How To Find the Best Turmeric Supplements for Athletes
If you’re looking for an herbal supplement that can fight fatigue, pain, and inflammation, you might want to check your spice rack.
According to a large body of scientific evidence, turmeric — the same orange-colored spice often used in Indian cooking — appears to be one of Mother Nature’s most promising anti-inflammatory herbs. It may even have a range of mental health benefits.
Using turmeric for medicinal purposes is nothing new. Native to South Asia, turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine since as early as 3,000 – 2,500 B.C.
This golden spice is made from roots and rhizomes of the Curcuma longa or Curcuma domestica plant (closely related to ginger root).
This article will provide insights into the science and benefits of a turmeric supplement, and show you how to choose the best turmeric supplements on the market.
The Health Benefits of Turmeric for Athletes, as Shown by Science
Yes, turmeric gets a bad reputation for staining your clothes and kitchen counters. But if you can get past the deep orange pigment, you'll realize this spice is packed with health benefits.
Turmeric may help reduce inflammation, improve joint pain, reduce muscle wasting, and offer a host of other health benefits. As an athlete, here are four turmeric benefits that could impact your training:
1. Turmeric Can Reduce Inflammation
The most active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is known to have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. You can blame curcumin for the bright orange stain turmeric leaves all over your kitchen counter, then praise it for its many health benefits.
According to Nutrition and Cancer, curcuminoids like curcumin may even be useful in preventing some forms of cancer.
Here's how that benefits you as an athlete: Inflammation is your body's way of fighting anything that harms it,whether it be a wound, illness, or athletic injury. However, inflammation isn’t inherently “bad” since it's the body’s natural way of healing itself.
Rather, it’s chronic inflammation that leads to health problems, like arthritis, vascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and cognitive dysfunction.
On the surface, chronic inflammation typically manifests as redness, heat, pain, swelling, and stiffness — all of which can keep you out of the gym. Luckily, taking curcumin supplements can help reduce inflammation and get you back to your daily life and workout routine.
2. Turmeric Powder Can Help Treat Joint Pain
In multiple clinical trials, turmeric root extract and curcumin have been shown to significantly improve joint function and treat joint pain. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation lists turmeric (curcumin) as a recommended supplement for treating symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Here's what we know so far: In a recent trial conducted by BioMedCentral (BCM), researchers weighed the effectiveness of curcumin capsules against anti-inflammatory drugs in 139 patients suffering from osteoarthritic knee pain.
Patients were split into two treatment groups and given either a 500-mg curcumin capsule thrice daily, or a 50-mg anti-inflammatory drug (an active control) twice daily for four weeks.
Throughout the study, there was no significant difference in the degree of pain relief provided by curcumin and the anti-inflammatory drug. In addition, the group taking curcumin softgels had fewer side effects.
If you suffer from joint pain — particularly in your knees and hips — you could easily find yourself sidelined from workouts you once loved. If you enjoy high-impact exercises such as running, doing HIIT workouts, weight training, or playing basketball, a turmeric curcumin supplement deserves a spot in your supplement stash.
3. Turmeric Could Benefit Your Mental Health
In supplement form, turmeric extract doesn't just benefit your physical health — it can benefit your mental health as well.
In a 2013 study conducted by Behavioral Brain Research, curcumin worked as an antidepressant in mice. In addition, mice injected with curcumin extract showed increased activity in their hippocampus, the region of the brain that regulates emotion, learning, and memory.
Antidepressant properties aren't the only way curcumin could benefit your brain. According to the Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, curcumin has potential in treating Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline.
While there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease (yet), inflammation and damage caused by free radicals are thought to play a role. Curcumin, found in turmeric root extract, helps counteract both. In addition, Alzheimer's is associated with a buildup of beta-amyloid (protein) plaques in the brain. In one study conducted by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, curcuminoids helped to break up these plaques.
4. Turmeric May Reduce Muscle Tissue Breakdown
Recent research suggests that curcumin may reduce the expression of genes that activate skeletal muscle-wasting (sarcopenia) pathways in the body. More simply, curcumin appears to be an anti-catabolic phytonutrient, especially when energy and protein intake is restricted.
Sarcopenia is common in older adults and those who are highly sedentary. Naturally, anything that inhibits muscle-wasting-gene activation is favorable for preserving lean body mass. As such, turmeric supplements are worthwhile for athletes and active gym-goers who are trying to burn body fat while preserving as much lean muscle tissue as possible.
