Turmeric is one of the most beloved spices in the supplement world. This herb is a powerhouse that is packed with many health benefits. Most famous for fighting inflammation, it can also be beneficial for diabetes, brain health, digestion, and even heart health. It’s no wonder that turmeric supplements are flying off the shelves! But as its benefits become more and more well known, its side effects are also coming to light. Some researchers are concerned that anemia and turmeric are connected, and not in a good way. In this post we will aim to answer the question of “does turmeric cause anemia?” and what it might mean for you.
How Does Turmeric Impact Anemia?
To explain how turmeric and anemia are related, we first need to understand anemia. This condition is caused by an insufficiency of healthy red blood cells. Anemia can be caused by a deficiency of certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, Folate, or, most notably, iron. The way in which turmeric is purported to affect anemia is by binding to ferric iron in the gut, and has been observed to cause iron deficiency in mice (1).
Turmeric Anemia: A Case Study
Researchers Thomas Smith and Bimal Ashar observed that a man who took 538 mg of turmeric extract 6 times a day experienced decreased hemoglobin and iron levels (2). Two weeks after stopping to take turmeric and continuing to take his regular iron supplement, the patients hemoglobin levels returned to normal. This correlation suggests that turmeric supplementation may have been a factor that caused the patient’s low hemoglobin levels.
It’s important to note that this study has a small sample size of only 1 man, due to the nature of case studies. Furthermore, the patient was taking over 3,000 mg of turmeric extract a day, though most studies are performed on up to 2,000 mg of turmeric or turmeric extract. Lastly, it should be noted that the patient already had a history with anemia.
What Does This Mean For You?
This study provides interesting insights into the relationship between turmeric and iron-deficiency anemia. However, further research is still required to determine if anemia is a potential side effect of high turmeric dosage. At the moment, taking turmeric for health benefits has not been proven to cause anemia. Nevertheless, the study can be taken as a cautionary sign that iron and hemoglobin levels should be monitored when taking turmeric, especially if the patient is experiencing fatigue.
There isn’t enough research available to claim that turmeric supplements, especially in dosages up to 1,500 mg, cause anemia. The connection between turmeric and anemia is a subject for further research. In the meantime, the most important takeaway is that if you start to or you are already taking supplements, that you do so with the guidance of a qualified health professional.