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NOW Tests Curcumin/Turmeric Extract Sold by Amazon

Problems identified with potency, heavy metals, labeling accuracy, and synthetic curcumin adulteration

Continuing the work to disclose alarming quality failings and misleading, inaccurate labels among unfamiliar brands of products purchased on Amazon, NOW has turned their attention to the curcumin/turmeric category, finding similarly poor results.

Having previously tested multiple categories of suspect supplements purchased on Amazon that revealed low potency and poor quality control, NOW recently tested turmeric extracts for potency, heavy metals, labeling accuracy, and potential addition of synthetic curcumin.

NOW assayed 23 unknown brand product samples plus two NOW products, all purchased from Amazon in June 2021. Initially it appeared that the unknown brands tested much better than expected. Only one product clearly failed potency testing and four others tested very low, but without any specific label claim. This initial look was not the end of the story.

Virtually all of the products were labeled such as “Turmeric Curcumin 1650mg” on the front panel, yet the side panel would list 1,500mg as Turmeric Root, 300mg Ginger Root, 150mg Turmeric Extract and 15mg BioPerine PER THREE CAPSULES. That equals to 655mg per capsule and less than 10% of the product is Turmeric 95% Standardized Extract. “This can be perceived as deceptive since many customers do not know the difference between Turmeric, Turmeric Extract, Curcumin Extract, and Standardized 95% Extract,” said Dan Richard, NOW’s Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing.

NOW also tested heavy metals (Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury) to compare each product. The average total heavy metals, by product, were 525% higher than NOW’s two sample average, and only one product out of 23 had less heavy metals than NOW. Two products, B’Leaf Nature and Eagle brands, were more than 20 times higher than NOW and above California’s Prop 65 limits for Lead. Two others, Farm Haven and BioEmblem brands, were both above 100ppb in Cadmium, a particularly toxic heavy metal.

Synthetic adulteration was also an issue in these tests. Low quality curcumin (turmeric extract) is known to be spiked with synthetic curcumin in order to meet potency testing. The American Botanical Council highlighted this problem, and quality brands have made sure to avoid it. Synthetic curcumin is derived from petrochemicals, rather than natural Turmeric, at a much lower cost. NOW sent all samples to the University of Georgia’s Center for Applied Isotope Studies for independent radiocarbon testing. This lab found that four out of 23 unfamiliar brands were spiked, with “fossil fuel derived organic carbon.” These four brands are: Vitpro, Me First Living, Eagle, and Primal Harvest.

NOW also suspected that some of these products may be mislabeled as Vegetarian Capsules. Of the 23 samples below, two tested to be in animal gelatin capsules and were not in Vegetarian Capsules. These are Bioganix and Nutriflair brands with below lot numbers.

All of these products were tested for potency both at the company’s highly respected internal labs and at Eurofins Labs. The assay method is RP-HPLC with UV detection and potencies are determined based on total curcuminoids per capsule.

In total, 12 out of 23 outside products tested failed either for potency, containing synthetic curcuminoids, heavy metals or used gelatin caps instead of the claimed veggie caps. Somewhat surprisingly, 11 out of 23 did pass all tests, though with slightly misleading labeling.

NOW is the only brand to list both total and net weights of 95% extract on labels. NOW’s # 4638 is labeled showing 665mg Turmeric Extract providing 630mg or 95% Curcumin as the primary active potency.

“While we appreciate Amazon’s initial efforts to address these ongoing, egregious problems with sellers on their platform, there is clearly still a long way to go,” Richard said. “The kind of results we found are not what consumers expect when they purchase dietary supplements from sellers they trust.”

⚠︎ = potency claims not met or poor results

Curcumin/Turmeric 95% Tests by NOW July 2021 Size Lot # Expir. Date Label Claim
95% Extract
NOW Results
# 1 Test
Av %
NOW Turmeric Curcumin #4638 60 Vcaps 3187526 12/2024 665 mg Pass Pass 107%
NOW Turmeric Curcumin Softgels #4936 60 Gels 3206552 4/2024 475 mg Pass Pass 102%
Ace Nutrition NJ Turmeric Curcumin 90 Vcaps 2020-07476 06/2023 200 mg Pass Pass 102%
BioEmblem/ANZA NY Turmeric Curcumi 90 Vcaps 1B2201 02/2022 50 mg Pass Pass 145%
⚠︎ Bioganix FL Turmeric Curcumin 120 Vcaps 62053 01/2023 No claim 13 mg 10 mg
Bio Schwartz NY Turmeric Curcumin 90 Vcaps T20C163 12/2022 50 mg Pass Pass 141%
B’Leaf FL Turmeric Curcumin 180 Vcaps 20L0251 10/2022 50 mg Pass Pass 140%
⚠︎ Doctor Recommended Turmeric Curcumin 180 Vcaps TC5151 None 208 mg Fail Fail 3%
Eagle Supplements PA Turmeric Complex 60 Vcaps 2001007 01/2022 50 mg Pass Pass 98%
Farm Haven CA Turmeric Curcumin 120 Vcaps 12988 07/2022 50 mg Pass Pass 140%
⚠︎ FineVine NJ Turmeric Curcumin 180 Vcaps None 01/2024 Not clear 21 mg 21 mg
Me First Living AZ Turmeric Curcumin 60 Vcaps 007068 11/2022 500 mg OK OK 96%
MedChoice CA Turmeric Bioperine Garlic 120 Vcaps 21C042 04/2023 50 mg Pass Pass 117%
Nature’s Base TX Turmeric & Ginger 60 Vcaps 20L044 12/2022 50 mg Pass Pass 99%
Natures Nutrition UT Turmeric Curcumin 120 Vcaps 11747-120 09/2023 50 mg Pass Pass 150%
Natures Wellness FL Turmeric Curcumin 120 Vcaps A1B006 02/2024 50 mg Pass Pass 139%
Naturewise CA Turmeric Curcumin 180 Vcaps T20H075 02/2024 167 mg Pass Pass 105%
New Age Turmeric Curcumin (no address) 90 Vcaps 11904 02/2024 50 mg Pass Pass 162%
⚠︎ NutriFlair WA Turmeric 180 Vcaps TC59034 02/2024 Not clear 8 mg 8 mg
Primal Harvest NY Turmeric Complex 60 Vcaps 012221107 03/2023 200 mg Pass Pass 119%
⚠︎ Pure by Nature GA Turmeric Curcumin 180 Vcaps T58657 12/2023 Not clear 18 mg 16 mg
Vimerson Health IL Turmeric Curcumin 60 Vcaps 2021-1119 03/2023 50 mg Pass Pass 142%
Vita Breeze FL Turmeric Curcumin 180 Vcaps TC59145 03/2024 Not clear 91 mg 97 mg
VitPro NJ Turmeric Curcumin 90 Vcaps STTCBLK321 03/2023 150 mg Pass Pass 113%
Viva Naturals NY Organic Turmeric 90 Tabs 0540B9 09/2021 50 mg Pass Pass 137%

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