What is Bioperine®?
There are many ways that we can stay healthy and make sure our bodies are getting enough nutrients to carry out day-to-day life full of work, school, errands, exercise, and self-care. We can choose to eat nutrient-dense foods like dark, leafy green vegetables and nuts, and consume dietary supplements to ensure we don’t lack essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Luckily, despite what food we might eat, there are methods to improve the absorption of nutrients in our bodies.
Pepper is a common spice derived from the pepper fruit and used all over the world to season food. Surprisingly, it also can make certain nutrients more absorbable in our bodies! Bioperine is a standardized extract of black pepper that contains 95% piperine (an alkaloid that gives pepper its distinct taste).1 Bioperine works through various mechanisms to help increase absorption of vitamins and nutrients like beta carotene, curcumin, vitamin C, CoQ10, and other fat and water-soluble vitamins and herbal extracts.2
How does Bioperine increase absorption of vitamins and nutrients?
Bioperine enhances the bioavailability of many substances by inhibiting P-glycoproteins, stopping the action of enzymes and transporters that digest drugs and nutrients, activating amino acid transporters, and decreasing glucuronic acid.2
P-glycoproteins are found within the membranes of our intestines, kidneys, and adrenal glands. Their main function is to transport drugs, vitamins, and nutrients from inside to outside of cells. The first proposed mechanism of Bioperine activity is that piperine acts on these plasma membrane proteins and stops efflux so that substances are kept inside the cell for better intestinal absorption.2
Bioperine is also thought to improve absorption by stimulating thermogenesis, which is how energy and heat are created in the human body. The second proposed mechanism is that piperine stimulates catecholamines, which are thermogenic hormones, therefore increasing metabolic processes through second messengers and inflating the demand for nutrients.2 Catecholamines are localized in the intestines and as they are stimulated, they increase absorption of nutrients and activate amino acid transporters through thermogenesis. More heat and energy require more nutrients to be consumed, and thermogenesis helps us utilize all the vitamins and minerals that we ingest daily while playing a crucial role in weight management.
The third proposed mechanism involves glucuronidation, which is the process by which glucuronic acid is added to a substrate.2 As one of the many methods our body has to excrete things, glucuronidation helps remove drugs, substances, and other chemicals by making them water-soluble. Water-soluble compounds are those that can be dissolved in water, and they are easily transported out of the body via urine or bile. As things travel through our bodies (which are more than 50% water), materials that can’t dissolve in water tend to stay longer and be released later than those that are.3 Bioperine is suggested to decrease glucuronidation by inhibiting particular enzymes, leading to fewer water-soluble substances and more absorption.4
How is Bioperine different from black pepper?
Unfortunately, increasing absorption of vitamins and nutrients is not as easy as grinding extra black pepper on your foods since Bioperine and black pepper are different. Bioperine is a purified black pepper extract containing 95% piperine, so it increases absorption much quicker. Raw black pepper, on the other hand, has a much smaller percentage of piperine than Bioperine extracts (only about 5-9%), so it takes much longer for its bioavailability properties to be released.5
Is Bioperine safe?
Bioperine has been studied in both animals and humans in the United States and other countries around the world and is generally recognized as safe (GRAS).2 In fact, it’s the only piperine product that is patented to increase the bioavailability of vitamins and nutrients. Clinical studies show that it’s safe and efficient for nutritional use, and it can be added to all sorts of food while still being considered safe: your favorite snack, breakfast cereal, candy, soup, common seasoning, or non-alcoholic beverage.2 Even when Bioperine was introduced into the body at 250 times the standard daily intake level, it showed no significant negative effects on growth, organ weight, or blood components.1
Please be aware that piperine can interact with many medications, and may cause gastrointestinal siede-effects at higher than recommended doses.12
How has Bioperine been shown to interact with supplements?
Now that you know what Bioperine is and how it works, let’s talk about what it’s been shown to do with seven various minerals and supplements.
Iron is a mineral that is commonly involved in cell metabolism and growth, DNA synthesis, transport and storage of oxygen, and electron transport.1 Iron is also a part of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to muscles in need when they work, like during exercise. Athletes are at a higher risk of iron depletion during intense activity because their muscles work for longer periods and require more oxygen, and iron deficiencies can negatively affect muscle strength, capacity, and recovery. If you’re not an elite athlete, you could still be at risk for low iron levels due to blood loss, excess sweating and urination, malnutrition, or menstruation.1 A 2016 study showed that when 30 individuals took their daily iron supplement for 56 days with Bioperine, they had higher hemoglobin levels and iron-binding capacity, and less fatigue without changing their diet.1 In another study, Bioperine was given to rabbits with their iron supplements and their blood was collected at different time points. The results showed that iron concentration was higher after eight hours in rabbits who took Bioperine with their iron than rabbits not given Bioperine.2
Beta-carotene is a provitamin that is found in plants, and gives carrots their bright orange color. As a provitamin, beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A which is crucial for the health of our eyes, immune system, heart, and other organs.6 In a 1999 double-blind study, patients were either given beta-carotene with either 5 mg of piperine or placebo for 14 days and their blood was drawn periodically. After two weeks, there was a significant increase of 60% area under the curve in people who were given piperine rather than placebo, and beta-carotene levels had almost doubled with piperine.7
CoQ10 is a coenzyme that is suggested to help prevent heart failure, migraines, and other conditions.8 When healthy male volunteers were given piperine for 21 days in addition to their CoQ10 supplement, there was a significant increase of 30% more area under the plasma curve than those given placebo for the same amount of time. The serum levels for CoQ10 plus Bioperine were 1.12 µg/mL compared with the 0.85 µg/mL increase in those given CoQ10 plus placebo, which illustrates a nonspecific increase in plasma CoQ10 levels.9
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric and is proposed to have many anti-inflammatory benefits, although it has poor bioavailability. When Bioperine was given with curcumin to rats, there was a 154% increase in curcumin bioavailability a couple of hours after administration.2 More notably, the study with humans showed a 2,000% increase in curcumin bioavailability when it was administered with Bioperine after the same amount of time.2
Resveratrol is another antioxidant that has been studied for it’s role in mitochondrial capacity. When resveratrol and Bioperine were given to active young adults for four weeks, their mitochondrial capacity increased 30% more than those given placebo.2 This suggests that Bioperine could help increase the bioavailability of resveratrol and improve athletic performance with more research.
Selenium is an element that is routinely found in water and soil outdoors as well as in foods, and it is proposed to have antioxidant properties and help regulate metabolism.10 A double-blind study found that after two weeks, serum levels of selenium were 30% higher in those given selenium and Bioperine than those just given selenium and that both values were within the normal range.2
Finally, vitamin B6 is a water-soluble substance that has many functions related to protein metabolism, gluconeogenesis, and our immune system.11 Since it’s water-soluble, it is quickly absorbed in the body and its bioavailability becomes limited as it’s excreted rapidly. When serum levels were compared over four hours, the study showed that vitamin B6 levels were 2.5X higher in those given vitamin B6 plus Bioperine than those in the control group. After four hours, the serum levels for vitamin B6 plus Bioperine were still 1.4X higher than those in the control group, suggesting that Bioperine might increase vitamin B6’s bioavailability.2
What are safe Bioperine dosages?
Although Bioperine is generally recognized as safe after in-depth review, it’s important to take the appropriate dosage. The recommended dose of 5 ~ 10 mg per day contained in one serving of dietary supplements can help you reap the benefits of Bioperine with no significant side effects.2, 5
Bioeperine® is the registered trademark by Sabinsa Corporation.