Curcumin wars escalate with head-to-head study

Which branded ingredient has the best bioavailability?

Todd Runestad, Content Director,

April 29, 2021

3 Min Read
Curcumin wars escalate with head-to-head study

Curcumin—the active ingredient in the golden Indian spice turmeric—has been a fantastic seller for the past decade as the leading inflammation-modulating ingredient.

The problem is it’s a large molecule and thus the body has difficulty absorbing the curcuminoids and putting the natural bioactives to work. Plus, the body rapidly metabolizes curcumin. In sum, not enough gets in and what does get in leaves all too quickly.

That has led to a skirmish among ingredient suppliers to invent various technologies to boost bioavailability.

Curcumin supplements routinely tout the multiples of improved bioavailability over standard curcumin. Eight times! Twenty-four times! Two-hundred and forty times!

Which is best?

A face-to-face study just published in the respected Journal of Nutrition compared all the leading curcumin ingredients. The results were notable, and could help CPG brands select the ingredient that best suits their finished-product formats.

A total of 30 healthy young adults were enrolled in the study, 14 men, 16 women, average age 33 years old. They were given the recommended daily dose of five different curcumin ingredients:

  • Standard turmeric extract, 1,500 mg (Naturex)

  • Liquid micellar curcumin, 1,000 mg (Aquanova’s NovaSOL) 

  • Piperine-curcuminoid combination, 1,515 (Sabinsa’s Curcumin C3 Complex) 

  • Phytosome formulation, 1,000 mg (Indena’s Meriva)

  • Dried colloidal suspension, 300 mg (Givaudan’s TurmiPure Gold)

Related:Curcumin with 5x bioavailability for a powerful punch in a small dose – infographic

Comparing the five formulations at exactly the same curcuminoid dosage could have been scientifically meaningful. However, researchers instead decided on a study design to be of greater interest for consumers, because curcuminoid bioavailability for each formulation has been assessed at dosages relevant to the consumer.

The standard turmeric extract dose of 1,500 mg is the classical observed efficacy dose.

“Consumers,” wrote the researchers, “will be able to make informed decisions regarding which turmeric formulation to choose based on their real curcuminoid absorption capacity.”

The primary ingredient investigated was the TurmiPure Gold at 300 mg, which was compared to intake of 1,500 mg of standard turmeric extract. The intakes for all formulations were calculated to provide equivalent area-under-the-curve (AUC) to 24 hours post-consumption to that of the 300 mg of TurmiPure Gold.

The primary end point of the study was the dose-normalized AUC of total plasma curcuminoids through 24 hours post-dose.

The 300 mg TurmiPure Gold delivered as many curcuminoids to the blood as 1,920 mg of standard turmeric extract or 2,260 mg of Sabinsa’s C3 Complex.

Related:Curcumin and turmeric supplement challenges

“The results indicate that TurmiPure Gold is the most bioavailable low-dose turmeric extract available on the market,” said Pascale Fanca-Berthon, Givaudan’s category technical leader of health. “Instantly water-dispersible, it is 100% natural and safe. This innovation broadens the potential for application development.”

The TurmiPure Gold is self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for food and beverage applications.

The relative bioavailability from 0 to 24 hours of total curcuminoids in healthy volunteers for the TurmiPure Gold (300 mg) was 24-fold higher than 1,500 mg of the standard turmeric extract. When compared with the other turmeric formulations, 300 mg of TurmiPure Gold was 22-fold more bioavailable than 1,515 mg of Sabinsa’s Curcumin C3 Complex, sixfold more than 1,000 mg of Indena’s Meriva, but two times less than 1000 mg of Aquanova’s NovaSOL.

The TurmiPure Gold produced 1.5-fold higher curcuminoid plasma concentrations than Curcumin C3 Complex, 2.8-fold higher than 1,000 mg of Indena’s Meriva, and the same amount of total curcuminoids in blood as 763 mg of Aquanova’s NovaSOL.

About the Author(s)

Todd Runestad

Content Director,, Natural Products Insider

Todd Runestad has been writing on nutrition science news since 1997. He is content director for and Natural Products Insider digital magazines. Other incarnations: supplements editor for, Delicious Living!, and Natural Foods Merchandiser. Former editor-in-chief of Functional Ingredients magazine and still covers raw material innovations and ingredient science.

Connect with me here on LinkedIn.


Todd writes about nutrition science news such as this story on mitochondrial nutrients, innovative ingredients such as this story about 12 trendy new ingredient launches from SupplySide West 2023, and is a judge for the NEXTY awards honoring innovation, integrity and inspiration in natural products including his specialty — dietary supplements. He extensively covered the rise and rise and rise and fall of cannabis hemp CBD. He helps produce in-person events at SupplySide West and SupplySide East trade shows and conferences, including the wildly popular Ingredient Idol game show, as well as Natural Products Expo West and Natural Products Expo East and the NBJ Summit. He was a board member for the Hemp Industries Association.

Education / Past Lives

In previous lives Todd was on the other side of nature from natural products — natural history — as managing editor at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He's sojourned to Burning Man and Mount Everest. He graduated many moons ago from the State University of New York College at Oneonta.


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