Inflammation is considered by many to be the root cause of some major health ailments, like bloating and some autoimmune disorders, which might explain inflammation-fighting turmeric’s rise in popularity. These days, you can find turmeric milkshakes, turmeric green tea, and even turmeric water, as well as a ton of recipes and, yes, supplements featuring the ingredient. However, as much as people talk about the vibrant-colored spice and its benefits, the specifics on how to reap turmeric's benefits—including how much to take—might be unclear. What is the recommended dosage of turmeric for inflammation, anyway? And will a golden milk latte a day keep the inflammation away? Or is it better to pop a capsule to notice a real impact?
The recommended dosage of turmeric for inflammation
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory powers are owed to curcumin, “the compound that’s found within turmeric,” according to Amy Shapiro, MS, RDN, CND, registered dietitian and founder and director of the NYC-based private practice Real Nutrition. “Curcumin is the active ingredient that reduces inflammation.”
Considering that curcumin is largely responsible for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, you’ll want to ensure you’re ingesting enough of the compound, which according to Robin Berzin, MD, internist and founder of Parsley Health, “only comprises a small part of turmeric.” To combat inflammation, Dr. Robin recommends a daily dosage of 500 to 1,000 milligrams of curcuminoids, or according to Shapiro, up to 2,000 milligrams.
How to get your recommended dosage of turmeric
You can opt to obtain your recommended daily amount of turmeric (or curcumin) in two ways—through a supplement or through food.
According to Shapiro, a capsule is often the easiest way to ensure you're ingesting enough of the compound to help reduce inflammation. “Supplements will contain more of the active ingredient,” she says, though you certainly don’t need to get your daily recommended amount all in one go. Founder and former CEO of Gaia Herbs Ric Scalzo, for example, takes a few products everyday.
When taking a supplement, Shapiro also recommends that people take it with meals or immediately after a meal, as it is absorbed better with food. She also suggests splitting up your dose. “If you’re taking higher doses, I would split it up into two doses, so your body has a higher chance of absorption.” In any case, if you’re considering a supplement, it’s a good idea to consult with a doctor for specific medical advice on dosage, as much of this will depend on your individual health needs.
While curcumin capsules are good for covering your bases, you can also reap the compound’s anti-inflammatory benefits through cooking with fresh or ground turmeric. “Spices are some of nature’s most powerful natural medicines, so cooking with turmeric is a great idea,” says Dr. Berzin. “That said, it’s likely to help with maintenance, but won’t cure or fix a problem.” That’s because, according to Shapiro, “two teaspoons of turmeric contain about 400 milligrams [of curcumin]—a little bit less than what’s recommended.” She also mentions that the amount of curcumin in fresh or ground turmeric can vary depending on where it’s sourced. (Which shouldn’t deter anyone from using it in their cooking!)
When consuming curcumin, whether through capsules or food, Shapiro recommends that you go for a combination of turmeric and black pepper, or pepperdine.
Why combine turmeric or curcumin with black pepper?
Although it’s powerful, curcumin isn’t all-mighty. It is poorly absorbed on its own, and while you could be taking the recommended dosage of turmeric to fight inflammation, you won’t be reaping the full spectrum of benefits if it isn’t making its way into your gut.
It’s why Shapiro recommends coupling turmeric with black pepper when you’re cooking with it, or if you’re taking curcumin capsules, choosing an option that contains pepperdine—the active ingredient in black pepper—which works to increase the body’s ability to absorb the inflammation-fighting compound. In fact, she says that it can increase absorption by up to 2,000 percent.
What else to keep in mind
1. Ensure curcumin capsules are third-party tested
“When things become popular, a lot of companies will jump on the bandwagon and you’re not sure if you’re getting as much of the active ingredient as you’re being told,” says Shapiro. This applies to supplements too, which is why she recommends choosing curcumin capsules that have been third-party tested (which, she adds, will usually be listed on the label). A supplement that’s been third-party tested can help ensure that you’re getting exactly what you’re looking for.
2. Watch out for “inflammation-washing”
Food and beverage manufacturers know consumers are on the lookout for new—and effective—ways to obtain their recommended dosage of turmeric. While the addition of anti-inflammatory ingredients to more foods is great, Dr. Berzin has noticed that certain brands take advantage of the buzzword in ways that are less than honest.
“We’ve all seen green-washing [where a brand claims to be eco-conscious, but their efforts remain surface-level]; now, we have inflammation-washing,” she says. “A health bar or juice made with 20 grams of sugar and preservatives with a dash of an anti-inflammatory herb thrown in is so much more inflammatory than it is anti-inflammatory.”
Which brings up another good point: Popping a couple of curcumin capsules everyday won’t make up for an unbalanced diet. If your daily regimen relies heavily on dairy, sugar, and soy—three notoriously inflammatory ingredients—it might be worth incorporating more anti-inflammatory meals (seasoned liberally with turmeric, of course) into your eating plan before you hit the supplement aisle.
How long will it take to notice effects?
If you’re taking the recommended dosage of turmeric for inflammation, you can expect to notice its effects in a month or up to six months, says Shapiro. However, she underscores the importance not only of taking the right dose, but also taking it consistently. “Whenever you’re starting a supplement for results, first you have to commit to consistency,” she says. “If you decide that you’re going to take a turmeric supplement and you take it every other day or once a couple times a week, you’re not going to see the results.”
Can you have too much turmeric?
Shapiro says there isn’t an upper limit to how much turmeric one can have, with the caveat: “I would say when people consume too much of anything, they might experience some stomach upset, nausea, and discomfort in that way.”
Is there anyone who shouldn’t take turmeric?
Turmeric, when consumed as a spice and not in a medicinal dose, is generally considered to be safe for most people. However, given its potent anti-inflammatory powers, it should come as no surprise that concentrated, medicinal amounts of turmeric isn’t recommended for people with certain health conditions.
You should always talk to your doctor before taking any supplement, turmeric included. Turmeric supplements are not safe for people taking blood-thinning medication (like warfarin) because they might further thin the blood. You also shouldn’t take it if you’re on heartburn medication, even over-the-counter options like Pepcid, because it might interfere with how the medications work.
For many other folks, however, turmeric can be a powerful health supplement that promotes anti-inflammation and other positive health outcomes—given that you’re taking it at the recommended dosage. With your health practitioner’s sign off, it’s certainly worth considering if fighting inflammation is your top health priority.
Want to know even more about turmeric? Watch this RD break down the trendy ingredient:
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