What To Look for in the Best Turmeric Supplements
Research suggests that at least 500 mg of curcumin per day is necessary for therapeutic benefits. On average, pure turmeric powder contains roughly 3% curcumin by weight, so 6.8 grams (about one tablespoon) only has 0.204 grams of curcumin, or 204 milligrams.
Therefore, you would need to consume nearly three tablespoons of pure turmeric powder daily to get the health benefits of curcuminoids. For reference, a typical multi-serving chicken curry recipe only calls for one just teaspoon of turmeric.
Hence, a turmeric supplement is the more practical (and effective) option.
However, many of the turmeric capsules found on the market - especially Amazon - pose two problems:
- First, they lack standardization and potency (i.e., they provide few curcuminoids, the constituents associated with the majority of turmeric health benefits).
- Second they're often not bioavailable (meaning they don’t absorb properly).
To combat these two problems, look for a turmeric formula with these two features:
1. It’s Standardized to a Clinically Effective Dose ofCurcumin
Curcumin makes up a small percentage of turmeric (even though it's the active ingredient within it). Recall that pure turmeric is only made up of 3.14% curcumin, and the putative minimum effective dose of curcumin is 500 mg per day. (This is why it’s quite impractical to get your daily dose of curcumin through curry powders and turmeric spices.)
To get the maximum health benefits from turmeric extract, you should look for a supplement with a high-dose curcumin complex, particularly one of the branded curcumin ingredients like Curcumin C3® Complex.
2. It's Paired With BioPerine
BioPerine® is a patented form of piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper (Piper nigrum) fruit. According to a clinical trial by Planta Medica, the piperine content of black pepper extract helps increase the absorption of a number of nutrients — including curcumin. Piperine is unique in that it inhibits specific liver enzymes, thereby making many phytonutrients more absorbable, especially curcuminoids (which are notorious for having poor oral bioavailability).
Two of the Best Turmeric Supplements on the Market
At Transparent Labs, we have two products that we believe to be among the best turmeric supplements by fulfilling the above criteria.. In addition, both products are gluten-free,non-GMO, free of common allergens, and contain zero artificial sweeteners, colors, or preservatives. In addition, ourRawSeries Turmeric 95% Curcuminoids supplement is vegan.
1. RawSeries Turmeric 95% Curcuminoids
The RawSeries Turmeric 95% Curcuminoids contains high-potency 95% curcuminoids. Other products will dilute the formula with low-quality turmeric root powder, which contains lesser doses of curcuminoids.
In addition, the RawSeries Turmeric 95% Curcuminoids is made with 5 mg of BioPerine, which, as stated earlier, has been scientifically shown to increase absorption.
2. WellnessSeries Joint Support
The WellnessSeries Joint Support provides all the health benefits of a maximum-strength turmeric supplement by providing 500 mg of patented Curcumin C3® Complex in every serving. According to the Journal of Integrated Medicine, this Curcumin C3® complex increases the absorption of curcuminoids by up to 200%.
In addition, it offers calcium fructoborate, Boswellic acid, and undenatured type-II collagen peptides to help protect and rebuild joints. And of course, it's paired with BioPerine® to help increase absorption of beneficial phytoconstituents.
Turmeric Supplements Are Packed With Health Benefits
That is, if you know what to look for.
Turmeric — and its active ingredient, curcumin — has been shown to fight joint pain, inflammation, and even high blood pressure. Unfortunately, many products that advertise themselves as the best turmeric supplement on the market provide little-to-no benefit due to their poor bioavailability and misleading potency.
Turmeric powder is made up of a mere 3% curcumin and can be difficult to absorb. Not to mention, most people aren’t going to eat chicken curry for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every single day. Even if they did, they would still need to take a few heaping tablespoons of pure turmeric for “dessert” to get a clinically effective dose of curcumin.
Therefore, when shopping for a turmeric supplement, be sure to find one that contains ample doses of curcumin and piperine (to increase bioavailability).
Transparent Labs offers two products that do both.
The RawSeries Turmeric 95% Curcuminoids and the WellnessSeries Joint Support offer high doses of quality curcumin, as well as piperine to enhance the bioavailability of this valuable phytonutrient. For reducing joint pain, fighting inflammation, and boosting your mental health, look no further than these turmeric supplements.