Turmeric has been recognised in parts of South Asia as something of a medical marvel for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It is considered a superfood par excellence in India.
However, many of us in the rest of the world just know it as an ingredient that turns our food yellow and makes it taste kind of bold and earthy.
So, what’s the deal?
In recent years, we have begun to cotton on to the facts – we in the West have begun to take note of the natural, plant-based health and traditional medical practices such as ayurvedic medicine seen in the East. This includes recognising turmeric and curcumin as the brilliant foods and supplements that they are.
There is a lot of confusion, however. There is confusion as to the scientific evidence underpinning this renaissance. There is confusion over the differences between turmeric and curcumin. And there is confusion, as there always is, with what supplements are worth taking, and which are sub-par.
There’s a lot to get through, here, so let’s put our best foot forward and get into reviewing the best turmeric supplements available in the UK.
Turmeric Supplements Explained
Turmeric (more properly known as curcuma longa), is known as a member of the zingiberaceae plant family by botanical buffs. I’m not a botanical buff, and I’m assuming that many of you are not. Suffice it to say that it’s a compact bushy plant which thrives in regions where there is plenty of rain fall accompanied by warm temperatures.
Hence it grows well and is mainly found in South Asia.
We farm it mostly for its roots (rhizomes). These can be eaten raw or cooked from fresh. However, it is mostly found and used dried, ground into powder, and used as a spice in many Eastern dishes. This is how most supplements come – powdered, in capsules.
You can also find turmeric oil, though it’s far less common than powder.
As a foodstuff, turmeric is a spice that gives a deep, earthy flavour to any sauce. It also gives a lovely yellow ochre colour to any food, making everything just a little bit more appetising. It is a core ingredient of many curry dishes, though it can also be used to season meat and veg dry.
As a supplement, turmeric brings a great many health benefits.
The Health Benefits Of Turmeric
The main reason any of us might consider using turmeric as a supplement is that it’s a fantastic anti-inflammatory compound. People suffering with arthritis or any similar health conditions will benefit a great deal from taking it regularly. Athletes looking to diminish the impact of their active lifestyles on their bones and looking to ease the presence and severity of delayed onset of muscular soreness (DOMS) will also benefit from these anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric is also a natural analgesic (pain reliever), particularly potent for joint pain, reinforcing the benefits to be gained from those suffering from symptoms of arthritis.
Turmeric is also a fantastic antioxidant. Oxidation, put simply, is any chemical reaction caused by the addition of oxygen. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, though it is often inconvenient – think rusted pipes or copper statues turning bright green. This generally occurs in the presence of water, which contains and thus carries oxygen.
In terms of our own bodily health, oxidation can cause the production of dangerous free radicals. These can cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA, and are often thought to be the main culprits behind certain types of cancer and various degenerative diseases, like atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Taking antioxidants like turmeric can halt or even reverse these effects. Fewer free radicals will be released, allowing people to greatly reduce their risk from these diseases.
Finally, turmeric is a great digestive aid. This is largely down to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as above.
The Difference Between Turmeric And Curcumin
Turmeric and curcumin are sometimes used interchangeably (they shouldn’t be). They are also often mistaken for one another or included together (fair enough).
They are, however, different.
Curcumin is a phenol. Phenols are natural chemical compounds produced to serve a purpose related to the environment in which an organism is found. They might help to discourage predators, for example, or protect from local diseases or parasites. They often have properties that bring a great many benefits to people who ingest them.
Curcumin is currently most celebrated as an antioxidant, and is used for health and cosmetic (in this case, anti-ageing) purposes. Ayurvedic medicine has long used it for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and it is currently under investigation as an immunomodulatory and chemosensitizing agent. There may be some great potential within it for fighting cancer.
It is the main bioactive component of turmeric; it plays an important role in giving turmeric the health benefits it offers.
However, curcumin only accounts for a small portion of the total turmeric rhizome (2-5%, in general). Most of the rest is highly fibrous carbohydrate (about 70%), a little protein (around 7%) and a wide array of vitamins, minerals, essential oils and resin.
These extra bits are incredibly useful. As we will see, turmeric without curcumin offers some very significant health benefits.
Our Top Turmeric Supplements
So now you know what’s what with Turmeric, let’s take a look at the 6 best turmeric supplements available to buy in the UK.
Weightworld Turmeric, Ginger & Black Pepper
One capsule daily will be enough to set yourself up for success, taking care of many of your healthcare needs whilst delivering all the benefits for which turmeric is well known. Each capsule includes a powerful 505mg serving of top-drawer turmeric, as well as organic ginger and black pepper for improved absorption (a common combination that you’ll see cropping up a lot in this list).
Weightworld’s Organic Turmeric with Ginger & Black Pepper is completely vegetarian and vegan friendly. Again, this crops up a lot, and it shouldn’t be a big ask. However, you would likely be surprised at how many supplement companies use animal gelatine in their capsules. It’s always nice to see a company clearly outline their veggie credentials.
