Turmeric and DHA

Turmeric is about 5% curcumins by weight, or it takes about 20 grams of turmeric to get 1 gram of curcumins.

But you can’t go eating it by the spoonful because: 1) that’s nasty; 2) it’s messy and stains everything yellow; and 3) it’s not bioavailable, like, at all.

2g curcumin vs. 2g curcumin + 20mg piperine:

Fortunately, bioavailability is drastically increased by black pepper &/or dietary fat.  For this reason, most curcumin supps contain either piperine or some sort of lipids.  I’m not a big fan of piperine because it seems to non-selectively increase the absorption of tons of things – and there are some things we don’t absorb for a reason: they’re toxic… so I’d rather just use a little pepper and take it with some seafood.

Why turmeric?

It’s very safe (eg, Chainani-Wu et al., 2003) and there seems to be nothing curcumin can’t do…

Why turmeric & seafood?

Synergistic anti-inflammatory effect (Saw et al., 2010).  Also, being rich in fat, seafood should increase curcumin bioavailability.

Curcumin & DHA kill breast, pancreatic, and colon cancer cells (Altenburg et al., 2010, Swamy et al., 2011, & Fenton et al., 2013) (probably others, too).

And most importantly,

Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders (Wu et al., 2015)!  It does this by actually increasing the enzymes involved in converting alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) into DHA.  Normally, this conversion is poor: in the figure below, feeding ALA alone had no effect on brain DHA, but combined with curcumin caused a 50% increase!

Curcumin also inhibits lipid peroxidation.  Win-win.

My advice (since I generally assume most people are DHA deficient) (sorry): add some turmeric & pepper to your mayonnaise or salad dressing or something.  Due to the synergistic nature, it doesn’t have to be a lot*.

*actual dose?  I don’t know.  If taken consistently, with black pepper & dietary fat, with meals, might be just a few grams.

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