Curcumin’s Bioavailability

Cucumin’s bioavailability, meaning the amount of Curcumin ingested that is actually able to be absorbed and utilized by the body, is a complex issue. Curcumin is highly beneficial; however, on its own, Curcumin’s bioavailability is very limited.

There’s the old saying, “You are what you eat,” but is that really accurate? Shouldn’t the new saying be, “You are what you absorb?” Yes! No matter how well you eat or what miraculous supplement you take, if the absorption process is ineffective so are the nutrients you’re taking in. This is evident when Curcumin’s bioavailability is explored.

As beneficial as Curcumin is, inexpensive supplements contain only somewhere between 2-5% (if you’re lucky) of the desired compound. Even then, can you actually absorb it? Probably not!

Curcumin’s bioavailability or lack thereof is supported by the findings of the study Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems and Promises, published in 2007 in Molecular Pharmaceutics. The four scientists conducting the study, Drs. Anand, Kunnumakkara, Newman, and Aggarwal, found low levels of Curcumin in plasma and tissue levels, even after high doses of Curcumin were administered. Their observations led to the conclusions that Curcumin’s bioavailability was hindered by poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid systemic elimination.

Increasing Curcumin’s Bioavailability

The suggested approaches to increasing Curcumin’s bioavailability included using another agent to aid or facilitate in the absorption process. Plant extracts also known as phytosomes are bound to phosphatidylcholine (PC), a component that’s essential for human cells. When orally ingested, PC is absorbed very well by the body. When combined with Curcumin in a phospholipid complex, it aids absorption, enabling the curcumin to reach the cells that directly benefit from it.

Improvements in Curcumin’s Bioavailability

Indena S.p.A, the leading company in botanical extract technology have discovered the key to improving curcumin absorption. By using phytosome technology they have created Meriva®, a patented curcumin product with PC attached.

Meriva has been shown to have superior bioavailability when compared to normal curcumin, according to a study published in 2007 by the Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology journal. (2)

Meriva® combines Curcumin with soy lecithin in a patented formulation for an overall content of 20% Curcumin. What makes Meriva® different is its classification as a phospholipid complex, which facilitates an increase in Curcumin bioavailability. This compares to taking unformulated Curcumin products in much higher dosages just to obtain the same results.

Even with Curcumin’s bioavailability issues, its restorative role in fighting various diseases is warranted. Due to the recent advancements made in Curcumin’s bioavailability, Curcumin can now move ahead even further as a therapeutic agent in preventing and treating chronic and acute disease.

An eight-month human trial carried out recently showed Meriva supported a healthy inflammatory response and individuals experienced improvements in both the clinical and biochemical end-points associated with joint health.


Anand, Preetha, Ajaikumar Kunnumakkara, Robert Newman, and Bharat Aggarwal. “Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems and Promises.” Molecular Pharmaceutics. 4. no. 6 (2007): 807-818. (accessed April 23, 2012).

Kiefer, Dale. “Novel Turmeric Compound Delivers Much More Curcumin to the Blood.” Life Extension Magazine. (2007). (accessed April 23, 2012).

Marczylo TH, Verschoyle RD, Cooke DN, Morazzoni P, Steward WP, Gescher AJ., Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2007 Jul;60(2):171-7. Epub 2006 Oct 19.

Belcaro G., Cesarone M.R., Dugall M. et al., Altern Med Rev. 2010 Dec;15(4):337-44.


About Health Writer - Anna Jones

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