Is Adulteration of Curcumin Supplements a Real Concern?
What Does This Mean for the Consumer?

The curcumin market is a multimillion-dollar industry that doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic. This growth came with an influx of adulterated curcumin on the market. A study analyzed fourteen turmeric supplements claiming to contain “all-natural sourced” ingredients. Only four out of the 14 samples analyzed supported label claims![1] Is your curcumin supplement among the >70% that is falsely represented by its label? Vitazan Professional’s supplements currently contain carbon‑14 and HPLC–tested curcumin (Curcumin with Piperine, Can‑Arrest, A‑Press™, Milk Thistle Formulation).

The 2018 Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Botanical Adulterants Bulletin reported that “[d]ue to turmeric’s high demand in international trade, turmeric powder and extracts have been subject to deliberate, economically motivated adulteration.”[2] Adulterants include synthetic dyes, such as metanil yellow and lead chromate, foreign starches, talc, C. zedoaria (wild species), or petrochemical-derived synthetic curcumin. The above colorants may pose a safety risk, as these ingredients are not accepted food-colouring agents according to international regulatory authorities. The adulteration with fillers, other Curcuma species, and synthetic curcumin dilutes supplement quality and efficacy.

Adulterant/AdditiveWhy It Is UsedHow It Impacts Health
Metanil yellowSynthetic dyeConnected to a variety of health issues, including liver damage and an increased risk of cancer.
Lead chromateSynthetic colorantLung damage, cancer, DNA mutation, neurotoxin.
Sudan redDye to enhance colourConsidered to be carcinogenic, genotoxic.
Starches, chalk powder, cassavaLow-cost bulking agent/fillerReduced or no health benefits from supplement use.
C. zedoariaLower cost, wild species of turmericLess researched, different bioactive compound profile. Reduced or no health benefits from supplement use.
Synthetic curcumin (e.g., from acetyl acetone and vanillin)Lower costPetrochemical derived. Questionable purity, efficacy, safety. Reduced or no health benefits from supplement use.

Is My Curcumin Supplement 100% Natural and Unadulterated?

The combination of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and carbon‑14 dating by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) has been shown to be the best tool to confirm the authenticity of natural curcumin.[3] While HPLC is used to accurately identify and quantify chemical constituents, carbon‑14 testing is necessary to determine percentage of material derived from biomass v. petrochemical-derived synthetic sources.[4]

When natural curcumin is tested using HPLC, three curcuminoids (curcumin ~75–80%, demethoxycurcumin ~15–20%, and didemethoxycurcumin <5%) register as specific peaks. Synthetic curcumin could be produced from petrochemicals that also register those same peaks. Natural curcumin extracts contain carbon‑14 while synthetic curcumin does not contain this radioactive isotope of carbon. An analysis classified natural curcumin as having more than 85% carbon‑14 values, while synthetic samples had less than 5%.[5] As stated above, while HPLC testing is able to test for identity, potency, fillers, and contaminants, only carbon‑14 dating could identify synthetic curcumin adulteration.

Look for curcumin products that have been laboratory-tested and verify that the curcumin has passed carbon‑14 testing. Vitazan Professional’s supplements currently contain carbon‑14–tested curcumin (Curcumin with Piperine, Can‑Arrest, A‑Press™, Milk Thistle Formulation). As the adulteration of curcumin supplements continues to be an issue, we are creating a consumer-awareness campaign to facilitate the identification of authenticated, all-natural, unadulterated curcumin. As we roll out this new awareness campaign, rest assured that your current Vitazan curcumin product is C‑14 curcumin-authenticated.

Vitazan Professional’s curcumin is 100% natural and unadulterated. Vitazan Professional products that contain curcumin have all been tested with HPLC and Carbon-14 dating by AMS.

While carbon‑14 dating is specific to curcumin adulteration testing, ALL raw materials at Vitazan Professional undergo extensive testing in our ISO 17025–accredited laboratory. These include PCR cycler (for DNA GMO identification),ultra-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometer–dual detector (extremely precise for identification and quantifying), gas chromatography–flame ionization detector/mass spectrometer (to analyze volatile molecules, solvents, PCBs, pesticides), inductively coupled plasma–optical emission spectroscopy (for trace metals such as mercury, arsenic, and lead), spectrophotometers (to determine enzymatic activities or quantities), high-precision thin-layer chromatograph (to detect if products have been contaminated by mycotoxins), near-infrared spectroscopy (to identify herbal products’ total quality and freshness of the plant), NexION 2000 inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (measures sub-PPT levels of critical trace elements, e.g., separation of organic arsenic from inorganic arsenic). For more information about analytical testing of Vitazan Products: ISO 17025–accredited Laboratory — Vitazan Professional

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