Turmeric root is an ancient Ayurvedic herb native to Southeast Asia. This golden spice's antioxidant properties have been widely researched and used to support a healthy inflammatory response and combat oxidative stress for thousands of years.*
As an antioxidant powerhouse, the turmeric botanical (Curcuma longa) boasts a wide range of whole-body health benefits: It's been shown to help support cognitive function1, promote immune resilience, enhance digestion, maintain joint mobility, and regulate healthy blood sugar levels, physician and Ayurvedic expert Avanti Kumar-Singh, M.D., tells mbg.*
The dynamic spice can be taken in supplement form, sprinkled directly onto dishes, and sipped through tea—but what benefits (or side effects) can you expect if you add one or even all three options to your daily routine? What's the perfect daily dose of turmeric? And is it possible to have too much of this impressive herb?
Benefits of turmeric.
There's a full array of phytonutrients (especially polyphenols) native to the turmeric root, but when it comes to health benefits, curcuminoids are the bioactive botanical ingredients you're definitely going to want to get to know.
These active compounds—especially curcumin, thought of as a "principal" curcuminoid—are what enable turmeric root to fight free radicals, promote a healthy inflammatory response, and support a number of whole-body health benefits, with joint resilience and recovery probably most famous on that benefit list.*
While this ancient botanical has been used in Southeast Asian cooking and Ayurvedic healing for approximately 4,000 years, news of its health benefits have caught on in the West much more recently.
From broad full body benefits to targeted mood support, it's no wonder that turmeric's health potential and impact have Americans talking!
Promoting a healthy inflammatory response
There's no question that turmeric is most famous for its ability to support the body's inflammatory response. Curcumin, for example, has been shown to impact inflammatory pathways through a number of mechanisms—including blocking pro-inflammatory mediators2 (like NF-κB), modulating gene expression3, and combating oxidative stress4.*
These dynamic actions help promote whole-body health and function, making turmeric a force to be reckoned with when it comes to inflammatory homeostasis, checks and balances if you will.
In fact, a novel full-spectrum turmeric root extract (i.e., the plant parts intrinsic to turmeric root) has even been clinically shown to reduce key inflammatory biomarkers5 C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)—bringing tangible, real-life benefits.* (This is one of the reasons mbg features this type of turmeric in its own supplement lineup.)
Turmeric also helps promote the strength, function, and mobility of the musculoskeletal system—i.e., bones, muscles, and joints; for example, in a 2017 5Journal of Medicinal Food5 study5, participants that took a full-spectrum turmeric extract had significantly improved biomarker levels (i.e., ESR and CRP) relevant to joint health.*
As it turns out, turmeric is quite beneficial for muscle recovery as well: In a 2021Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity review, researchers found that turmeric supplementation helped improve muscle performance and promote healthy muscle recovery6.*
Mood and memory support.
Curcuminoid consumption has also been associated with mood benefits (again, thanks to those impressive antioxidant properties and pathways nurturing a balanced inflammatory response).
In one study conducted on healthy adults ages 60-85, those who took turmeric supplements were calmer, more content, and able to manage stress more effectively7 than those who took a placebo.* The study also found that turmeric supplementation helped improve working memory (a kind of short-term memory associated with decision-making) and sustained attention.*
How much turmeric can you take in a day?
So, how much turmeric do you need to take to see these incredible health benefits?
While there is no recommended daily requirement for botanical herbs (like we have for essential macronutrients and micronutrients), the science indicates a range of anywhere from 500 milligrams of turmeric root extract to 1,000 milligrams on up. That range is a result of variability from the turmeric source, bioavailability, and health outcome being studied.
In the food realm it’s estimated that one teaspoon of turmeric has about 200 milligrams of curcumin. For anyone looking to reap its benefits daily in a targeted (and thus, reliable) dose, that’s squarely turmeric supplement territory.
That said, not every turmeric supplement is created equal. While many forms of turmeric root are available on the market, their bioavailability profiles differ depending on the formula. For example, a buddy phytonutrient called piperine (found in black pepper) can help enhance the absorption (and thus, bioavailability) of curcuminoids.*
If you choose a turmeric supplement that optimizes bioavailability, then less is more. For example, mbg's turmeric potency+ features 500 milligrams of turmeric from full-spectrum turmeric root extract (plus ginger root extract and piperine from black pepper fruit, for extra antioxidant and whole-body health benefits).*
While a 500-milligram dose may subjectively appear lower than other supplements, objectively (per science), it’s not. As nutrition scientist Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN explains, "the full-spectrum form of turmeric found in mbg's supplement utilizes polar-nonpolar-sandwich, aka PNS, technology. This cutting-edge design leverages the native turmeric root plant compounds: I'm talking about the full array of curcuminoids, but also the intrinsic fiber, protein, and turmeric oil components, too. This is turmeric at its best, tapping into its full-on potential."
