Can eating too much turmeric cause iron deficiency?
Turmeric is a popular Indian spice that gives curries their bright yellow color and warm flavor. In addition to being a common ingredient in Asian food, this spice has been used for hundreds of years to treat a wide range of health problems. Due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, this spice became more popular during the COVID-19 wave to lower the risk of infection and strengthen the immune system. From pickled turmeric root to turmeric shots, the demand for this yellow spice rose dramatically in every home. But most people know that eating too much of even healthy foods, like turmeric, can be dangerous and cause a number of negative effects.
Iron absorption and turmeric
This yellow spice does reduce inflammation and boost the immune system, but too much of it can make it harder for the body to absorb iron. Iron is a mineral that our bodies need every day to make hemoglobin, a red protein that carries oxygen in the blood.
Turmeric is a food that, depending on how much is eaten, can reduce iron absorption by 20% to 90%. This happens because turmeric’s stoichiometric properties help it bind all the absorbable iron and cause iron deficiency. Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, can combine with ferric iron to make a complex called ferric-curcumin. This compound can also stop the body from making peptides called hepcidin, which are in charge of keeping iron levels in check. All of these things contribute to iron deficiency.
The right amount of turmeric
If you use it in moderation, turmeric can help your health in many ways. You can use it as usual in your curries and vegetables. The problem starts when people go above and beyond by taking curcumin supplements or turmeric shots.
If you add 2,000–2,500 mg of turmeric to your food, you only get 60–100 mg of curcumin per day. This amount of curcumin is below the safe limit and won’t hurt anyone. It is dangerous to take exactly this much turmeric every day. All of the potential benefits of the supplement come from the curcumin it contains. Talk to your doctor before taking curcumin supplements.
Other negative effects of taking too much curcumin
Too much curcumin in one day can lead to an iron deficiency, digestive problems, headaches, and rashes. Turmeric can also make your liver bigger, give you stomach ulcers, cause inflammation, and make you more likely to get liver or intestinal cancer.
Who shouldn’t take supplements containing curcumin?
Curcumin is the most important active ingredient in turmeric, and it is responsible for most of turmeric’s health benefits. But supplements containing curcumin aren’t good for everyone. People who already have anemia, bleeding problems, kidney stones, or diabetes should be especially careful when adding more of this yellow spice to their diet.