Supplement Spotlight: Curcumin
Updated: May 8
Hello Guys! I figured I'd take this time to start a series within my blog. One that goes about and does a quick, bite-sized breakdown of supplements, if/how they work and what are the potential benefits and drawbacks of each. I think it is very important to make information regarding supplementation available, but most of all, understandable for the general population. So without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to "Curcumin."
Curcumin is the primary bioactive substance in turmeric (spice). If you're not aware, Turmeric is commonly used in many dishes such as curry Most notably, it is responsible for giving Turmeric that bright yellow color (similar to the minion above). One thing that makes Curcuminoids, interesting, along with their yellow pigment is that there is research to show that this polyphenol possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Why do we care about anti-inflammatory properties in food? Well, the average North American diet is comprised of about 50% carb, 15% protein, and 35% fat. Without looking at the macronutrient ratios too closely, one thing we want to look at now is the pattern of fat consumption that has crept into the average diet. In the last 30 years or so, we've gone from consuming an Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio of 2:1, to a more updated ratio of 20:1...
...today or even higher. This change in the composition of fatty acids parallels a significant increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity. Experimental studies have suggested that omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids elicit divergent effects on body fat gain through mechanisms of adipogenesis, browning of adipose tissue, lipid homeostasis, brain-gut-adipose tissue axis, and most importantly systemic inflammation. Prospective studies clearly show an increase in the risk of obesity as the level of omega-6 fatty acids and the omega-6/omega-3 ratio increase in red blood cell (RBC) membrane phospholipids, whereas high omega-3 RBC membrane phospholipids decrease the risk of obesity. We'll talk more about omega-3's and 6's in another post, but it's important that we identify that diets rich in omega-6's are notably higher in systemic inflammation. We eat a lot of foods that cause inflammation in the body.
This is where curcumin comes in.
Benefits of Curcumin
Supplementation of curcumin reliably reduces markers of inflammation and increases the levels of endogenous antioxidants in the body. Curcumin, when supplemented correctly (in the form of food or orally ingested tablets) can provide improved aerobic performance. Curcumin actively improves inflammation in the body, and best of all, you likely won't need to buy any form of supplement to increase your dosage. If you have turmeric in your spice rack, you have a natural form of curcumin. One downfall of curcumin, however, is that it's poorly absorbed. Among the methods devised to address the issue, the two easiest and most reliable methods are to pair curcumin with piperine (black pepper) or to combine it with lipids (fats/oils). If you are like me and prefer (if possible) to stray away from supplements as much as possible (I just like to challenge myself to get my nutrients from whole foods where possible, then making curries with turmeric and pepper is your most natural way to spice up your life, and perhaps improve your performance at the same time!
To the best of my knowledge, there are limited investigations conducted showing any negative drawbacks towards taking curcumin for health benefits/ for performance inhibitions. This might be an area where more work is needed in the future.
How to Supplement
If you don't like the turmeric spice or prefer to use supplements, literature shows us that one other way you can supplement Curcumin is as follows:
To supplement curcumin with piperine, take 500 mg of curcumin with 20 mg of the piperine, three times per day (i.e., 1,500 mg of curcumin and 60 mg of piperine per day).
As per usual, some of the links for you to peruse through if you have the time/interest.