Curcumin is the most active ingredient in turmeric and is known for it's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. How much curcumin is in turmeric? What’s a high percentage? Believe it or not, a high percentage is 5-6%. So, 5-6% of turmeric, by weight, is curcumin. On average though, turmeric has about 3% curcumin. The percentage of curcumin depends on several things including species, growing and harvest conditions and timing of harvest.
Generally, a daily wellness dose is 500mg of curcumin. You should do your own research as well, but at 500mg a day, you’ll be seeing the anti-inflammatory benefits for everyday maintenance. If you’re looking for therapeutic dosages, you should talk to your health practitioner.
Let’s do some math.
If you have 1 tsp of turmeric, that weighs about 2g or 2000mg. If curcumin makes up 5% of that, you’ll get 100mg. If it makes up 3%, you’ll get 60mg.
Honestly, don’t sweat the curcumin percentage, just be aware of it and if you have the choice, grab the 5% over the 3%. We source turmeric with curcumin levels of minimun 5-6%. You mostly just want to be aware of how much you are having in order to accurately measure your results and adjust as needed. I have talked to some suppliers who’s turmeric was 2 - 2.5%, so just watch out for those. It could be an issue if you’re expecting 120mg of curcumin and instead you’re getting 40.
It’s not common to see the curcumin percentage written on a label, so you’ll have to ask your retailer. While you're talking to them, ask if it's organic and ethically-sourced.
Whole Food Turmeric
So now that you know curcumin is a small percentage of turmeric… why are you even having turmeric? Why aren’t you having straight curcumin supplements? Well, you might be and might want to and that totally depends on your needs. Remember, we’re talking about everyday wellness and maintenance, not therapeutic dosing. Also, you have to remember that when you eat, drink or supplement whole turmeric root or powder (not a curcumin extract), you’re ingesting the whole food and not just one active ingredient. There is a synergy between constituents within a plant. There are many other bioactive parts in that plant (in that turmeric!). You won’t get that synergy if you’re having curcumin without the rest of the turmeric root.
Why the whole food? I love how Vancouver local, Dr. Marciano, describes the difference when using whole plants vs. exclusively using or reducing a whole plant down to the “active ingredient”.
Dr. Weil believes "whole turmeric is more effective than isolated curcumin for inflammatory disorders, including arthritis, tendonitis, and autoimmune conditions" [ref.] (For therapeutic doses, you'd want to take turmeric extract supplements)
Here’s the thing though. Every bit of nourishment counts. If a turmeric latte makes you feel your best, go for it. Plus, whole foods and whole food spices provide a way to mix and mingle flavours into delicious dishes, raw desserts, warming lattes and soothing teas. A capsule full of curcumin can’t do that. Of course I’m not saying supplementing with curcumin is bad, it sure doesn’t make a good latte.
Our products containing turmeric (5-6% curcumin, organic, fair-trade):
Golden Turmeric Ginger - for lattes, golden milk, smoothies, baking.
Matcha Spirit - for smoothies, juice shots, bliss balls.
Matcha Recovery - great post workout recovery! For smoothies, juice shots, bliss balls.