technology was the best would be to conduct a study comparing all three. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. The bottom line is that you should only use curcumin that is manufactured with one of the 7 absorption technologies I have listed above.
Curcumin Questions and Answers
Question: Can I use curcumin for brain health?
Answer: Yes you can. I have seen studies that show how curcumin may help with Alzheimer’s disease. Supposedly the people in India have a lower rate of Alzheimer’s because of all the curry they consume.
Question: Does curcumin cure cancer?
Answer: No, it does not. I have not seen any studies proving curcumin cures cancer. And most likely you never will. Big pharma rules the cancer industry.
Question: How much curcumin is actually in turmeric powder?
Answer: Anywhere from 1 to 5%. I have seen almost 10%. But on average 1 to 3%.
Question: Can I take my curcumin with other supplements such as multivitamins, fat burners, and creatine?
Answer: Yes you can. Curcumin is natural and no side effects will occur if taken with other supplements. However, one should read the supplement that they are taking and see if it warns against use with curcumin.
Question: What’s the most recent study done on Curcumin that deals with bodybuilding?
Answer: This one. It was published in April of 2019. It was a study done on mice in which the researchers combined curcumin with fish oil. They came to the conclusion that by combining curcumin and fish oil can prevent muscle loss.