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People Who Should Never Eat Turmeric, According to an Expert

A nutritionist shares who should avoid taking supplements of the spice.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Turmeric is one of the most healing spices you can get your hands on and it's what gives curry its vibrant yellow, borderline orange pigment. Research has routinely demonstrated the centuries-old spice exhibits both anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties, which in turn, may help to reduce the risk of various chronic diseases and conditions.

However, according to Dr. Vikki Petersen, certified nutritionist, chiropractor, and functional medicine doctor, there are a few groups of people who should avoid turmeric—especially in the form of a capsule. (Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now).

"Unfortunately, turmeric can be adulterated with toxic ingredients and even heavy metals such as lead," she says. "Silicon dioxide can be added to prevent caking in lower quality supplements, and additions of flour as fillers can contain gluten, therefore wreaking havoc on those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance."

Petersen clarifies that it's generally safe to take between 500 milligrams and 1,000 milligrams of turmeric per day for its health benefits. However, adverse symptoms may arise when people exceed 2,000 milligrams a day or consume low-quality supplements. In fact, taking supplements of just turmeric alone may be a waste of money.

Curcumin, which is the main active ingredient in turmeric, is largely responsible for turmeric's anti-inflammatory powers. However, the concentration of curcumin in turmeric isn't very high, which means that you may not receive all of the inflammation-fighting effects through turmeric supplements. In fact, you may benefit from taking a curcumin supplement.

Keep in mind, though, that curcumin doesn't have a high bioavailability, meaning that the body doesn't easily absorb the compound on its own. A helpful tip? If you're going to take a supplement, make sure to take it with a meal that you're seasoning with black pepper. Piperine, a substance found in black pepper, can increase your body's absorption of curcumin by as much as 2,000%, per one 2010 study.

Of course, taking too much curcumin can also lead to gastrointestinal discomfort and nausea, so make sure you're not overdoing it on the supplements.

"There is some concern about those predisposed to kidney stones could suffer from some aggravation due to oxalates present in turmeric, but the percentage of oxalates is only 2% and a normal dose of turmeric should be safe for most," Petersen adds.

In short, many people will likely benefit from eating turmeric, however, taking it in capsule form (especially if it's a low-grade supplement) may pose a threat to those who have celiac disease or are gluten-intolerant.

A good rule of thumb? Be sure to consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist before taking any supplements to be sure you're taking one that will help you reap the most health benefits. And for more, be sure to read 7 Powerful Supplements That Will Boost Your Immune System.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of <Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more