Garlic contains incredibly potent compounds that fight inflammation, reduce your risk for chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer, and help control your blood sugar.
A garlic supplement is a fantastic way to amplify the health benefits of garlic, because a garlic supplement contains these active ingredients in a concentrated form. It’s also a much more reliable way of delivering a consistent dose of garlic than eating raw garlic.
If you want to harness the oxidation-fighting power of garlic, you want a supplement that’s pure and effective, and one that follows the protocols used in clinical research as closely as possible.
We’ve dug into the science and come up with the ten best garlic supplements on the market.
1. Zhou Nutrition Garlic
While other garlic supplements focus on delivering an equivalent dose of raw garlic material, Zhou Nutrition sets its priorities higher: it aims to deliver at least 5000 micrograms of allicin, the compound in garlic that many nutritionists believe is responsible for its health benefits.
This makes this garlic supplement especially attractive if you are trying to design your supplementation routine to mirror the scientific research into the uses of allicin specifically, or if you want to be sure you’re getting a high enough dose of the active contents.
It isn’t as simplistic in its ingredient design as some other competitors, but the focus on active ingredients more than makes up for it.
2. Pure Encapsulations GarliActive
Pure Encapsulations GarliActive is an extremely high potency garlic supplement that focuses on providing at least 9000 micrograms of allicin–one of the active compounds in garlic extract–per capsule, which is fantastic compared to many other garlic supplements on the market.
However, it also includes a lot of extra stabilizers and binders, making it a less attractive option for people who prioritize clean supplement design.
3. Puritan’s Pride Odorless Garlic
Puritan’s Pride keeps things simple with their garlic supplement. Each capsule is potent, delivering 1000 mg of garlic extract dissolved in soybean oil and encapsulated in a gelatin casing.
Aside from that, there are zero additional ingredients, making this an excellent choice if you want high potency and high purity from your garlic supplement. With 250 capsules per bottle, this supplement will last you a long time, too.
4. BRI Nutrition Garlic Extra Strength
BRI Nutrition makes a garlic supplement that is both potent and popular. Each capsule has 500 mg of garlic, equivalent to half a gram of raw garlic bulb.
In addition, BRI adds in 100 mg of parsley extract and a small amount of chlorophyll. Both of these add additional antioxidant power; chlorophyll is a strong antioxidant, and parsley contains many of the same active ingredients as garlic.
5. Oregon’s Wild Harvest Garlic
The main claim to fame for Oregon’s Wild Harvest is its certified organic garlic that serves as the source of the extract.
The dosage is pretty middle of the road, at just over 500 mg of garlic extract per capsule, but with no ingredients aside from garlic and the vegetable cellulose casing, it’s sure to be a favorite if organic ingredients and purity are a priority for you.
6. Sundown Naturals Odorless Garlic
Sundown Naturals provides a solid, simple garlic supplement. With 1000 mg of garlic extract per capsule, it’s got a respectable potency.
Its gelatin capsule means it’s not vegan-friendly, but aside from that, it’s hard to find much fault in this garlic supplement.
7. Aged Black Garlic
Aged Black Garlic uses a special aging process to alter the active ingredients in the garlic powder to make them more potent and bioavailable.
The company claims that the aging process converts some of the garlic compounds into s-allyl-cysteine, which is said to be a superior antioxidant.
If you are on board with this claim, Aged Black Garlic is a great product, though most of the scientific research uses garlic extract prepared through more standard methods. If you aren’t getting the results you want through usual garlic supplements, Aged Black Garlic might be worth a try.
8. Nature’s Bounty Odorless Garlic
Nature’s Bounty uses a pretty standard formula with this garlic supplement: 1000 mg per softgel capsule, delivered using soybean oil and a gelatin capsule.
It isn’t particularly innovative, and doesn’t quite measure up to the purity and potency found in other garlic supplements, meaning it finds itself further down in the rankings.
9. Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract
Kyolic uses a special aging process that it claims improves the bioavailability and potency of the garlic powder used in the supplement. Even so, the garlic content is quite low.
Each capsule only contains 300 mg of garlic powder, meaning you’ll need a much higher dose to achieve the same results as with a different supplement. The capsules also use milk-derived whey as a binder, meaning this product is a no-go if you have a dairy sensitivity.
10. NOW Odorless Garlic
NOW Odorless Garlic is easy to find, but hard to endorse. With a miniscule 25 mg of garlic extract per capsule, and a lot of extra fillers like beeswax, soy lecithin, and silica, it’s very hard to recommend taking NOW Odorless Garlic, despite its popularity. Opt for a higher dose supplement with higher quality ingredients.
Who should buy garlic?
Garlic contains powerful antioxidant compounds that have a broad range of beneficial effects on the body: the ability of garlic to reduce inflammation levels has demonstrated benefits for blood pressure, cognitive function, and immunity.
