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Gelatin Capsules-The Ultimate Guide

Gelatin capsules are convenient alternatives to the bitter tasting, unpleasant, and hard to swallow tablets.

They are common methods for taking blends of custom diet supplements, vitamins, and herbal supplements among others.

In this guide, you are going to learn about every fact on gelatin capsules including how it works among others.

Benefits of Using Gelatin Capsules

Some of the reasons why you should take gelatin capsules are:

Figure 1 Gelatin capsules

· Affordable heap in comparison to vegetable capsules

· In increases the bioavailability of poorly soluble nutrients

· Easy to swallow because of the smooth texture

· Helps in masking the bad taste and odor of other supplements such as tablets

· Dissolves very easily after digestion

· Available in different sizes such as 3,2,1,0,00 and 000

· Has hermetical and tight seals making them tamper proof and protects the inner materials from destruction by environmental factors.

· Safe alternative to consume as it comes from healthy sources such as animal products.

Uses of Gelatin Capsules

You can use gelatin capsules for quite a number of functions including:

Figure 2 Types of gelatin capsules

· Hard gelatin capsules are acid resistant and delay the release of the inner active ingredients.

It serves as a great alternative for people who experience stomach irritation when they consume Softgel capsules.

· Improving the health of your skin and enhances the tone and evenness of the skin.

It enhances the production of collagen in the body thus reducing the formation of wrinkles by tightening the skin.

· Providing enough protein to the body resulting to healthy hair and better finger nails among other protein functions.

· Aiding in digestive functions and health by improving the ability of the body to digest foods and beverages.

· Ease of joint pains by improving muscle action through the amino acids in gelatin

· Assist in controlling the blood sugar levels in your body

· Maintain healthy bones by preventing the deterioration of cartilage that help in maintaining the bones in place.

· Aiding in weight loss due to high protein content and low calorie content.

· Improving the quality of sleep by enhancing energy and supplementing the body with enough gelatin that fights fatigue.

· Improving the quality of your liver through the detoxification functions of the amino acids glycine.

· Ingestion of certain key materials such as dietary formula to assist in treatment of different diseases such as phenylketonuria.

Limitations of Gelatin Capsules

Gelatin may not be an option for some people mainly because:

Figure 3 Soft gelatin capsules

· Gelatin is a derivative of animal products such as bones, hides and skin.

It makes the gelatin capsules a total reject for vegetarians and people following a religious diet restriction.

· Apart from that, there is the fear that gelatin may contain contaminations from animal tissues that may cause more diseases.

Although such risks are low many fear the use of gelatin capsules may lead to the transmission of mad cow disease.

· Gelatin may also cause allergic reactions in some people.

Other people complain about unpleasantness in taste, heavy sensations in the stomach, heartburn, belching, and bloating.

· During breastfeeding and pregnancy, it is important to stay on the safe side and avoid gelatin capsules.

There is very little to no evidence on the medical effects of using gelatin capsules in pregnancies.

· Continuous consumption of gelatin capsules over a long period may become toxic to the body.

· Restricts the addition of certain components

· Highly sensitive to moisture

Comparison Between Gelatin vs. Vegetarian Capsules

Capsules are available in two distinct categories which are the conventional gelatin capsules and vegetarian counterparts.

Figure 4 Veg vs Gel Capsules

Both capsules serve the need of medication but they also have certain differences.

Similarities between Gelatin capsules and Vegetarian Capsules

Gelatin capsules and Vegetarian capsules are all available in different shapes, flavors, sizes and color.

Both categories also allow you to come up with your own custom design of a capsule.

You can also store both of them for a long period without risking bacterial growth.

Both categories are fast reacting and react in the stomach except for the hard gelatin capsules which are acid resistant.

Differences between Gelatin Capsules and Vegetarian Capsules

Gelatin capsules are derivatives of animal byproducts while vegetarian capsules are purely from vegetable products.

You can easily obtain gelatin from animal byproducts such as skin, bones, and hives. On the other hand, most vegetarian capsules are from specific plant products such as Tapioca.

