A new study has found that having a daily dose of curcumin – the active ingredient in turmeric may improve memory and mood in people with age-related memory loss. Could this be beneficial for you?
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study randomly assigned either a placebo or 90mg of curcumin twice daily for 18 months (180mg per day total) to forty adults between the ages of 50-90 years with mild memory complaints.
Those who took curcumin experienced markedly improved memory and attention abilities. People taking curcumin improved their memory tests by 28% over 18 months. This group also noted mood improvements, and their brain PET scans showed less amyloid and tau signals for Alzheimer’s.
According to Dr Gary Small, director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA’s Longevity Center and of the geriatric psychiatry division at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and the study’s first author:
“Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression,”
Curcumin is the powerful antioxidant residing in turmeric and is responsible for giving the spice its unique, bright yellow colour. If you have ever cooked with turmeric you will know how intense this colour is!
To reap curcumin’s maximum benefits like this study, aim to take a minimum of 180mg a day in supplement form.
To increase its ability to be absorbed and utilised by your body, you should combine it with either piperine (black pepper extract), bromelain a digestive enzyme you can find in pineapple, or you can also mix it with quercetin – found in green leafy veggies – or healthy fats.
How to integrate curcumin into your diet
Open any Indian cookbook, and you will find a wide range of recipes featuring turmeric. You can also purchase this spice in powder form from speciality stores.
However, make sure to get the high-quality powder to minimise the potential for heavy metals including lead, copper, tin, zinc, cadmium and arsenic. Also, keep in mind that Turmeric only contains 3% curcumin, so you will need to consume it many times a week to get a similar dosage as in the study.
Alternatively, if you want a more potent option, without the mess associated with turmeric powder you can opt for a curcumin supplement such as Curcumin Complex, which features over 150mg standardised curcumin and the equivalent of 1780mg of turmeric powder per capsule boosted with piperine, ginger root, cayenne extract zinc and vitamin B6.