Turmeric is a popular spice these days thanks to its active compound, curcumin. This yellow pigment found in turmeric is responsible for most of its health benefits. You can see over 600 medicinal properties of turmeric and curcumin on MEDLINE, the National Library of Medicine’s database. And, while everyone is recommending adding turmeric to your diet, there are some things to consider first.

Curcumin isn’t easy to absorb

The main problem with the curcumin is its bioavailability. In order for the body to absorb it properly, you must mix it with other ingredients. According to animal studies, the presence of curcumin in the peripheral tissues, blood plasma and urine is extremely low after turmeric consumption. Here are some recommendations on ingredients that will boost curcumin’s bioavailability:

Black pepper

Black pepper is hands down the best ingredient for boosting curcumin’s bioavailability. When we consume turmeric, the levels of curcumin in the blood will be hardly noticeable in a few hours. However, if you consume it along ¼ of a spoon of black pepper, the bioavailability of curcumin will quickly jump up to 2000%. Even a small amount of black pepper boosts the levels of curcumin in the blood. This is why black pepper is the main ingredient in curry powder besides turmeric. According to a study, “Effects of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human subjects showed that when piperine was co-administered with curcumin and given to human subjects the bioavailability of curcumin have risen by 2000%.”

Add some healthy fats along turmeric

Turmeric is a fat-soluble ingredient, meaning that it should be consumed along fats to properly benefit from it. Combined with healthy fats such as coconut, ghee or olive oil, it will be absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system, bypassing the liver in this case. This is crucial, as curcumin is not exposed to metabolic enzymes, staying in its pure form and remaining in the body for a longer period.

Heat increases turmeric’s bioavailability

Dr. Sukumar says “The strong substance in turmeric is curcumin, which, unfortunately isn’t easily absorbed by the organism without help. But the sauté pan and a little bit of warm water can be very helpful. I’m adding turmeric in every sauté, only a ¼ of teaspoon. But you don’t have to use it moderately, instead, use it in larger amounts,” and continues “The best way to consume it is to add it in your cooking very significantly. If you have any sauté at home, just add it on. Once you add the turmeric in heated oil, it becomes fully bioavailable for you.”


In order to boost curcumin’s bioavailability and properly benefit from turmeric, you need to:

  • Heat the turmeric to activate it
  • Mix it with ground black pepper to boost its bioavailability

These are the daily recommended dosages according to the Maryland Medical Center:

1.5-3 gr. daily from a cut turmeric root

1-3 gr. daily in powdered form