Why opt for capsules?


Capsules are a solid oral dosage form for the delivery of life-saving drugs, mineral, vitamins or other healthy ingredients via supplements. These convenient packages enable reliable dosing, portability and high consumer compliance. Alternatives include more cumbersome liquid, powder or paste formulations. As the world's population ages and as we deal with COVID-19, health-minded consumers require dosage formats that are easy to use, easy to swallow and portable.

What are gelatin capsules?

Gelatin capsules – the global preference – are an elegant form with gelatin as the primary gelling ingredient.

Gelatin Capsules

What are the benefits of gelatin capsules for nutrients and medications?


In these dosage forms, the medications or dietary supplements are safe and able to be safely stored. Gelatin, a pure protein, is tasteless, gluten-free, GMO-free and offers a benign oral dosage form that creates a pleasant experience for the consumer. It enables producers to customize based on color, shape or size in order to meet the requirements of the active fills and of the targeted demographics. Gelatin also enables a diverse range of release profiles from enteric (slow) release to fast release of the active fill, allowing producers to accommodate a wide spectrum of fills while meeting consumer needs.  And, reputable gelatin suppliers offer Halal and Kosher certifications for different gelatin types to satisfy wide-ranging consumer requirements and preferences.

What is the difference between soft gelatin capsules (softgels or gel caps) and hard gelatin capsules (hardcaps)?


Gelatin capsules are available in two basic types: 1) hard capsules or hardcaps and 2) soft capsules or softgels. Hard capsules are made of two cylindrical shells – each closed off at one end. The upper part, called the cap, has a slightly larger diameter than the lower part, called the body. These two parts fit together perfectly to form a hermetically closed unit.

  • Hardcaps are produced before filling with the active ingredient. In a secondary step, contract manufacturers or brand owners fill the active ingredient or drug in the empty gelatin capsules. 
  • Softgels (or soft capsules) are one-piece capsules that are hermetically sealed that contain liquids or semisolid fills. Unlike hard capsules, softgels are filled at the same time as the capsule is produced.


What is the difference between capsules and tablets or pills?


Different than tablets – that are essentially compressed powders, gelatin capsules are convenient delivery systems that beautifully encapsulate the active fills. Because of capsules‘ low friction properties – they are easy to swallow, which promotes higher compliance. Pills are often a generic term to encompass any solid oral delivery of drugs or minerals and vitamins.

What kind of gelatin is used in softgels?

The primary gelatin types used in capsules are typically from bovine or porcine raw materials. Depending on the fill, formulation and on the target market group, manufacturers have flexibility in the raw material type, with some opting for a combination of porcine and bovine options. Bovine bone gelatin, for example, contributes to capsule firmness. Porcine options, on the other hand, offers plasticity and clarity characteristics. 


What kind of gelatin is normally used in capsules?

The primary gelatin types used in capsules are typically from bovine or porcine sources. 

Gelatin Capsules


Are gelatin capsules allergenic?

The gelatin in capsules is virtually non-allergenic. Gelatin is derived from naturally occurring collagen found in connective tissue. Gelatin is a pure protein, is easily digestible and free from side effects.


Are gelatin capsules vegan/vegetarian?

Gelatin capsules are not vegan nor vegetarian. Vegetarian capsules or vegan capsules, although a much smaller component of the global market, serve niche segments. 


Can capsules be made from things other than gelatin?

Capsules can be made from gelatin or from other hydrocolloids (gelling agents). Gelatin, however, has been used for oral dosage forms for hundreds of years and is beloved and expected by consumers around the world. Although, gelatin capsules are considered a gold standard, in the past decades, new developments for plant based gelling excipients have emerged, such as starches, chemical modified cellulose like hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), carrageenan, pullulan, etc. to meet the requirements for vegan or vegetarian formulations.



Why are softgels preferred over other formats?

Like their hard capsule counterparts, softgels offer value to consumers and producers alike. These advantages are due largely due to their main component, gelatin.

How do capsules work in the body?

Gelatin means "stiff" and is a colorless dry powder that has been used for centuries in a host of food and pharmaceutical uses.  For consumers, gelatin dissolves in the human body at normal body temperature, making it the ideal ingredient in softgels. While protecting the precious actives inside the capsule against oxygen, light, moisture and dust, the gelatin of the softgels affords consumers easy swallowing. Consumers also appreciate that the capsule size and color can help them to more easily identify the respective pharmaceutical drug or nutrient inside.

Is there a standard size of gelatin capsule?

There is no standard capsule size. Gelatin lends itself to a high degree of flexibility, allowing capsule producers to custom size, shape and color!

Are gelatin capsules safe?

The gelatin in capsules is safe and meets and often exceeds the required regulations for use in pharmaceutical or health & nutrition supplements. Reputable gelatin suppliers adhere to strict quality requirements and local and global regulations. Further, these same gelatin companies administer rigorous physical, chemical and microbiological testing before the gelatin is released to capsule producers.


Do you have questions? Get connected with GELITA 

Just let us know if you still have any questions around the topic Capsules and Gelatine. You can also schedule a more in-depth conversation with one of our commercial or application service experts that will help you to find the perfect match. Our GELITA team will be here whenever you need us.

Get Connected