Is There a Best Time to Take Turmeric?


Turmeric is a popular Indian spice that has been used in cooking and medicine for centuries. It contains curcumin, a compound with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In recent years, turmeric has gained immense popularity as a health supplement due to its potential health benefits. But when it comes to getting the most out of this super spice, many wonder - is there an optimal time to take turmeric supplements?

In this comprehensive guide, we will dive into the research behind turmeric and curcumin, look at the possible benefits of optimizing when you take it, and provide tips for maximizing absorption. Read on to learn if timing matters when taking turmeric supplements.

Is There a Best Time to Take Turmeric

An Overview of Turmeric and Curcumin

Turmeric is a yellow-orange spice that comes from the Curcuma longa plant. It is one of the main ingredients in curry powder and gives it that vibrant golden color. Turmeric has a warm, bitter flavor and is used in cooking, especially in South Asian cuisine.

The medicinal compound in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is responsible for turmeric's vibrant color and most of its therapeutic effects. Research has shown curcumin to be a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It modulates the body's inflammatory pathways and can help reduce oxidative stress.

Curcumin may benefit conditions like arthritis, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and even delay brain aging. It’s thought to work by interacting with multiple molecular targets involved in inflammation.

But there's a catch - curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. It’s hydrophobic, meaning it does not dissolve well in water. As a result, only a small portion of the curcumin you ingest gets absorbed intact.

So how can you maximize absorption of curcumin? Let's first look at the factors that affect how well it is absorbed and utilized.

What Affects Curcumin Absorption?

There are several factors that influence how much curcumin your body absorbs when you take a turmeric supplement:

Bioavailability Enhancers

Bioavailability refers to the amount of a compound that enters circulation and is available for the body to use. Substances that enhance curcumin's bioavailability can significantly increase levels in the bloodstream.

Common bioavailability enhancers added to curcumin supplements include piperine, phospholipids, and oils. Piperine is an alkaloid from black pepper that can enhance curcumin absorption by up to 2000%.

Fat Content

Curcumin is fat-soluble, so consuming it with fats or oils can increase absorption. Studies show that adding even small amounts of oils like coconut or olive oil to curcumin dramatically boosts bioavailability.

Food Effects

Taking curcumin with a meal seems to increase bioavailability compared to taking it on an empty stomach. One study found a 2000% increase in absorption when curcumin was ingested during a meal.

Gut Health

The state of your digestive system also impacts curcumin absorption. Conditions like leaky gut or inflammatory bowel disease can impair absorption. Optimizing gut health with prebiotics, probiotics and anti-inflammatory foods may improve curcumin bioavailability.

Theracurmin vs Regular Curcumin

Theracurmin is a patented form of curcumin with superior absorption. It uses microscopic particles and natural emulsifiers to boost bioavailability up to 27-fold higher than regular curcumin extracts.

Now that we know the major factors that affect absorption, let’s look at how timing turmeric supplements with meals or other nutrients could further optimize curcumin levels.

The Benefits of Optimizing When You Take Turmeric

Taking turmeric supplements with certain foods or nutrients seems to substantially increase how much curcumin your body absorbs and utilizes.

Here are some of the evidence-based benefits of optimizing when you take turmeric:

  • Increased curcumin blood levels - Taking turmeric with fats, oils or bioavailability enhancers results in significantly higher plasma curcumin levels compared to taking it alone.
  • Enhanced anti-inflammatory effects - Achieving higher curcumin levels enhances its ability to combat inflammation. This leads to greater therapeutic effects.
  • Improved antioxidant capacity - Higher circulating curcumin levels bolster antioxidant defenses and help mitigate oxidative stress.
  • Targeted benefits - Timing turmeric intake may enhance its effects on certain conditions like arthritis, metabolic and heart health.
  • Fewer required doses - Absorbing more curcumin per dose means you may require less supplementation to reach targeted levels.
  • Mitigate side effects - Enhanced absorption can minimize curcumin passing into the intestines, reducing risk of digestive side effects.

The bottom line is timing your intake right can dramatically increase how much curcumin your body absorbs. Let's look at some of the best times to take turmeric.

