by Rob Hughes
Have you heard of curcumin? You may not know it, but you’re probably more familiar with this nutrient than you realize. In fact, chances are good you’ve got a supply of curcumin in your pantry right now, hidden in plain sight as part of your favorite curry powder—the bright yellow-orange spice turmeric.
Turmeric, the warm, earthy spice, is extracted from the dried rhizome, or root, of the Curcuma longa plant. For centuries, turmeric has been used throughout India and across many parts of Southeast Asia as a spice, a preservative, a multi-purpose folk remedy, and even as a saffron-hued fabric dye. Curcumin is one of three micronutrient compounds found in turmeric—aptly named curcuminoids—that give the spice both its distinctive golden color and its healthy benefits. Surprisingly, curcumin only makes up a mere 2–5% of most dietary preparations of turmeric.
Spice of Life
While curcumin has been used as a folk remedy since ancient times, it wasn’t formally studied until the 21st century, but it’s certainly making up for lost time. Since the first scientific article on curcumin was published back in 1937, over 2,600 research studies have been published in English language journals. Curcumin has been extensively researched for a wide variety of potential health benefits, with a majority of studies exploring its powerful anti-oxidative properties, as well as its role in supporting a positive response to inflammation at the cellular level.*
As a potent natural antioxidant, curcumin helps support cells facing the damaging effects of free radicals.* Curcumin influences a variety of cell signal pathways and helps reduce systemic oxidative stress in cells, organs, and tissues throughout the body.* Using several different mechanisms, curcumin helps neutralize free radicals by scavenging reactive oxygen, nitrogen, and peroxyl radicals, as well as modulating enzyme activity. By helping to reduce oxidative stress, curcumin helps benefit our cells by supporting their structural integrity and maintaining healthy function.*
Curcumin has also been praised for its ability to naturally promote a healthy response to inflammation.* While this all sounds great, what does it really mean? For starters, let’s remember that not all inflammation is bad. Temporary inflammation is a normal, healthy defense mechanism used by the body to facilitate healing following an acute injury, infection, or allergic reaction. Scabbing, redness, and swelling are all indicators of normal, acute inflammation. For many people, poor diet can hinder the body’s ability to resolve inflammation in a timely way. When this occurs, it may be beneficial to supplement with curcumin which influences pathways related to the body’s immune response and can help facilitate an optimal response to inflammation.*
The Challenge of Bioavailability
In its native form, curcumin is not especially water soluble, and therefore very difficult for the body to absorb and use. In technical terms, it suffers from poor bioavailability.
When curcumin enters the body’s digestive tract, its chemical structure makes it prone to picking up a sugar molecule, which renders it essentially inactive and puts it on the fast-track for excretion before it can be absorbed and circulated throughout the body. Unfortunately, this means no matter how many delicious bowls of yellow curry you enjoy, your body probably isn’t getting enough curcumin to significantly feel its health benefits.
Many creative methods have been tried to address curcumin’s inadequate native bioavailability. Some curcumin supplement products add black pepper extract—also known as piperine—to improve absorption by preventing those pesky sugar molecules from latching onto curcumin. However, this approach is less than ideal since piperine might also affect the metabolism of substances besides curcumin—including prescription drugs.
You don’t have to be a doctor to know that proper dosage of medication is very important. Since doctors prescribe pharmaceutical dosages assuming a certain level of bioavailability, changing the body’s ability to metabolize prescription drugs could be problematic. All things considered, you could argue that using piperine simply isn’t worth the risk.
Nordic Naturals’ new Curcumin Gummies and synergistic formulas that feature curcumin like Omega Curcumin and Omega Memory with Curcumin, use a specially developed type of curcumin—Longvida® Optimized Curcumin—which is made using a proprietary process called Solid Lipid Curcumin Particle Technology (SLCP™) developed at UCLA. By surrounding natural curcumin in a liposome (a ball of fat-like molecules), Longvida Optimized Curcumin protects the micronutrient and helps it move across the gut wall and into the bloodstream where it can be circulated and absorbed throughout the body.
Thanks to SLCP™ technology, Nordic Naturals’ curcumin products are 65 times better absorbed than standard curcumin products that claim 95% absorbability using the C-Max method, which measures absorbability at a single point in time. Using the Area Under the Curve (AUC) normalized method, which measures absorbability over time, Nordic Naturals’ curcumin products boast 285 times better absorbability. No matter which method is used, it’s clear that Longvida Optimized Curcumin offers absorption and benefits that other forms of curcumin can’t.
For centuries, turmeric’s unique, earthy flavor has been reason enough for countless people to use it as a cooking ingredient on a regular basis. Since then, we’ve learned the powerful micronutrient curcumin is the reason behind turmeric’s therapeutic properties as well as its signature golden color. Since the body can’t efficiently absorb curcumin in its native form, adding a bioavailable curcumin supplement is a smart and healthy way to spice up your daily health routine.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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