Turmeric (Curcumin) Supplement Label Guide: Avoiding Marketing Tricks

6 minute read

There seems to be a supplement for everything these days. Turmeric, and the curcumin it contains, is one of the most popular supplements around because of the extensive health benefits of the yellow spice. When it comes to getting those health benefits, there are a few danger signs to look for on supplement labels.

Turmeric or curcumin manufacturers (most marketers in fact) employ deceitful tactics to get you to buy their supplement. While there is nothing wrong with marketing, there is something wrong with tricking consumers into buying an inferior product.

Buzzwords and confusing names and data draw your attention to what they want you to see. What you need to be concerned with, however, is what they don’t want you to see. Here’s everything you need to look out for turmeric supplement shopping.

Potency Problems

Turmeric is a popular supplement for fighting inflammation. With so many diseases being linked to inflammation, turmeric or curcumin become very popular. When it comes to the effectiveness of turmeric, potency is important.

Manufacturers will use this to their advantage and boast “high dosage” curcumin supplements. These bold claims will certainly grab your attention, but while your attention is on that, you are missing what matters.

What they actually put in, or more importantly don’t put in, is where your attention needs to be.

Popular supplements will promise you 1500 milligrams of turmeric, which sounds pretty good. Upon closer inspection, however, you see that you get 150 milligrams of the 95% standardized curcumin that you want and a bunch of fillers you don’t need.

Curcuminoid Percentage

Almost every single turmeric supplement on the market claims to provide turmeric extract that has 95% curcuminods. It is these compounds that are responsible for the powerful health benefits of turmeric.

You may be thinking that this sounds ideal, but there is something very wrong with this picture.

You can take in all of that extract that you want, but all those curcuminoids are essentially useless. It cannot be absorbed or used by your body. In fact, the supplemental capsule would be more useful, opened up and sprinkled over your curry dinner. The only curcumin worth purchasing is one that is clinically tested and proven.


In order for curcumin to deliver the health benefits you seek, it must be properly absorbed into your body. Numerous studies have proven that ordinary curcumin has very low bioavailability, which means it is poorly absorbed. That means that most of it is excreted as waste before it has time to reach the target cells and tissues.

Supplements that are proud of their 95% curcuminoids come with this low bioavailability. This means you not only get less potent curcumin, but it will end up in the toilet along with your money.

A typical 500-milligram generic turmeric capsule contains 3% curcumin, which is also poorly absorbable. Manufacturers throw in black pepper and convince consumers that this magic ingredient enhances absorption.

To get the same magical potion, you can pour some turmeric and black pepper from your kitchen into water. Sadly, it won’t taste good and it will do nothing for your health.

Combining turmeric with black pepper doesn’t enhance bioavailability to the extent that you need. Instead, you need to opt for a supplement that has increased bioavailability.

Hiding Behind the Blend

Listing proprietary blends in label ingredients is a common marketing tactic. It sounds very official and important but is nothing more than a disguise.

Behind the mask is a list of generic and ineffective ingredients. Consumers are duped into thinking there is a magical secret formula, but there is only a bunch of smoke.

Every now and then a generic supplement will list an important ingredient in this proprietary blend. This is designed to grab your attention and convince you that the blend is full of goodness.

By not stating all the ingredients, you never know what you are getting, which can be trouble for your health. Even with that one good ingredient, the dose is likely to be so small that it essentially isn’t there at all.

The blend ingredients are also listed by volume, so the first name will be present in the highest quantity. This is often generic turmeric powder followed by 95% curcuminoids.

Without knowing the ratio, or whether or not the turmeric is clinically tested, these top ingredients are useless.

You Get What You Pay For

When it comes to choosing a health supplement, cheaper is not better. You don’t have to buy the most expensive, you just need to know how to read the label.

You will notice that turmeric supplements can be bought for anywhere between $6 and $40. This is not about a manufacturer or store giving you the better deal, it is about ripping you off.

The cheaper product contains cheaper ingredients. They can offer it for such a low price because they cut production costs down by using generic ingredients and cheap fillers.

Your wallet may be happy about that $6 bargain, but that won’t last long. After months of no results or improvements, you will see that you got what you paid for.

Sadly, your health will take the biggest hit, which means you didn’t really save anything at all.

The Bottom Line

There are many turmeric and curcumin supplements on the market and with many being dishonest and confusing, it can be dangerous to choose one. This is the one case where it is okay to judge a book by its cover because the label will tell you all you need to know.

Patented and tested ingredients, with no additives, fillers or fancy jargon is what you need to see.