They are perfect for anybody on the go, making the most of an active lifestyle, as they are a simple single tablet dose daily. The black pepper and ginger means that it will all get to work quickly, with maximum uptake, keeping your joints fresh and healthy no matter what you do at the gym (within reason!).
It’s also good for elderly care. So many older people have pretty long and complex healthcare routines, consisting of a laundry list of medication and supplements. Simply adding a single capsule as a full day’s dose stops things from getting too out of hand, whilst delivering a potent dose of everything needed to keep their joints healthy and their free-radical count low.
It’s best to take Weightworld’s Organic Turmeric with Ginger & Black Pepper at the same time every day, preferably with or just after a meal.
Nutravita Organic Turmeric
You get a 3 month supply of one of the highest strength Organic Turmeric supplements money can buy with Nutravita Organic Turmeric. Each bottle contains 180 capsules, with each dose (2 capsules) giving you 1340mg of Organic Turmeric (670mg per capsule), 80mg of Organic Ginger (40mg per capsule), and 20mg of Organic Black Pepper (10mg per capsule).
All in all, I’ve got to say that this kind of supply and dosage makes Nutravita’s Organic Turmeric incredible value for money.
Their ingredients are all top-notch, too. Their supplements are vegan and vegetarian friendly, which, as above, is always a plus and never a guarantee. They also explicitly contain no excipients, fillers, or binders (again, always a plus and certainly never a guarantee). Nutrivita pride themselves on only using ingredients which are sustainably sourced, non-GMO and allergen-free.
The quality of their ingredients is backed up by third parties. They have had everything third party lab tested, which is something I always try to look out for in supplements. A manufacturer can say what they want about their products, but they will quite obviously have a vested interest in making it all sound good. Third party testing gets around this.
The lab they use is UKAS accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standards (which means it’s above board and they all know what they’re doing!). The results are further analysed and certified by another top lab.
The compounds they use are all sourced organically from India, and the Turmeric capsules have been manufactured in the UK. Everything has been Soil Association Certified Organic.
There are few supplement companies that work so hard to get their customers such high-quality ingredients.
How do you one-up such a good selection of ingredients as Nutravita Organic Tumeric?
This is where VitaPremium Organic Turmeric Curcumin comes into play. It’s sort of the top drawer of the top drawer. Each serving gives you 2130mg of the highest potency natural, organic turmeric, enhanced with ginger and black pepper for better absorption as is standard.
As with Nutravita Organic Tumeric, everything here is Soil Association Certified Organic. There are no artificial ingredients, bulkers, fillers or anything nasty like that – it’s just pure organic turmeric curcumin, organic ginger, and organic black pepper. It is all vegetarian and vegan friendly.
Again, as with Nutravita Organic Tumeric, you get a three-month supply (180 capsules), though the manufacturer recommends trying three capsules per day (I personally think this is a little overkill – two should be plenty – but you should work out what works best for you, of course).
The main difference is strength and, to a lesser degree, the quality. It’s sort of the best of the best, for those who really need it.
Prowise Turmeric is comparable to Nutravita Organic Tumeric in terms of the amount delivered in each dose. Each 1440mg daily serving (2 capsules) contains 1340mg of organic turmeric (670mg per capsule), 80mg of ginger (40mg per capsule), and 20mg of black pepper (10mg per capsule) (are you starting to see a pattern, yet?).
So far, so good. That’s a decent amount of turmeric per serving, with the requisite amount of ginger and black pepper to make sure that all of the active ingredients are absorbed properly, efficiently, and quickly.
Prowise also use incredibly good, high-quality ingredients, all naturally sourced. They are rigorous in their quality control, from the blend, right through to a serious amount of follow up testing. Their capsules have been created by some of the top healthcare professionals in the field and are all organically certified by the Soil Association. This guarantees that you don’t get any nasty, unwanted chemicals, with only the 100% natural goodness you’re looking for.
Their capsules are free from lactose, salt, starch, maize, wheat (and gluten), yeast, dairy, artificial preservatives, colours, GMO products, fillers, binders… the list goes on. Essentially, anyone can take them (including, of course, veggies and vegans) without worrying about what they’re putting into their body.
In fact, for me there is very little to separate Prowise’s turmeric from Nutravita Organic Tumeric. They are similar doses and similar quality, with similar standards in ethics and testing involved. Those who love one will invariably love the other – I do, and I did.
If there’s one thing to set them apart, it’s the wider ethos of their company. They partner with Vitamin Angels UK, a charity which donates life-saving nutritional support to children under five, new mothers, and pregnant women who are at risk of malnutrition. Every time you buy from them, you are helping someone vulnerable to live a slightly healthier life.
They go on about it a bit, but fair play to them – Prowise have earned that right.
