The benefits of turmeric for bodybuilding include weight loss, pain relief for muscle soreness, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Turmeric is now widely being marketed as a superfood supplement in the health and wellness industry.

Supplements are big business, and marketing campaigns sometimes create more questions than answers.The nutritional supplement industry raked in about $32 billion in revenue last year, and according to the “Nutritional Business Journal,” it’s expected to exceed $60 billion by 2021. As a vegetarian bodybuilder or athlete, navigating the endless aisles of nutritional supplements can involve a minefield of questions:

  • Are supplements safe?
  • Do they live up to their promise?
  • Will they boost my performance?
  • What side effects do I need to know about?

The world of supplements used to be dominated by bodybuilders, but now ordinary men and women are popping pills and mixing powders to give their health and fitness an extra boost. Considering the uncertain state of healthcare in America and for Medicare and Medicaid, more people are taking matters of health into their own hands.

Of the thousands of nutritional supplements on the market today, only some are worth your while. Unfortunately, many are unregulated, meaning that the companies that produce them aren’t required to go through stringent safety and efficiency testing.

But not all vitamins and supplements are created equal, and we’ve uncovered a few with definite health benefits. Conveniently, they also fit into a vegan bodybuilding diet.

Turmeric (Curcumin)

Why It’s Healthy

turmeric-benefits-vegan-bodybuildingCurcumin is the most active constituent of turmeric. It is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, metabolic syndrome fix, and cancer prevention nutrient.

When taken long-term, turmeric has been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease post-operative pain and arthritis.

According to a 2013 medical study published in the “Journal of Pain Research,” 400 mg of turmeric was comparable to taking 2,000 grams of Tylenol.

The benefits also include it being proven effective for the type of pain, soreness, and muscle strains you feel after starting or ramping up a new vegetarian bodybuilding or fitness routine.

Not only is this nutrient a powerful antioxidant, it also helps the human body fight diseases, especially ones that attack and corrupt our DNA. Although more research is required to move forward, curcumin has been linked to anti-cancer benefits, both in preventing cancer and making chemotherapy more effective.

Most studies have revolved around colon, pancreatic, colorectal, and cervical cancer thus far. Since curcumin is a natural mediator of chemo-resistance and radio-resistance, it can help protect healthy cells from being destroyed during chemo and radiation therapy.

Turmeric Benefits

  • Post-surgery pain
  • Soreness and muscle strain
  • Arthritis
  • Disease prevention
  • Weight Loss

Where to Find It

If you’re a fan of Indian food, you’re already a little familiar with curcumin supplements. This is the yellow pigment that gives turmeric and curry spices their vibrant color, and it’s also found in ginger.

The recommended daily dose of turmeric is 500 mg, but it is poorly absorbed on its own. To reap the full benefits of this nutrient, you’ll need to take a supplement with black pepper extract, phytosomes with soy lecithin, or a curcumin nanoparticle product. The actual spice, turmeric, is the best natural source of this nutrient.

What to Keep in Mind

Curcumin is fat-soluble, so be sure to take the supplement with a meal so that it absorbs into the body. The most common side effect of curcumin is minor gastrointestinal discomfort. Some users have reported minor flatulence and a temporary yellowing of the stool.


Why It’s Healthy

Algae might not sound very appetizing, but a blue-green species called Spirulina holds much potential for blood lipids and triglyceride levels in the human body. It has been shown to increase oxygen levels in our bodies, thereby protecting healthy cells from free radical damage.

This is a vegan source of protein, and is known to help remove bodily wastes and toxins that stand in the way of your performance. Spirulina has more iron than spinach, more beta carotene than carrots, more calcium than whole milk, and more protein than tofu.

Spirulina Benefits

  • Protecting the brain
  • Reducing fat in the liver
  • Lipid metabolism
  • Heart health
  • It is NOT a good source of Vitamin B12*

*Contrary to the hype of supplement ads, spirulina is not considered to be a reliable source of Vitamin B12. Spirulina supplements contain predominantly pseudovitamin B12, which is biologically inactive in humans. The American Dietetic Association has declared that spirulina cannot be counted on as a reliable source of active vitamin B12.

Where to Find It

Spirulina occurs naturally in algae and seaweed. It is known to have a less than pleasant taste, so it is commonly put in capsule form for supplementation. Powder and flake forms of spirulina are commonly grown in laboratories and sold in the United States.

What to Keep in Mind

The standard recommended dose is about 1 to 3 grams daily, though some medical professionals suggest taking up to 10 grams. There no known side effects of taking spirulina, but you should consult your doctor if you suffer from a metabolic condition, an autoimmune disease, or are pregnant.

The University of Maryland Medical Center warns that spirulina can be contaminated with toxic substances and heavy metals from the water where it grows. Only buy spirulina from trusted brands to ensure purity and avoid contamination.

Rhodiola Rosea

Why It’s Healthy

Rhodiola rosea is one of the few nutrients that have been proven effective in reducing fatigue and exhaustion during periods of pronged stress. Most of the medical studies so far have involved individuals “burned out” with daily stresses, rather than professional athletes who feel physically overexerted.

However, evidence shows that this nutrient holds great promise in promoting longevity and protecting the neurological reactions to stressful situations. A study published in the “International Journal of Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that healthy, young adults who consumed rhodiola rosea an hour before exercise significantly increased their endurance capacity.

Several studies have shown that students taking rhodiola rosea also have improved focus, motor skills, reaction time, and test score performance. Scientists have hypothesized that the nutrient can help reduce depression and lengthen lifespans, but more research needs to be conducted in these areas before conclusions can be drawn.

Rhodiola Rosea Benefits

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Stress relief
  • Increased agility
  • Cravings and addiction

Where to Find It

Rhodiola rosea grows in frigid, mountainous regions of the Arctic, but you don’t have to travel that far to find it. It is most commonly found in a standardized extract that contains rosavins and salidrosides in a 3:1 ratio. Research subjects have reported feeling less fatigue after taking only 50 mg of rhodiola rosea each day, though the average dose is between 200 mg and 400 mg.

What to Keep in Mind

Researchers have not yet discovered any side effects related to taking rhodiola rosea, but it could potentially interact with pharmaceutical drugs you’re already taking. Athletes who are trying to wean themselves off minor caffeine addictions may be able to find transitional relief with this supplemental nutrient. Try taking it without food, either first thing in the morning or midday.


Turmeric benefits are many. Spirulina and rhodiola rosea are also two great examples of all-natural nutrients that your body can use to fight off sickness, heal after injury, and perform at its highest level.

Instead of stocking up on chemically-produced supplements with a list of ingredients you can’t pronounce, focus on naturally-occurring nutrients that your body simply isn’t getting enough of from your diet.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, find more energy at the gym, or simply keep your body healthy, natural supplements may be able to give you an edge.