In fact, this full-spectrum turmeric has been clinically shown to increase bioavailability tenfold when compared to several other common turmeric forms (e.g., the 95% curcuminoid design, volatile oil, and liposomal turmeric); thus, its inherently superior potency means you need less to achieve the same biological effects.*†
Ferira says turmeric options and their differential bioavailability and efficacy are like cars: "Listen, lots of lovely cars can get you from point A to point B, but a gorgeous sports car with optimized torque and horsepower will get you there more efficiently and effectively. Full-spectrum turmeric is the 'Ferrari' of turmeric options."
It's also important to pay attention to the ingredients and sourcing. For turmeric supplements that means seeking out a clean formula with clinically meaningful doses of quality botanical extracts, a clear Supplement Facts panel, and minimal "Other ingredients." Read the label, it's important! Vegan turmeric supplement options that are free of GMOs, gluten, soy, dairy, and other major food allergens are available on the market (including mbg's turmeric formula).
On the food side of things, "turmeric is generally considered safe and can be eaten without any serious side effects," says naturopathic physician Jaime Schehr, N.D., R.D., but look closely because some "turmeric powders can be manufactured with cheap fillers, such as wheat starch and questionable food colorants." If that's the case, it's probably time to find a higher-quality form. And always check the expiration date on your spices, turmeric included!
Potential side effects of turmeric.
Taking too much turmeric may lead to stomach upset or feelings of dizziness, Kumar-Singh tells us. But considering the amount of turmeric found in recipes (or high-quality supplements), these side effects are unlikely. In fact, a recent BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine scientific review analyzed 10 studies on the physiological effects of turmeric and found no significant serious effects.
That said, talking to a health care provider before adding a new supplement to your regimen is always a good idea. Talk to your healthcare provider about the optimal dosage and form for your unique health needs and history.
A final consideration (and clear advantage of high-quality turmeric supplements over using turmeric spice in food dishes), is the heavy metal conundrum. As Ferira shares, "Nobody wants a spoonful of lead, but so few people are talking about the heavy metal burden of daily, liberal use of spices like turmeric" in the context of sprinkling it on foods.
Precautions and interactions.
People who have renal health concerns, in particular, should also talk to their health care provider before taking turmeric supplements, Koya says.
How to use turmeric.
From turmeric lattes and curries to face masks and supplements, there seems to be a turmeric-based solution to just about every health concern. If you choose to cook with turmeric, Schehr suggests adding ground turmeric to egg or tofu scrambles, bone broth, or as a seasoning for roasted vegetables and fish. "Be sure that you're pairing turmeric with black pepper8 to increase its absorption in the gut," she adds.
That said, adding the spice to your diet isn't the best option if you're looking for targeted health support. Remember, 1 teaspoon of fresh or ground turmeric contains only about 200 milligrams of curcumin. That's why Kumar-Singh recommends adding a supplement to get the full antioxidant effects in a convenient format (and consistent dose).*
Taking turmeric in powder or supplement form is a simple and effective way to add the potent Ayurvedic spice to your daily health routine.
In search of a high-potency turmeric supplement with a clinically meaningful dose of turmeric root extract, ginger root extract, and built-in piperine from black pepper fruit for incremental absorption benefits, mbg developed its very own supplement, turmeric potency+.
Our cutting-edge, full-spectrum turmeric embraces the complete profile of turmeric root bioactives with up to 10 times higher bioavailability than other turmeric forms, so it's no surprise it's been clinically shown to increase blood levels of curcuminoids (aka your body's curcuminoid status), support a healthy inflammatory response5, promote joint health5, improve muscle strength9, and reduce muscle soreness10 following exercise.*†
So if you're looking for a high-quality turmeric supplement with proven bioavailability that promotes whole-body health day in and day out, we've got you covered with turmeric potency+!*
† Acumin™ research has demonstrated superior bioavailability, curcuminoid serum response, and stability compared to other common forms of turmeric root extract (e.g., volatile oil, phospholipid/liposomal, and standard 95% curcumin).
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.