Again, we’re looking at a similar ballpark in terms of dose per serving as we get with Prowise and Nutravita Organic Tumeric, here. Sports Supplies’ capsules deliver 1260 mg of turmeric per serving (630mg per capsule). Though slightly lower than its competitors, the difference would be splitting hairs – it’s a decent amount.
This is slightly higher than average. I’m left wondering where the extra is needed – would it make that much of a difference? However, for everyone out there for whom it won’t really matter, there will be someone for whom those extra mgs mean the world. If you feel you’re not getting enough from other turmeric supplements, give these a go – it might be an issue with absorption, which you shouldn’t get with this kind of formula.
Everything is organic, with the usual accolades with which this comes. I could find evidence of no extra certification, but I have no reason to doubt the validity of their claims nor the quality of their product. Indeed, many people have taken them to fantastic effect, myself included.
Everything is formulated in the UK to a high level of care and attention.
They are a very decent contender for the middle ground in this list.
Howard And James
Let’s finish up with some stronger stuff. Each serving of Howard and James’ turmeric gives you 2265mg, broken down into 2100mg of organic turmeric, 150mg of organic ginger, and 15mg of black pepper. This is their maximum strength stuff, all pure and unadulterated.
OK, so it’s not that strong. Each recommended dose is, but they are designed for you to take three capsules per dose. If you take three of anything on this list, you’ll get a good turmeric hit. But their explicit instruction to take three, and the fact that they are packaged accordingly, is quite serious business.
This is where I would go if I were in dire need of turmeric’s health giving benefits. No fuss, nothing.
It really is pure, too, the same as most on this list. There are no artificial preservatives, colours, flavours, or sweeteners. It’s all organic, non-GMO, and all suitable for vegetarians and vegans. No bulkers, binders, fillers, or any other agents… you get the idea. Everything is made in the UK, and it’s all produced to the highest possible hygiene and manufacturing standards.
They mean serious business with this one. I really, really like them.
I also really like Howard and James for their customer care. They have a reputation for excellence in this regard, and their reputation is very much deserved and well-earned. They are dedicated to not only providing their customers with premium nutritional supplements derived from the purest sourced ingredients (which they manage), but also making sure that any interaction with them is positive, friendly, and efficient.
It sort of sums up their whole ethos. Full marks from me.
Still not sure whether a turmeric supplement is for you? Check out the most commonly asked questions about turmeric below.
Is Turmeric A Fad?
In short, no, though it’s easy to see why people think it might be. For many, turmeric is simply too good to be true. It is also all too often lumped in under the umbrella of ‘alternative medicine’ or ‘natural remedy’, with all the non-scientific connotations that entails.
However, modern science has poked it. It has scrutinised turmeric and is continuing to do so. The results are very promising.
We are rapidly developing a better sense of what plants can do for our health, but also how they do it – what the chemical compounds contained in traditional remedies do. It is this, as much as the traditional roots of its use, that has brought turmeric to the foreground in recent years.
Turmeric, and to a certain extent by extension curcumin (see above), have great health-giving properties, and all of the aforementioned benefits have been scientifically justified. Turmeric without curcumin has also been proven to be beneficial.
For example, a study investigating curcumin-free turmeric (CFT) components concluded that they not only had anti-inflammatory properties, but that they could also be very beneficial in the prevention and treatment of cancer and diabetes.
Another study compared curcuminoids- and oil-free aqueous extract of turmeric with curcuminoids and turmerones (volatile oil). The authors concluded that the former “showed considerable anti-inflammatory effects against acute and chronic inflammation and the effects were comparable to those of curcuminoids and turmerones.”
Curcumin is great. Turmeric as a whole has lot more to offer, however.
Should I Increase My Turmeric Intake?
Yes, probably. The main question you need to ask yourself, however, is whether you stand to benefit from doing so. I’ve run through all the benefits of regular turmeric supplementation above. Do any of them seem particularly important to you?
For example, do you suffer with sore joints? It needn’t be as severe or diagnosable as arthritis or osteoporosis. We all get joint pain in some degree or another, especially as we age, especially if we regularly put a lot of pressure into them (take note, those with an active lifestyle).
If so, and if you are struggling to find a cure, relying instead simply on pain management, then turmeric could be beneficial to you.
Do you have poor digestion? Though a change in your whole diet to include more fibre from leafy greens and pulses might be in order, turmeric could also help. It can settle your stomach and make things more regular.
Is there a history of cancer in your family, or of any degenerative diseases? Do you stand a higher chance than average of developing them? For example, if you used to smoke or drink heavily, you may be at a higher risk of developing cancer. If you have had any major head trauma, or have played any contact sports like rugby or boxing, you may be at a higher risk of developing some form of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Taking turmeric now could lessen this.
Do you simply want to benefit from all of the above, and decrease your risk of developing cancer or any other nastiness, and improve your joint mobility and digestive health? (Hint, you probably should).
Turmeric will be good for you. Give it a go. Try it for three months and see how you feel.