Gelatin capsules are one of the ways medications and supplements are formulated for oral consumption. Encapsulation protects the active ingredients in gelatin capsules from exposure to outside contaminants, environmental degradation and possible loss or exposure to unwilling parties. Manufacturers describe gel capsules by their texture and the manufacturing process. Consumers choose gel capsules for their ease of digestion or palatability. Despite these differences, little variation exists between the types of gelatin capsules available on the market.
Types of Gelatin Capsules
Two types of gelatin capsule textures exist: hard gel capsules and soft gel capsules. Hard gelatin capsules usually contain dry or powdered medications or supplements, whereas soft gelatin capsules typically contain oils or solutions in which the active ingredient is mixed with or dissolved in oil.
Properties of Gelatin Capsules
Gelatin capsules date back to the mid 1800’s with the patent for the first soft gel capsule. Since their inception, gel capsules have provided consumers with a palatable, digestible alternative to conventional tablets and oral suspensions. Encapsulation provides protection for medications, though curious consumers may wonder what gel capsules are and what they’re made of. The properties of gel capsules are generally the same across the spectrum, regardless of the variations on manufacture and appearance.
What Are the Benefits of Gelatin Capsules?
Gelatin capsules are easily digested and dissolve within minutes of reaching the stomach, according to physician Ray Sahelian, who has a website devoted to natural supplements. This ensures that the medicine or supplement won’t pass through the digestive system without being absorbed.
Using soft gel capsules can increase the bioavailability of poorly absorbed or poorly soluble nutrients, according to the Natural Products Insider website. Through stabilizing, solubilizing or other techniques, manufacturers can enhance the effectiveness of nutrients such as coenzyme Q10, carotenoids and certain herbal extracts. Many of these methods are not possible with solid materials.