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How To Know Which Capsule Is Right for You

Jun. 29, 2023

A Capsule is a dosage form common in day-to-day health management. It exists as a packaging or a gummy and soluble envelope. Capsules are mostly without taste and are used as coats for drugs of liquid or pasty form. It can be made up of gelatin, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), and starch. Those made from materials other than gelatin are known as vegetarian capsules. In Choosing a capsule, you should know which one is right for you. Capsules can be divided based on the origin into vegetarian and gelatin capsules.


Gelatin capsules

also known as gelcaps or gelatin shells, are a common type of capsule used for encapsulating various substances, including medications, dietary supplements, and herbal extracts.


1. Composition:

Gelatin capsules are typically made from gelatin, a protein derived from animal sources, most commonly bovine or porcine hides and bones. Gelatin is processed and refined to create a clear, tasteless, and odorless material that can be easily formed into capsules.


2. Size and Varieties: 

Gelatin capsules come in various sizes to accommodate different volumes of fill material. The most common sizes are designated by numbers such as 00, 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4, with 00 being the largest and 4 being the smallest. There are also elongated or "caplet" shapes available.


3. Easy Digestion: 

Gelatin capsules are designed to dissolve and release their contents quickly in the stomach. The gelatin shell breaks down rapidly when it comes into contact with stomach acid, allowing for efficient absorption of the encapsulated substance.


Natural Plant Capsules

Natural Plant Capsules

Vegetarian capsules


also known as veggie capsules or vegetable capsules, are an alternative to traditional gelatin capsules. They are designed to meet the dietary preferences and restrictions of individuals who follow vegetarian or vegan lifestyles.

1. Composition:

Vegetarian capsules are typically made from plant-based materials, such as cellulose, hypromellose (HPMC), or starches derived from vegetables like tapioca or potato. These materials provide a suitable alternative to gelatin, which is derived from animal sources.


2. Vegan-Friendly: 

Vegetarian capsules are suitable for individuals who follow vegetarian or vegan diets and prefer to avoid animal-derived ingredients. They provide a plant-based alternative for encapsulating various substances.

3.  Allergen-Free: 

Vegetarian capsules are free from common allergens, such as gluten, dairy, and soy. This makes them suitable for individuals with specific allergies or sensitivities.


Gelatin Capsules or Vegetarian Capsules

When choosing a capsule, the gelatin capsule type will be the best for you when considering factors such as the cost, dissolution rate, and mechanical stability. Gelatin capsule dissolves readily in your stomach, and the active ingredients are released to be absorbed. It has one of the best API dissolution rates. With high dissolution, drugs are readily available for absorption into your body. Choosing capsules made from gelatin will be the best for fast drug onset.


When the cost factor is the primary concern, gelatin capsules would be most appropriate for you. They are cost-efficient compared to other capsule types. This is why most manufacturers will choose capsules made from gelatin. Ingredients for HPMC capsules are about three to four times higher than gelatin.


It is important to note that capsules have to be mechanically strong enough to cope with stress. Gelatin capsules have higher mechanical strength compared to other capsule types. Capsules made from gelatin are much stronger than capsules of different materials. So, if you want a mechanically stable capsule, those made from gelatin have upper hands.


Vegetarian capsules are most suitable for consumers who do not take products of animal origin such as gelatin or have dietary restrictions preventing them from consuming animal products. Also, people who have issues related to religion may go for vegetarian capsules.


When considering the aspect of stability, and solubility choosing capsules made from cellulose (vegetarian capsules) would be the best. Vegetarian capsules are less hygroscopic, making them more stable than gelatin capsules.


When to choose capsules with enteric coating

Enteric capsules are the best when choosing capsules for drugs that can irritate the stomach. Pharmaceutical capsules with enteric coating move through the stomach without upsetting the stomach walls.

Also, to choose capsules for drugs that are affected by gastric juices and enzymes, enteric capsules are mainly considered.

Enteric-coated capsules are used in time-sensitive medications. This is because they take a longer time (an hour or two) to dissolve. The empty capsules are usually made of gelatin or HPMC and have various HMPC or gelatin capsules sizes.


Remember, choosing the right capsule involves considering your individual needs, seeking professional advice, and evaluating the quality, safety, and value of the product. It's important to make informed decisions to ensure you're selecting a capsule that supports your health and well-being.

Natural Plant Capsules

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