Gelatin capsules have collagen as the main capsules base while vegetarian capsules rely on cellulose as the main capsule base.

Vegetarian capsules are for the people who do not consume animal products or follow a strict religious diet.

You will find the vegetarian capsule under the Halal or Kosher product classification. It is considerably a better option for all masses including people who do not have strict adherence to a diet.

Gelatin capsules are also most suitable for filling with powder supplements or medications. Various materials such as liquids are usually not compatible with gelatin capsules. Vegetarian capsules are, therefore, more suitable for filling gel and semi-solid materials.

Consumption of gelatin capsules over a long period may have considerable side effects on the body. This is not the case in vegetarian capsules since they are absolutely natural and non-toxic.

Difference Between Soft Gelatin Capsules and Hard Gelatin Capsules

Despite the fact that, both hard and soft gelatin capsules come from animal byproducts, they have their differences.

Figure 5 Hard gelatin capsules

Figure 6 Soft gelatin capsules

The main differences between the hard and the soft gelatin caps include:

i. Soft gelatin capsules have hermetical seals making them one piece capsules containing liquid or semi-solid fill.

On the other hand, hard gelatin capsules have two parts namely cap and body.

ii. Hard gelatin caps receive a permanent seal after filling.

Implying that the making of the parts of the body are distinct processes from filling them.

However, Softgel capsules combine both processes under the encapsulation of Softgel capsules.

iii. Hard gelatin capsules have a rigid cylindrical shape due to its nature.

Soft gelatin capsules are flexible and can assume any shape depending on your specifications.

iv. Soft gelatin capsules contain plasticizers, gelatin, sugars, preservatives, coloring and flavoring agents, and opacifiers as the main ingredients.

Hard gelatin capsules on the other hand, have gelatin, opacifiers, coloring and flavoring agents, and titanium dioxide as the ingredients.

It lacks plasticizers, hence the hardness of the capsule.

Apart from the structural differences, the hard and Softgel capsules also differ in terms of functionality.

Also, some hard gelatin capsules are acid resistant and will not disintegrate in the acidic stomach conditions.

It requires an environment with a higher pH such as the duodenum of the intestines before it finally disintegrates.

Most soft gelatin capsules on the other hand are not resistant to acids prompting disintegration in the acidic stomach environment.

How Long Gelatin Capsules take to Dissolve in Stomach

The time taken for a gelatin capsule to dissolve in the stomach depends on the following:

i. Type of gelatin capsule

ii. Content of the stomach

Figure 7 Capsule drug in stomach

Hard and soft gelatin capsules take different times to disintegrate in the stomach.

Soft gelatin capsules take a shorter period to dissolve in comparison to hard gelatin capsules.

For instance, soft gelatin capsules can take between 10 to 20 minutes to dissolve in the stomach.

The Softgel capsules will dissolve much faster if the stomach contents are wet and warm.

Hard gelatin capsules take longer and you may wait for more than two hours before it dissolves.

Usually, the hard gelatin capsules do not dissolve in the stomach due to the low pH in the stomach.

It will, however, dissolve in the upper part of the intestines where the pH is higher.

How Gelatin Acid Resistant Capsules Work

Gelatin Acid Resistant Capsules depend on the pH in the digestive track of the body to react.

Since it is resistant to acidic or low pH conditions, it will work best in higher pH conditions.

Figure 8 Acid resistant gelatin capsule

The resistance to acidic conditions are as a result of negative reactions in the stomach which often lead to irritations.

To avoid irritations, the capsules usually have target release ingredients prompting them to react as soon as they reach the target.

As soon as it reaches the stomach, the capsule usually stays intact until it moves and reaches the right point.

Once in an environment with a higher pH, gelatin acid resistant capsules disintegrates and releases the content resulting into pain relief.

What Gelatin Capsules are Made Of

Gelatin capsules are made of different ingredients such as:

Figure 9 Anatomy of hard gelatin