Is There A Best Time Of Day To Take Turmeric? Here's What To Know
Ever versatile, turmeric can be consumed as a root, a spice, or a concentrated supplement (i.e., a root extract), and it pairs as well with breakfast as it does dinner.
This raises the question—is there a best time of day to enjoy it to reap the most benefits? We asked around to see what health and nutrition experts had to say.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a bright yellow-orange spice derived from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, primarily grown in India and other parts of Southeast Asia. It has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for its medicinal properties.
The active compound responsible for turmeric's vibrant color and health benefits is called curcumin.* Turmeric is widely known for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help support overall well-being.*
It is a common ingredient in various cuisines, particularly in curry dishes, and is also available in supplement form for its potential health-promoting effects.
Benefits of turmeric
Before we talk timing, it's helpful to contextualize what exactly turmeric does to support the body.
As nutritional psychiatrist and bestselling author Uma Naidoo, M.D., tells mindbodygreen, curcumin, one of the main phytonutrient active ingredients in turmeric, is first and foremost a powerful antioxidant4. "Antioxidants are very powerful substances that fend off oxidative stress by taking care of the free radicals that form in our body... If free radicals are left to their own devices, they are problematic,"* Naidoo explains.
The curcumin in turmeric can also help modulate pro-inflammatory pathways3.* And by helping nurture a healthy inflammatory response, turmeric helps pretty much every part of the body—from the gut and joints to the brain—do its job more effectively.* "When we think about the way that turmeric helps mood or longevity, the underlying mechanisms are antioxidant and inflammatory pathways,"* Naidoo adds.
Beyond curcumin, full-spectrum turmeric is unique because it also delivers other important bioactives (a full array of curcuminoids, essential oils, fiber, etc.) to facilitate optimal absorption and further ease oxidative stress and promote healthy inflammatory status.* All in all, incorporating a high-quality turmeric source into your routine can lead to noticeable differences in mood, joint and muscle comfort, immunity5, and gut health6 over time.*
But don't expect to see these changes after your first golden milk. Naidoo notes that, depending on the person, it will take a few weeks of regular turmeric consumption before these effects really start to show up. This means that to get the most benefit from the antioxidant-rich powerhouse, you'll want to do your best to consume it daily.
The best time of day to consume turmeric
"I do feel that with anything—whether it's a food, nutrient, or an herbal supplement—consistency is always key," Naidoo says. So those looking to up their turmeric intake may find it helpful to start doing so at the same time of day. What time that is, however, doesn't matter as much.
If you're cooking with it, Naidoo suggests thinking about which meals or beverages you turn to consistently on a daily basis. Do you always eat a salad at lunch? Maybe you could incorporate the spice (and its botanical buddy, black pepper) into your salad dressing. Love to have a hot beverage every morning? Consider making it a warming golden milk. Always have a protein with dinner? Keep Feller's turmeric chicken recipe in your rotation.
When consuming a turmeric supplement, timing can also be variable. Consuming the supplement with or after a meal will usually be easier on the stomach—but it really depends on the person and the product. Looking for a supplement that is designed for optimal bioavailability (like mbg's new turmeric potency+) will help ensure it gets effectively absorbed and utilized by the body when you do take it.*
With turmeric, as with anything, Feller stresses the need to find an individualized routine that works for you.
Lesson learned: There's really never a wrong time to take turmeric as a food or supplement, as it will always lend a boost of antioxidants that the body needs to thrive. However, consuming turmeric on a daily basis will help you reap the total suite of benefits this plant has to offer, and it will be easier to do when you're consistent on timing.
Whether you sprinkle the golden spice on dinner or consume it in your morning supplement routine (or leverage both nutrition strategies!), any time of day is a good time of day for this functional herb.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.