Garlic is not often discussed among the superfoods, since it’s a bit different from the rest: it’s not a leafy green vegetable or a dark-colored fruit, but don’t let that fool you into thinking its antioxidant capabilities aren’t powerful.
Garlic is one of the best all-purpose antioxidants supplements thanks to the broad range of health conditions that it may help prevent.
Garlic works best for long-term health; it’s not necessarily going to power up your next workout session like a pre-workout might.
Most of the research on the benefits of garlic follows participants for several months at a time, so garlic is only a good idea if you are looking for a supplement that’s oriented towards long-term health. This strength and specific focus explains its popularity among older adults.
How we ranked
Our most important criteria for our garlic rankings was the dose of the biologically active ingredients in garlic that are thought to be responsible for its health benefits.
Nutrition researchers have pinpointed a molecule called allicin: it’s produced through an enzymatic process when garlic is crushed, and it is thought to be a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Because of these benefits, allicin is a convenient metric for assessing the dosage of a garlic supplement Indeed, clinical trials of garlic typically standardize the garlic dosage by calculating the number of micrograms of allicin present in a given supplement.
We only ranked products that used garlic alone, not in combination with other herbs or supplements. We had a strong preference for products that explicitly stated their allicin content, versus only providing the amount of raw garlic.
Like with other plant-derived supplements, the allicin content of garlic can vary from one plant to another, so it’s harder to get a standardized dose if you don’t know the actual allicin content.
We rated products that specified their allicin content highly, and we specifically looked for products whose dosage lined up with what’s been used in scientific research. The rest of the pack, including the products that only listed their total garlic extract content, came in lower in the rankings.
We also reviewed the other ingredients in the garlic supplements that were up for consideration in our rankings. As always, we applied stringent standards for purity and clean supplement design.
Products with too much in the way of binders, fillers, and stabilizers didn’t make the cut. Since garlic supplements are popular with vegetarians and vegans, we leaned towards rating products higher, all else equal, if they used a cellulose-based capsule as opposed to a gelatin-based capsule.
Finally, we sorted the remaining products by their overall quality, which resulted in our rankings. These are the top garlic supplements on the market right now.
The medicinal properties of garlic have been valued for thousands of years. Known for its versatility in treating a range of maladies and health problems, garlic was prescribed by Hippocrates in ancient Greece and used by Chinese, Egyptian and Roman doctors, as well as many other respected cultures through the years. (1)
Besides the flavorful addition it makes in a variety of food dishes, garlic can boost the immune system, reduce high blood pressure, protect against neurological disorders, and maybe even help you live longer.
Garlic is like a jack of all trades when it comes to your health, working its magic on one level while yielding benefits you might not expect in a whole different arena.
A member of the allium family along with onions, leeks and shallots, garlic is both nutritious and delicious; cashing in on the goods is as simple as shucking off the papery outer layer and crushing a clove to release the powerful sulfur compounds.
Garlic’s nutritional profile is impressive because it contains at least a little of many substances we need for good health, including vitamin C and B6, selenium, manganese, potassium, calcium and copper. It’s low in calories at 42 per ounce, and provides a little shot of protein, a few carbs, and some fiber. (2)
The active ingredient in garlic is called allicin. The allicin in garlic is responsible for the distinctive smell, and it also imparts the most potent biological effects of the active compounds, traveling from the digestive system to all parts of the body.
If you toss a whole clove of garlic into a stew or sauce, the allicin stays locked up; release it by cutting or crushing the clove. It’s best to let it sit for a few minutes before adding it to a recipe.
Some people chew garlic cloves for medicinal purposes, but because it’s so strong, most prefer using it to enhance flavor in savory dishes.
Garlic can help improve heart health. With cardiovascular disease the leading cause of death worldwide, incorporating a natural substance proven to enhance circulatory health is a smart move.
In a 24-week study, the effects of garlic on lowering blood pressure was compared to the prescription drug Atenolol. Doses of aged garlic extract between 600 and 1500 mg daily proved as effective as Atenolol in bringing participants’ blood pressure into normal ranges. (5)
It would take about four cloves of garlic a day to provide the same amount in the extract used for the study.
Garlic can enhance the response of your immune system. If you like the idea of suffering less often from catching or cold or coming down with the flu, eating your garlic is a good bet.
