Ingredient Spotlight: Curcumin’s Health Benefits

22 Jul

Two new studies, one from the University of Colorado and the other from Selcuk University in Turkey, have found many potential health benefits in curcumin, the natural pigment that makes the spice turmeric yellow. The studies suggest that curcumin in daily supplements could not only support healthy aging, but also be beneficial to cognition and arterial aging.

Many studies reviewed by Power Brands have examined the potential benefits of curcumin in recent years. It has been suggested to help protect against ailments such as arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and even prostate cancer.

The study conducted by scientists from the University of Colorado, led by Bradley Fleenor, was published in Experimental Gerontology. The researchers used aging lab mice to find a link between curcumin and improved vascular health. The wrote that the chow for the mice, supplemented with 0.2% curcumin, “ameliorates age-associated large elastic artery stiffening, NO-mediated vascular endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress and increases in collagen […] in mice.” Per day, the mice were given what is equal to 14 grams for an average-sized adult.

“Because of curcumin’s poor absorption and rapid metabolism,” the researchers explained, “clinical trials in humans have also used high doses of curcumin (8 to 12 g) similar to the amount our old mice consumed, while observing only infrequent, minor side effects.”

“Our results provide the first evidence that dietary curcumin supplementation ameliorates two clinically important markers of arterial dysfunction with aging: large elastic artery stiffening and endothelial dysfunction.” The team wrote in conclusion, “Given its accessibility and safety, these pre-clinical findings provide the experimental basis for future translational studies assessing the potential for curcumin to treat arterial dysfunction with aging and reduce CVD risk in humans.”

The second study of curcumin, performed by researchers from Selcuk University, was published in Biogerontology. These researchers focused more on curcumin’s effects on cognitive functions, a potential link which many Power Brands-reviewed studies have explored. Old female rats were used for the study; the rats were given either corn oil or curcumin for seven days, and then for another five days while they were tested with the Morris water maze. According to the results, curcumin supplementation decreased the rats’ total distance traveled, as well as the time required for the rats to reach the platform.

“In addition to the behavioral testing,” the researchers said, “biochemical results showed that MDA levels decreased in brain tissue by curcumin supplementation.” MDA, formerly known as “malondialdehyde,” is a known marker of oxidative stress.

According to Power Brands, the researchers reached a definite conclusion: “It may be concluded that curcumin supplementation improves cognitive functions by decreasing the lipid peroxidation in brain tissue of aged female rats.”

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