This month, NFM's secret shopper tested a natural foods co-op in the Southwest's knowledge on the trending ingredient curcumin.
NFM: Can I get enough curcumin by eating turmeric every day?
Store: It is possible, but you’d really have to eat a lot of turmeric. Basically, that means eating curry every day, which might be a little difficult to do.
NFM: What if I purchased powdered turmeric and sprinkled in my food?
Store: That would work too. I don’t know off-hand how much curcumin you actually get from a certain amount of turmeric, but I can find out.
How did this retailer do?
Our expert educator: Duffy MacKay, ND, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at Council for Responsible Nutrition
Curcumin is not an essential nutrient, so there is no recommended daily value. Thus, “getting enough” is difficult to address. The retailer might have advised that many people look to curcumin to support the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. If that were the case for this customer, the retailer could’ve said that people generally require more than could reasonably be obtained from eating turmeric, and in that situation, supplements should be considered.
Because curcumin is not well absorbed, a supplement formulated to improve bioavailability would work best. Kudos to the retailer for not overpromising and for not making claims that would be considered treatment claims and therefore be inappropriate at best and illegal at worst. Some research has shown benefit in tumor reduction, but if the customer was interested in curcumin for that purpose, the best response would’ve been to talk to a health care practitioner.