Curcumin is a yellow pigment extracted from the rhizome of turmeric. It is a phenolic pigment with a structure of diarylheptanoid. It is the most critical curcuminoid substance, accounting for about 70% of curcumin and about 3% to 6% of turmeric. In addition to curcumin, this class of compounds also includes Demethoxycurcumin (10-20%), Dedimethoxycurcumin (10%), and Hexahydrocurcumin.
The appearance of curcumin is an orange-yellow crystalline powder with a special odor and a slightly bitter taste. And curcumin is insoluble in water and ether but soluble in ethanol, acetone, glacial acetic acid, and propylene glycol. Also slightly soluble in ether with light green fluorescence. It is reddish-brown under alkaline conditions. Pale yellow under acidic conditions, yellow-red when dissolved in concentrated sulfuric acid. It can change color with metal ions, especially iron ions, to form chelates.
How to Get Curcumin?
– From the condensation of vanillin & acetylacetone.
The condensation of vanillin and acetylacetone can obtain curcumin. Dissolve vanillin with anhydrous ethyl acetate, then add tributyl borate and the complex formed by acetylacetone and diboron trioxide, then add n-butylamine dropwise, stir for 4-5h after dropping, and leave overnight. The next day, 0.4N hydrochloric acid at 60°C was added to continue going for one h, and the mixture was kept in a 50°C water bath to complete the reaction. The aqueous layer of the reaction product is separated, washed with water 3-4 times, the curcumin is filtered out, ethyl acetate 2-3 times to obtain the crude product, and recrystallized with ethanol to obtain the finished product.
– From turmeric by the enzymatic method or HPLC method.
Common Curcumin Uses
Curcumin has long been used in the food industry as a natural pigment. It is stable to reducing agents, has strong tinting strength, and is not easy to fade. However, curcumin is sensitive to light, heat, and iron ions. The main application is for the dyeing of canned food, sausage products, and soy sauce products. Also used as an acid-base indicator, pH 7.8 – 9.2, from yellow to red-brown.
Curcumin has essential economic value and extensive pharmacological effects. For example, it has hypolipidemic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherosclerosis, etc. In 2004, some experiments found that curcumin can inhibit the activity of HIV-1 integrase and was used in clinical trials of AIDS. In addition, anti-cancer is one of the main pharmacological activities of curcumin. And many animal experiments can repeatedly confirm curcumin’s anti-tumor effect. The specific anti-cancer mechanism has become a recent research hotspot.
Curcumin is a lipophilic phenolic prebiotic. The intestinal flora of the large intestine can ferment phenolic compounds, promote the proliferation of probiotics and inhibit the reproduction of pathogenic bacteria.
Supplements in beverage and liquid forms are a steadily growing trend these days, but adding curcumin to these forms requires multiple considerations.
Turmeric, as well known as Curcuma longa, the golden spice used in Southeast Asian cooking, has become a shining star in botanical supplements with its bioactive ingredient curcumin, well-documented for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits.
New Trend Recently
Recently, there has been a proliferation of products offering turmeric or curcumin in liquid form, from ready-to-drink, RTD shortly beverages and beverages to ready-to-mix, RTM for short, products in stick packs and sachets and powders, catering to consumer choice and convenience. But creating these products poses some challenges for product developers and problems for brands as they market these products to receptive but somewhat uninformed consumers.
Market interest is easy to explain. According to Grand View Research, the global market for curcumin products is growing steadily, with the segment reaching $58 million by 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound growth rate of 16.1% through 2028. According to the data from American Botanical Council and Nutrition Business Journal, sales of turmeric supplements in the United States are the fourth largest market, at nearly $97 million. Combining that with the growing appeal of functional beverages for specific health benefits, you have a solid market opportunity.
“With the rapid rise of curcumin, the global functional beverage market is expected to reach over $17.3 billion by 2025. This powerful antioxidant and popular application are bound to intersect and synergize to the next level,” said Sara Zoet, Senior Specialist in Global Communications at OmniActive Health Technologies.
Consumer demand for functional, healthy foods and products suitable for mobile lifestyles is helping to drive this trend. Additionally, curcumin and turmeric have a growing list of documented and desirable health benefits, from supporting heart health to maintaining cognitive function. Indeed, the ever-increasing awareness of the benefits of curcumin for exercise recovery and athletic performance has been driving.