The Best Time to Take Turmeric Supplements

Optimizing when you take turmeric supplements can really pay off in terms of enhanced absorption and benefits. Here are some of the best times to take turmeric:

With Meals

Multiple studies demonstrate taking curcumin with food significantly enhances absorption. One trial showed a 2000% increase in bioavailability when taken with a meal!

It’s believed that food helps stimulate bile production which improves solubility and absorption of curcumin in the gut. Make sure to take turmeric capsules during or just after a meal for optimal effects.

Tip: For even greater absorption, take with fats or oils like coconut, olive or flaxseed oil.

Morning on an Empty Stomach

While curcumin absorption is enhanced when taken with food, an empty stomach may also have benefits.

One study reported taking curcumin first thing in the morning led to rapid absorption and higher peak blood levels compared to later in the day.

Some nutritionists recommend taking turmeric before eating anything. This allows it to quickly reach peak levels before being metabolized and excreted.

Be aware that curcumin doses higher than 500 mg on an empty stomach may increase risk of side effects like headache or nausea in sensitive people.

Night Before Bed

There’s some evidence that taking curcumin before bed leads to enhanced absorption and utilization overnight.

One study found that a bedtime dose kept blood levels elevated for over 10 hours longer compared to morning ingestion.

Curcumin ingested in the evening may be better absorbed due to slower digestive motility and longer GI tract transit time while sleeping.

Consider taking your daily curcumin supplement about 30 minutes before bed to potentially maximize overnight absorption.

After Exercise

Emerging research suggests taking curcumin after exercise may amplify its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Intense physical activity can induce short-term inflammation and oxidative stress. Curcumin helps counteract these effects, reducing muscle damage and accelerating recovery.

Try taking a curcumin supplement within 1 hour after your workout. Just be sure to combine it with piperine or oils for increased bioavailability.

Before High-Fat Meals

While dietary fats can boost curcumin absorption, they can also impair its function. Curcumin’s fat-binding activity can be hindered when excess fats are present.

Research shows taking curcumin 30-60 minutes before a high-fat meal may allow it to be fully absorbed before much dietary fat reaches the digestive tract.

This helps maximize bioavailability and preserve curcumin’s therapeutic effects. Try this strategy before indulging in fatty, greasy or fried foods.

With Black Pepper

Remember piperine from black pepper can enhance curcumin bioavailability by up to 2000%?

Be sure to take turmeric supplements formulated with Bioperine or add a pinch of black pepper to food when cooking with turmeric.

For maximum effects, include about 10-20 mg piperine with every 2-4 grams of turmeric supplement you take. The combo takes absorption to the next level!

How to Use These Timing Strategies

Here are some simple ways to implement these evidence-based strategies:

  • Take curcumin capsules during meals rich in healthy fats like avocado, nuts, olive oil or fatty fish.
  • Add turmeric powder or extract to smoothies with coconut or flax oil for an absorption boost.
  • Sprinkle turmeric in eggs, soups or stews along with black pepper before eating.
  • Make a “Golden Paste” using turmeric powder, coconut oil and black pepper taken daily.
  • Choose a curcumin supplement with piperine or emulsifiers for increased bioavailability.
  • Set a reminder to take curcumin supplements just before bed or after a workout.

Pro Tip: Consider alternating between different timings to cover all your bases. For example, take with breakfast some days and before bed on other days.

Potential Side Effects of Turmeric Supplements

Enhancing curcumin absorption can help you avoid side effects by minimizing the dosage needed. But be aware that turmeric may still cause:

  • Upset stomach when taken in large amounts or on an empty stomach
  • Blood thinning, so those on anticoagulant medications should consult a doctor
  • Increased bile secretion, which can worsen gallbladder problems
  • Interactions with medications including antidepressants and blood sugar-lowering drugs

Stick to recommended dosages and avoid taking turmeric supplements if you have gallstones or a bleeding disorder. Discuss with your doctor first if taking any medications.

Putting it All Together - A Recap

Let’s do a quick recap of everything we’ve covered about finding the best time to take turmeric:

  • Curcumin is poorly absorbed on its own so timing and combinations are key.
  • Take with food, oils or piperine to significantly increase absorption and effects.
  • Morning, bedtime or after workouts may enable rapid uptake and extended elevation of curcumin levels.
  • Consume 30-60 minutes before fatty meals to maximize absorption and function.
  • Alternate different timing strategies morning, noon or night to cover all your bases.

