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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Is curcumin mimicking vitamin D?

There are relatively many studies on the health benefits of curcumin, a chemical compound in the spice turmeric, popularly found in curry spice blends and curry dishes. Some promising clinical trials have shown curcurmin is effective in various pro-inflammatory diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel disease, vitiligo, psoriasis, acute coronary syndrome, atherosclerosis, diabetes, diabetic nephropathy, lupus, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Gupta SC, Patchva S, Aggarwal BB. Therapeutic roles of curcumin: lessons learned from clinical trials. AAPS J. 2013 Jan;15(1):195-218.

If those diseases sound familiar, it is because vitamin D appears to have beneficial effects in the same set of diseases. Like vitamin D, it also appears that curcumin is anti-inflammatory. Below is an open access paper about curcumin’s anti-inflammatory actions.

Aggarwal BB, Harikumar KB.  Potential therapeutic effects of curcumin, the anti-inflammatory agent, against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009 Jan;41(1):40-59.

Everyone should know by now that vitamin D is anti-inflammatory. So is there a connection here? How does curcumin work?

A few years ago, researchers found that curcumin mimics the vitamin D molecule and functions as a vitamin D agonist. That is, it is a direct stimulator of the vitamin D receptor (VDR). In fact, curcumin may stimulate the VDR as well as activated vitamin D does.

Bartik L, et al. Curcumin: a novel nutritionally derived ligand of the vitamin D receptor with implications for colon cancer chemoprevention. J Nutr Biochem. 2010 Dec;21(12):1153-61.

The benefits found in curcumin may work by curcumin masquerading as vitamin D. There is simply not enough research into this area to know for sure at this time, but we should keep an eye out for research in this area.

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.
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9 Responses to Is curcumin mimicking vitamin D?

  1. D-fiant says:

    Maybe it was a devine thought or was it co-incidence, but as I was loading the VDC site I was thinking…… we all know here that Vit D helps in nearly everything the body does, so we don’t need anymore convincing (we love hearing about the research) but what we need now is – how do we supercharge the healing effect of Vit D.

    By that I mean, apart from co-factors, what can we do / add, with the building of our Vit D levels to get greater health and fight diseases. I did hear that our micro gut floria increases our Vit D levels, so that maybe one.

    Now; what about curcumin, is this another thing or in the future are we going to find that curcumin conflicts with Vit D?

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  2. Rita and Misty says:


    (of course this is only my opinion, however):

    If I had cancer, I would start a protocol of high d3, and goodly amounts of iodine and selenium.

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  3. D-fiant says:

    Hi Rita,
    I got my Vit D level back last week, 198 (79.2) my highest level, going for about 250 (100). I had to prepare my doctor for such a high result, I did this by giving her a vit D report from VDC.

    I am still away from home, out boating and I got the results emailed to me. The doctor seemed to take the result in her stride as the secretary said the doctor said there was no action required. My son’s doctor, in the same practice (different doctor) had a fit when his hit about 170 (68)

    You know my story on pc.
    I have looked at selenium, but could not find a test that supported it conclusivly. Some tests saying high levels were bad for you.
    I have not looked at iodine, but I will now.

    Thanks for your continued support.

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  4. Rita and Misty says:


    If you are doing any fishing, may you have success…


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  5. Brant Cebulla says:


    You raise a good question about curcumin-vitamin D and if there are any contraindications. Unfortunately based on current research, we don’t know, so it’s hard to declare much of anything at the moment. I’m also not sure how much researchers are looking into this.


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  6. Rita and Misty says:

    Hi di-fiant and Brant,

    Dr. Cannell’s closing line in his above article is excellent: “The benefits found in curcumin may work by curcumin masquerading as vitamin D.” That would be amazing..the power of such a masquerade leaves one’s head spinning, yes?… (BTW–Happy B-Day, Dr. Cannell) :)

    Brant, I did an extremely quick internet search on curcumin, and it appears to have very low toxicity, with some tremendous health benefits (plus it’s just a tasty spice-imo):

    Here are some fun, easy reads on the spice:


    For those of you with access to Pubmed Central, there many good scientific articles on curcumin.

    This below pubmed j.a. is excellent:

    Discovery of Curcumin, a Component of the Golden Spice, and Its Miraculous Biological Activities: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3288651/

    Be well!

    [email protected]

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  7. Here is another interesting article about curcumin by microbiologist Dr. Gombart (from Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute) and colleagues; “Curcumin induces human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide gene expression through a vitamin D receptor-independent pathway.”



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  8. Dan says:

    Note that Curcumin can deplete iron, same for Quercetin. I am recovering from low iron and had to stop these.

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  9. allometric24 says:

    I shall have to eat curried onions for lunch. I have been trying to lower my iron for a long time but they won’t take my blood round here!

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