One study with a large number of participants found that the incidence of colds was reduced by 63% in the group taking a garlic supplement as compared to the group taking a placebo. Of those in the garlic group who caught a cold, the length of time they had symptoms was 70% less than the others, at a day and a half rather than 5 days. (10)
A work-related study showed that employees who took garlic extract dropped their total sick days by more than 60%. The amount used in the study was about 2.5 grams daily. (11)
Garlic could help protect brain function as you get older. Antioxidants work in our bodies to eliminate free radicals, minimizing oxidative damage that contributes to aging and disease. Garlic is loaded with antioxidants (12) and also stimulates the body’s production of antioxidant enzymes. (13)
When the positive effects of garlic on blood pressure and cholesterol levels are taken into consideration with these increased antioxidants, the potential for preventing neurological degradation grows, making it less likely garlic-eaters will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. (14)
Garlic can help support stronger bones. Garlic may be useful in correcting hormonal imbalances contributing to osteoporosis, a common problem for women as they age.
In a clinical trial with postmenopausal women, daily doses comparable to 2 grams of fresh garlic bolstered estrogen levels, correcting a deficiency associated with bone loss. (15) Animal studies confirmed this effect. (16)
Along with onions, garlic has also been shown to have positive effects on patients suffering from osteoarthritis. (17)
Garlic can help detox your body. Organ damage is one of the devastating results of exposure to heavy metals, and garlic helps the body flush toxic substances in its natural cleansing process.
Workers in a battery manufacturing facility exposed to high levels of lead dropped blood levels of the metal by 19% in a single month by taking massive doses of garlic. Frequency and intensity of headaches also decreased, and garlic did a better job of clearing clinical symptoms than D-penicillimine, the prescription drug given to the control group. (18)
Garlic could enhance endurance performance. Known as an enhancer of athletic performance, garlic was given to competitors in the original Greek Olympic games; it was also administered to manual laborers to combat fatigue. (19)
Rats run faster for longer periods when they eat garlic, and human studies show garlic can help lower fatigue levels resulting from strenuous exercise. (20)
Heart disease patients taking garlic oil during a 6-week study dropped peak heart rates by 12% and improved their capacity for tolerating exercise. (21)
Garlic can help your gut bacteria fight heart disease risk. In addition to garlic’s direct benefits on heart health, the biologically active compounds in garlic appear to interact with the probiotic bacteria in your gut to help reduce your risk for heart disease.
One of the newer risk factors for heart disease that has been discovered is a compound called TMAO. This chemical is produced by bacteria in your gut when they break down carnosine, a compound made of amino acids that’s found in high quantities in meat.
TMAO is thought to be at least partially responsible for the increased risk of heart disease among people who eat a lot of meat. The good news is that new research suggests that garlic could slow down and inhibit the conversion of carnosine into TMAO.
A study published in 2015 in the Journal of Functional Foods by a team of researchers in Taiwan used a series of mice experiments to show that allicin from garlic is able to inhibit the bacterial generation of allicin (22). Mice were fed a high-carnosine diet, and predictably, developed high levels of TMAO.
But, when allicin from freshly cut garlic was included in the diet of the mice, TMAO levels were lower, even with high levels of carnosine intake. The researchers were able to show that this effect was mediated by gut bacteria, suggesting that people who eat a lot of red meat may want to take a garlic supplement to help mitigate the potential for an increased risk of heart disease.
However, one limitation of this study was its use of mouse models—they don’t provide clear dosage recommendations for using garlic supplementation in humans to limit TMAO formation.
Since garlic supplements are derived from a commonly used food, it should not be too surprising to hear that garlic’s side effect profile is pretty mild.
According to a brief for primary care doctors by Dr. Ellen Tattelman at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, garlic supplements can generate a garlic-like breath and body odor, and less commonly, flatulence and gastrointestinal discomfort (23).
Garlic is not known to have any specific drug interactions, but Dr. Tattelman cautions that, like with many other supplements, people taking blood thinners and anticoagulants like warfarin should talk to their doctor first before they start taking a garlic supplement.
Clinical trials using garlic supplements have not reported any severe side effects. Garlic’s relative safety is part of its appeal as a supplement for long-term health.
A wide range of doses have been used in clinical research on garlic, owing to the wide variability in the method of delivery and the standardization of supplements.
Research has ranged from studies that use actual cloves of raw garlic as the unit of dosage (typically one to two cloves is the standard, if you’re wondering), to milligrams of garlic extract, which is sometimes standardized to a certain allicin content. The strongest research uses doses of standardized allicin content, with approximately 4000 micrograms per day as a reasonable dose (24).
That usually comes from a dose of around 300 to 400 mg of garlic extract, though it depends on the specific product and (as we’re about to see) how you take it.
Dose is not the only important When taking garlic, it’s important to consider how and when you take it. The actual amount of allicin that your body absorbs depends strongly on how much of the supplement makes it through the acidic environment of your stomach.
One study reported that the negative results from some of the clinical trials on using garlic supplements could be related to their poor resistance to stomach acid, which results in far less allicin being released into the body (25).
Based on this testing, we can conclude that it is best to take garlic on an empty stomach or at least with a light meal as opposed to a large meal, and to try to avoid food for the next hour or two after taking it.
