Turmeric Powder vs. Extract

Turmeric is a popular Indian spice that has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. The active compound in turmeric is curcumin, which gives turmeric its vibrant yellow color and provides numerous health benefits.

Turmeric Powder vs. Extract

Recently, turmeric and curcumin supplements have become very popular due to extensive research showing their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and disease-fighting properties.

Whole Turmeric Powder

Turmeric powder is made by drying and grinding the roots of the turmeric plant. It's what gives curries and mustards their distinct yellow color and slightly bitter, peppery taste.

Turmeric powder contains about 3-5% curcumin. The remaining components include other curcuminoids, oils, and fibers. Consuming 1⁄2-1 teaspoon (2.5-5 grams) of turmeric powder daily has been found to provide digestive and cognitive benefits.

However, most clinical studies showing health benefits have used turmeric extracts rather than powder. To get therapeutic effects from turmeric powder, you'd have to consume very large amounts.

Benefits of Turmeric Powder

  • Contains curcumin plus other beneficial curcuminoids
  • Provides other nutrients including fiber, oils, and micronutrients
  • Can be easily incorporated into cooking and recipes
  • Absorption may be enhanced when consumed with fats/oils in food

Turmeric Extract

Turmeric extract is produced by extracting and concentrating the curcuminoids from the turmeric root. This process typically boosts the curcumin content to 95% or more.

Extracts allow you to get a much higher dose of curcumin in a small capsule. Just 500 mg of turmeric extract may provide 400 mg of curcumin, compared to only 15 mg from 500 mg of turmeric powder.

Many studies showing benefits have used extracted turmeric with high curcumin content. Doses of 500-2000 mg of curcumin from extracts may provide therapeutic effects.

Benefits of Turmeric Extract

  • Provides a highly concentrated source of curcumin
  • Allows you to reach clinical doses easily
  • Less contamination with heavy metals or filth
  • Can be taken in capsules for convenience

Comparing Absorption

One concern with extracts is that curcumin has low bioavailability on its own and is poorly absorbed. Consuming turmeric powder along with oils, fats, or black pepper may increase absorption.

However, newer enhanced turmeric extract formulas contain agents like piperine to improve bioavailability. Overall, curcumin from quality extracts is likely better absorbed compared to powders.

Potential Side Effects

Both turmeric powder and extract are generally safe but can cause some mild side effects like upset stomach or diarrhea, especially at high doses. Extracts may be more likely to cause side effects since they provide very concentrated doses of curcumin.

Using Turmeric Powder and Extracts Together

You don't have to choose between turmeric powder or extract. Using both together gives you the benefits of whole turmeric powder along with the high curcumin content of an extract.

Try cooking with turmeric powder to take advantage of potential absorption boosters in fats and oils. Then also take a turmeric extract supplement to get a boost of curcumin.

Which is Better for You?

Here are some guidelines on when turmeric powder or extract may be more appropriate:

  • Turmeric powder - If you want to incorporate turmeric into cooking and recipes or drink it as golden milk or tea. Powder provides whole turmeric benefits.
  • Turmeric extract - If you want to achieve clinical curcumin doses for specific health conditions. Extracts provide more curcumin in a small dose.
  • Both - Using both turmeric powder and extract together gives you the benefits of whole turmeric along with high curcumin content.

Key Takeaway: Both turmeric powder and extract have unique benefits. Powder provides whole turmeric while extract delivers concentrated curcumin. Using both together can maximize effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to cook with turmeric powder or take a supplement?

Cooking with turmeric powder has the benefit of absorbing turmeric along with oils and fats in recipes. However, it can be difficult to achieve therapeutic doses from powders alone. Supplements provide much higher curcumin content in a small dose. Doing both - using turmeric powder in cooking and taking a curcumin supplement - is an effective way to incorporate turmeric into your routine.

How much turmeric powder should I take daily?

1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon (2.5-5 grams) of turmeric powder daily is recommended for general health benefits. Consuming turmeric powder in golden milk, teas, soups, or other recipes with healthy fats improves absorption. Higher doses may be required for specific therapeutic purposes.

How much turmeric extract should I take?

Look for a turmeric extract supplement providing 500-2000 mg of curcumin per day, which is the dose used in most clinical studies. Make sure to take the extract with food or oils to enhance absorption.

Are there any side effects or safety concerns?

When consumed in culinary doses, turmeric powder is very safe. Turmeric extracts provide very high doses of curcumin so may be more likely to cause side effects like upset stomach or diarrhea in sensitive individuals. Turmeric is safe for most people but talk to your doctor before taking supplements if you have any medical conditions or take medications.

Should I take turmeric powder or curcumin supplements?

Both turmeric powder and curcumin extract have unique advantages. Powder may have better absorption paired with fats and oils while extract provides very high curcumin content. Combining both powder in cooking and curcumin supplements provides complementary benefits.

What's the best way to take turmeric powder?

Some great ways to consume turmeric powder are in golden milk (with coconut or almond milk), mixed into soups, stews, curries, smoothies, or tea. Always combine with black pepper or healthy fats from oils, avocado, nuts or milk to increase absorption.

What should I look for in a good turmeric extract?

Look for a turmeric extract standardized to at least 95% curcuminoids or curcumin. It should also contain black pepper or some other absorption enhancer. Quality turmeric extracts will provide 500-2000 mg curcumin per serving.


Both turmeric powder and turmeric extract have unique advantages and can be beneficial for health. Powder provides whole turmeric and is easy to add to recipes, while extract delivers very high concentrations of curcumin. Absorption enhancers like black pepper and fats improve the bioavailability of both products.

Consider using turmeric powder in cooking to take advantage of absorption boosters in foods. Combine this with a quality curcumin supplement to reach clinical doses linked to health benefits in studies. Using both turmeric powder and extract together can help maximize the effects.

Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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