The Absorption of Turmeric

Turmeric (curcuma longa) is a yellow coloured spice that is widely commercially available throughout the world. Some of the uses of turmeric include flavouring food, colouring food, and preserving food. Turmeric also has significant medicinal effects that include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. The medicinal effects of turmeric may largely be related to the presence of the yellow pigment curcumin. However, for curcumin to have its effect inside the body, it needs to be absorbed. The oral bioavailability of turmeric has been shown to be poor due to its tautomer enol structure. The presence of curcumin in the gut leads to the formation of a number of metabolites including hexahydro curcumin, curcumin sulphate, curcumin glucuronide, tetrahydroxy curcumin and dihydrocurcumin. Some of these metabolites are absorbed and further metabolised in the liver, but others are passed to the colon, where they may be further metabolised by bacteria. Ultimately very little curcumin actually reaches the tissues, but effects from the metabolites of curcumin may explain the physiological response to its consumption. 

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Mughal, M.H. 2019. Turmeric polyphenols: A comprehensive review. Integrative Food, Nutrition and Metabolism. 6(10.15761)

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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