Are vegetarian capsules actually better than gelatin capsules?

Are vegetarian capsules actually better than gelatin capsules?

Supplements are the big rage these days, and there’s multitudes of information on what supplements you should and shouldn't be taking and why you may need them. But what is generally overlooked when it comes to all this research is the vehicle that carries these supplements.

It’s easy to assume that all pills and capsules are made the same, but there are some key differences that may actually affect your overall health.
There are two primary types of capsules: the gelatin based capsule and the vegetarian capsule, and although they may both look the same, the differences begin with what they are made of.

Gelatin capsules are made through a process wherein bones, connective tissue, and other parts of cattle are boiled down to create a gel like substance, which is also used as the base for most jellies. As it cools and expands in water, it loses its taste, odour, and colour, and is finally in a form that can be consumed on a daily basis.

While gelatin capsules can be the more cost effective option with its own health benefits like improving skin and joint health due to its high collagen content, gelatin capsules are not stable when they are exposed to heat or humidity. This poses a storage challenge to people who may live in areas of high heat and humidity.

Additionally, gelatin capsules can hold only a limited range of filling as it does degenerate when it comes in contact with aldehydic end-products, mostly materials in liquid and semi-liquid form.

Finally, for people that follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, or have religious views against using animal products, a capsule made of gelatin is not the most ideal.

An alternative to a gelatin based capsule that has come about in recent years is the vegetarian capsule that is made of hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose (HPMC), which is an important structural component in plants.
Since these capsules are derived from plants, it becomes a natural system of delivery of supplements, and works just as fast as the gelatin based capsules.

The primary advantage that vegetarian capsules have over gelatin based capsules is that they have a high level of stability, in heat, humidity and do not degrade when exposed to light.

Vegetarian capsules can also hold a much higher range of fillings, including semi-solids, gels, powders and solids, even those containing aldehyde groups.

Also, since the capsule is made of plant substances, it is free of toxins and can easily be absorbed by the body without posing health risks.

Even though both pills have their advantages and disadvantages, it is evident that vegetarian capsules do edge over gelatin-based capsules as the better option, primarily because of its high-stability factor and high-acceptance rate among people with dietary or religious restrictions.

At the end of the day, the choice is in the hands of the consumer and what they choose to put into their bodies. So while you research what supplements you choose to invest in, make sure to be aware of what they come packaged in.

Vegan capsules:

  • easily absorbed by the body
  • high level of stability, in heat, humidity and light.
  • free of toxins.
  • Ideal for vegetarians and vegans


Gelatin Capsules:

  • degenerate when it comes in contact with aldehydic end-products
  • not stable when they are exposed to heat or humidity
  • May contain toxic materials
  • Made from animal products
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