The bottom line is that timing turmeric intake right really optimizes the health benefits. Take this super spice at the right times to reduce inflammation, combat oxidative stress and keep your body feeling its best.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have some questions about when to take turmeric? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

Should I take turmeric before or after eating?

The best time to take turmeric is during or just after a meal. Taking it before eating on an empty stomach is okay but can cause side effects in sensitive people.

What’s the best time of day to take turmeric?

Two optimal times are morning on an empty stomach to achieve peak absorption and at night before bed to prolong elevated curcumin levels.

How often should I take turmeric per day?

Most studies use turmeric dosages ranging from 500-2000 mg daily. It’s best to split this into 2-3 doses taken with food to enhance absorption.

Should I drink turmeric tea before bed?

Yes, drinking turmeric tea before sleep may promote overnight absorption. Be sure to add a fat like coconut milk or a pinch of black pepper.

Is it better to take turmeric before or after exercise?

Research shows taking turmeric supplements within 1 hour after exercise counteracts inflammation and oxidative damage from your workout.


There are clearly optimal times to take turmeric that can maximize absorption and benefits. The ideal time depends on factors like dosage, meal content and your own body. Getting the timing right provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects exactly when you need them most.

Remember these key points:

  • Take curcumin with fat or piperine to increase absorption by up to 2000%
  • Absorption is enhanced when taken during, just before or after meals
  • Consume first thing in the morning and before bed to potentially extend elevations in blood levels
  • Take shortly after workouts or before high-fat meals for targeted benefits

So give turmeric timing a try and see if you notice a difference in how you feel. When this super-root is taken at the right time, curcumin absorption and benefits soar to their highest potential.

What's the difference between turmeric and curcumin?

Turmeric is a spice made from the roots of the Curcuma longa plant. Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric that gives it its vibrant color and medicinal effects. Curcumin supplements contain highly concentrated curcumin extracts.

How much curcumin is in turmeric?

Raw turmeric root contains about 3% curcumin. Turmeric powder has slightly higher curcumin content closer to 5%. Curcumin supplements are standardized to 95% curcumin and enhanced for better absorption.

Are there contraindications to taking turmeric?

Turmeric may not be suitable for those with gallstones or bile duct obstructions due to its bile stimulating effects. It can also increase bleeding risk in those taking anticoagulant drugs. Those who are pregnant, trying to conceive or breastfeeding should avoid medicinal doses of turmeric.

What's better - turmeric capsules or powder?

Turmeric capsules provide more consistent dosing and higher curcumin concentrations compared to powder. However, powder may be better absorbed when mixed into food and oil. Both provide benefits depending on your needs and preferences.

How long does it take for turmeric supplements to work?

The time it takes to feel benefits from turmeric varies based on the condition being treated. Acute inflammation may improve within a few doses, while chronic health problems can take 4-8 weeks of daily use to experience effects.

Can I take turmeric indefinitely or do I need to cycle it?

Most research has evaluated daily turmeric use for 2-3 months without issues. However, some experts suggest taking a break periodically such as one week off every month. Consult your health provider.

Are there any negative interactions between turmeric and medications?

Turmeric can interact with certain medications including antidepressants, diabetes drugs, antacids and blood thinners. Those taking any medications should ask their doctor before using turmeric supplements.


Emerging evidence demonstrates taking turmeric supplements at specific times of day results in far greater absorption and utilization of curcumin. Studies show curcumin uptake increases up to 2000% when consumed with fats, oils or black pepper due to enhanced solubility. The best times to take turmeric are during or just after meals, in the morning on an empty stomach to reach peak levels, before bed to prolong elevation, and after exercise to reduce inflammation. Taking curcumin 30-60 minutes before fatty meals preserves its activity. Alternating different timing strategies morning, noon and night provides benefits round the clock. Properly timed doses maximize anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects while preventing side effects. Those on medications should consult a doctor before using turmeric supplements due to potential interactions. Optimizing when you take turmeric can really pay off in terms of boosted absorption, bioavailability and targeted health benefits.

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