This means that the best time to take garlic might be right before bed—this would also help you avoid having garlic on your breath during the day, and would mitigate the food issue as well. The rationale behind taking garlic on an empty stomach is to speed its passage into your bloodstream and minimize the time that stomach acid has to deteriorate the enzyme that produces allicin.
Q: Are garlic pills as good as fresh garlic?
A: While fresh garlic is probably the most effective way to get a huge dose of allicin, the problem with fresh garlic is that you can’t get a good estimate of the dosage.
Even consuming a standardized amount of garlic (like two cloves, or a certain number of grams of raw garlic) can lead to different amounts of allicin being released depending on how the garlic is processed and cut.
Garlic that is crushed more strongly, or shredded, will generate more allicin than garlic that is roughly sliced. So, the benefit of a garlic supplement is the delivery of a consistent amount of the active ingredient in garlic.
Q: Is garlic good for your brain?
A: Garlic’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it well-suited for protecting cognitive function. In some research, garlic has demonstrated the potential to slow cognitive declines that occur with aging, or in progressive cognitive degeneration conditions like dementia.
While there is more research to be done when it comes to testing these mechanisms in clinical trials, the mechanistic evidence does suggest that garlic has powerful brain-protecting benefits.
Q: Is raw garlic good for you?
A: Raw garlic is a good source of allicin, especially when it is finely cut or well-crushed. Allicin is formed when an enzyme in garlic interacts with other compounds also contained within the cell walls of garlic—it’s actually a protective mechanism against pests—but it turns out that allicin is quite healthy for your body.
The only problem with raw garlic as opposed to a garlic supplement is that you don’t get a consistent dose every time, because the formation of allicin depends on the plant and on how it’s cut or crushed.
Q: Does garlic interfere with blood pressure medication?
A: Some doctors are worried that garlic can amplify the effects of blood pressure lowering medication, so it is not recommended to take a garlic supplement if you are taking a blood pressure medication.
This same restriction applies to blood thinners like warfarin too. If you are unsure, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about your medications before you start a supplementation routine.
Q: When should you take a garlic supplement?
A: The best time to take a garlic supplement is probably at night, because you’re likely to have an empty stomach when you take it. Getting the active ingredients in garlic supplements to pass through your stomach fairly quickly is important, because the enzyme that generates allicin is degraded by highly acidic environments like the stomach.
So, eating garlic alongside a large meal is bad news, because it will languish in your stomach for hours, with most of the allicin never getting generated or absorbed.
Q: What should you look for in a garlic supplement?
A: By far the most important criteria for a garlic supplement is its dosage. The best supplements will actually specify their allicin content, in micrograms.
You’ll want a garlic supplement that provides somewhere in the vicinity of 4000 mg of allicin per day. However, sometimes the actual allicin content isn’t available. In this case, you should shoot for around 300 mg of garlic extract per day from a garlic supplement.
Q: What happens if you take too much garlic supplement?
A: Garlic’s side effect profile is pretty mild, so there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of risks from taking too much of a garlic supplement.
You might have garlic on your breath and a garlic-like body odor for a while, and at high doses you may get gas and stomach discomfort. The only people who do need to worry about problems from excessive garlic supplement doses are people who are taking medication to lower their blood pressure, or people taking blood thinners like warfarin. In these cases, though, you should already be talking to your doctor before taking a garlic supplement.
Q: Why does a garlic supplement make your breath smell?
A: Garlic breath, whether it’s from raw garlic or a garlic supplement, can be traced to the sulfur content of chemicals in garlic. Even allicin, the molecule thought to be responsible for the health benefits of garlic, contains a sulfur molecule at its core.
When these sulfur-containing compounds interact with the highly acidic environment of your stomach, or get digested by enzymes and bacteria in your mouth, the result is volatile and smelly compounds that are sulfur-based.
While some garlic supplements advertise themselves as “odorless,” the truth is that any garlic supplement that contains allicin is necessarily going to generate some garlic smell if you are susceptible to it, due to the sulfur content.
The benefits of adding garlic to your diet stretch across the board.
Be cautious with medicinal doses if you’re taking blood thinners or blood pressure medication, though, as some doctors are concerned about potential interactions.
For the most consistent dose, take a garlic supplement that provides on the order of 4000 micrograms of allicin. Garlic is best taken on an empty stomach to optimize the amount of allicin that is absorbed into your body.
If you’re using it medicinally or eating a lot of fresh garlic, you may want to find a good mouthwash: bad breath is one of the few side effects of garlic supplementation, alongside garlic-like body odor.
While no hard evidence exists that garlic can extend lifespan, its ability to improve circulation, fight sickness, and flush toxins increase the likelihood you’ll live longer, stay stronger, and still remember who you are and where you live.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 garlic supplement recommendation, click here.