Dr. Kalyanam Nagabhushanam, president of research and development at Sabinsa Corporation, said that tablets and capsules still dominate the United States. Still, supplements in beverage and liquid form are steadily increasing, especially for younger generations. Lifestyle and physical activity are the main factors encouraging this transition.
Erin Costello, communications and events associate at beverage product development company Imbibe, points out that younger consumers are not the only target. “Arthritis and joint replacements, influenza and pneumonia, and COVID-19 are among the top 10 health challenges facing baby boomers, which align directly with the benefits of curcumin,” she said, citing information released by Scripps.
Lifestyle choices and habits may also be part of this. “The pandemic has forced consumers to reexamine their habits, and most realize they’re not drinking enough water,” noted Kristen Marshall, a digital marketing expert at Verdure Sciences. “You can take the capsules when you drink water. To achieve two personal health goals, you can also mix flavored supplements with more than 20 ounces of water.”
General pill fatigue may be another factor. “People are tired of capsules and tablets, especially curcumin, because you may need to take three or four tablets to get an effective dose. It’s better to take a smooth liquid form every day,” said Dr. David Liu, CTO of Chenland Nutritionals pointed out.
Companies like Bolthouse Farms, with some early entrants in the RTD market, also recognize that the rise of these products is not just about nutritional and health benefits but enjoyment. “As part of our research, we know that consumers understand the nutritional benefits of turmeric, primarily on an immune and anti-inflammatory basis,” said Amy Shoemaker, director of marketing at Bolthouse Farms. “But for consumers who want to incorporate it into their diet, the product has to be both functional and pleasing.”
While this may be true, creating consumer-friendly curcumin products for health benefits is much more complicated than just adding a pinch of curcumin to beverages. And many consumers may not understand the difference.
First, it has to say that turmeric and curcumin are not interchangeable.
Turmeric root contains about 2% to 3% curcumin, a bioactive compound with health benefits. Most studies evaluating the health properties of turmeric have used turmeric extract, which contains a higher dose of curcumin, about 95%. It is not to say that drinking beverages with added turmeric may be harmful to your overall health, just as eating a diet rich in turmeric is good for you. But it’s a long-term proposition. However, the association between these two ingredients may have confused the market.
Notably, the beverage does have potential as a delivery form of curcumin. According to James S. Tonkin, beverage consultant at Health Brand Builders, beverages are always a great way to get bioactive into the body because it skips capsules and pills that need to dissolve in the stomach. However, he adds, it depends on the dose and whether the drink or liquid contains enough of the compound to have a natural effect. “I would say that if a company has an effective dose in a drink, based on peer-reviewed research, they will be able to speak out about it,” he said.
Liu noted that dosing could also be an issue with products such as injections. “If 1,000 mg is the standard dose, it’s almost impossible to make it into a two-ounce dose.”
Dosing is just one of several formulation and sensory challenges. Nagabhushanam said that most beverages and RTM powders are great for sports and leisure activities, but “most curcumin products do not easily mix into liquids and leave noticeable solids in beverage form.” He said that curcumin. It is also unstable in alkaline pH, and its bright color imparts a characteristic hue to beverages, even in small amounts. “So, if you want to ensure that each dose contains a certain amount of curcumin, it is important to have a reliable way to estimate the curcumin content in the beverage.”
“Manufacturing itself can be a hurdle to overcome, as ingredient suppliers need to share stability, solubility, and efficacy in a variety of situations,” adds Marshall.
Simply put, curcumin is difficult to use because it has complex pharmacokinetic issues, it’s not just powder versus liquid.
These words are said by Dr. Michal Heger, who comes from the Chief Formulation Officer & Board Member of Nurishme and also is a nanotechnology specialist. Dr. Michal Heger explained that a standard solution is to coat fat-soluble molecules with emulsifiers to make them more compatible with water, but that doesn’t mean the molecules themselves become hydrophilic, which means mixable in water. The molecule retains its lipophilic characteristics. This kind of feature can make the molecule have an ability to mixable in fat or oil. And with that comes the absorption and biotransformation problems typically associated with lipophilic compounds.” Heger added that the crux of the matter is about bioavailability, which can be modulated by either formulation type, powder, or water. Therefore, there is no advantage in having a liquid curcumin product itself unless the formulation is associated with increased bioavailability. In other words, it means better absorption, less metabolism of xenobiotics, and less clearance from the blood. Compared to curcumin alone, there are two things that can increase curcumin bioavailability. One is curcumin formulations containing a P-glycoprotein inhibitor, such as piperine or curcumin. And the other is the lipid composition of curcumin preparations.