Gelatin capsules used for vitamin and dietary supplements, see a list of hundreds of topics on natural health and medicine
September 24 2015 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Gelatin is a colorless or slightly yellow, nearly tasteless and odorless substance obtained by boiling the skin, tendons, and ligaments of animals. As a result, it contains protein, collagen (a primary component of joints, cartilage, and nails), and various amino acids. It has long been a key ingredient for providing support for "jelled" desserts, salads, frozen drinks. Gelatin (also gelatine)  has many uses in food, medicine, and manufacturing. Substances that contain or resemble gelatin are called gelatinous. Gelatin is a common substance used in capsules for vitamins and herbs and is harmless, basically providing some protein and amino acids.


Dietary supplement capsules
The gelatin used in capsules most often comes from beef or pork. There has never been a case of mad cow disease documented from the ingestion of gelatin found in dietary supplement capsules.



Q. They say that vitamins, herbs, medicines are only as good as the capsule they come in, that if the capsule doesn't dissolve with in an hour or something like that, that you won't get the benifits of the contents because it will go right through you with out getting absorbed, my question is how do I know that I am buying a product that the capsule (when applicable) will dissolve?

   A. Most of the vitamin products are in gelatin capsules that dissolve within minutes in the stomach, so there is no concern with this. If you really wish to take the herbs without the capsule, they can easily be opened by pulling on each side and emptying the contents.


Q. I see these in a capsule for different herbs and supplements: Other ingredients: Gelatin, microcrystalline cellulose, stearic acid and magnesium stearate. What are they for?
   A. These ingredients are necessary to allow the herb or nutrient not to coalesce and clump, they are used in most capsules.


Q. I get a vitamin catalog and saw a product called Gelatin 10 gr. capsules - supports the beauty of nails. Does this gelatin capsule product work to improve the health of nails. The vitamin catalog add says, "An active lifestyle, harsh detergents, on-the-run nutrition all can have an effect on the health of your nails. Gelatin is one of the raw materials for collagen, the building block for strong, healthy nails."
   A. I seriously doubt taking these collagen pills will help your nails, unless for some reason you have a diet severly deficient in protein which is quite uncommon in Western countries.


Q. I have a daughter who is on a low protein diet due to a metabolic disorder (OTC). We use size 000 gelatin capsules to give her one of the supplements she takes due to the bad taste. I can't find any information on protein count on empty 000 gelatin capsules. She takes about 27-28 capsules each day.
   A. 1 cap 00 weighs 120 mg, of which 80% is gelatin. Therefore, one capsule contains about 100 mg of protein. Each gram of protein is 4 calories. One gram equals 1000 mg.


Q. Can you explain why some of the supplements use gelatin capsules instead of veggiecaps? As a vegan I am excluded from using some of the products you formulate. |
   A. Some supplement products can cost as much as 50 cents or a dollar more when veggie caps are used instead of gelatin. Since fewer than one or two percent of users are strict vegans, the additional cost does not justify it. Some people are fine with opening a gelatin capsule by pulling on each side and using the contents without the gelatin.


Q. Hi could you please tell me if the gelatin capsules for CoQ 10 and l-Carnitine products are made from a porcine (pork) source - or not? Thanks, I want to eat kosher.
   A. The gelatin capsule can vary between batches and sometimes it is pork, other times bovine, other times mixed with both porcine and bovine. If you adhere to strict kosher guidelines, you may with to avoid these products.


Q. I like to know what kind of gelatin use to make capsule. Or is their any other gelatin in the ingredients to make Passion Rx.
   A. Gelatin is usually from beef. Gelatin is the capsule. The contents do not have gelatin, so if you pull on each end of the capsule and just use the contents, you will not get any of this substance.


Q. I am a Muslim consumer. I would like to know from what source has the gelatin capsule is derived from. Animal or plant. If animal, what sort of animal would that be. And the capsule gelatin is source from which country?
   A. The gelatin capsule for most supplement products comes from animals such as cattle or pork from the USA.


Q. I am interested in purchasing Advance Physician Formula products. I would like to know what the source of gelatin is. If it is animal, then is it pork or beef, mixed or something else?
   A. It is not easy to know for sure since the manufacturer mostly uses bovine, sometimes porcine sources of gelatin, sometimes both, and each batch may be different. One option is to pull on each end of the gelatin capsules and empty the contents in water or juice, this way you would not be ingesting any of the gelatin.


What kind of gelatin is used in supplements sold over the counter?
   Most supplements use bovine derived gelatin, others a combination of bovine and porcine, and a small minority of porcine alone.


I ordered products like Muira Puama, Prostate Power rx, valerian root, and passion flower and I love them very much and I like all products you do. I noticed that most products ingredients have gelatin. Is this animal such as pork or are this gelatin derived from vegitables or koshar, please advice me?


I recently read that supplements using gelatin capsules should not be ingested because the heating process causes them to turn to a trans fat. Is this true, and can you shed some light on the subject?
   We have not had any untoward reactions reported to us from such ingestion thus far, the amount of the gelatin by weight is so small as to be insignificant. Most capsules can be opened by pulling on each side and emptying the contents if some people prefer this option.


Passion Rx
Q. From what source the product capsule, gelatin is made of? i can only take halal and kosher capsules (only if they are from beef source) . You must be knowing well, we avoid pork strictly. If the source is beef and NOT Halal i can still buy it and remove the contents of the capsule. The other query i had is, what is the overall effectiveness of Passion Rx for men in terms of sexual enjoyment ,sensation and duration of orgasms for people with mild to moderate sexual dysfunction. I have some elderly relatives who struggle with sexual issues , so i can recommend them.
   A. The gelatin capsule used for Passion Rx is bovine source. Passion Rx works very well for sexual enhancement. In people older than 65, we suggest using a capsule every other day. The sexual enhancement in low dosages comes a little slower, but this avoids or minimizes any side effects on high dosages.


Softgel caps
J Pharm Sci. 2010. Soft gelatin capsules (softgels). It is estimated that more than 40% of new chemical entities (NCEs) coming out of the current drug discovery process have poor biopharmaceutical properties, such as low aqueous solubility and/or permeability. These suboptimal properties pose significant challenges for the oral absorption of the compounds and for the development of orally bioavailable dosage forms. Development of soft gelatin capsule (softgel) dosage form is of growing interest for the oral delivery of poorly water soluble compounds (BCS class II or class IV). The softgel dosage form offers several advantages over other oral dosage forms, such as delivering a liquid matrix designed to solubilize and improve the oral bioavailability of a poorly soluble compound as a unit dose solid dosage form, delivering low and ultra-low doses of a compound, delivering a low melting compound, and minimizing potential generation of dust during manufacturing and thereby improving the safety of production personnel. However, due to the very dynamic nature of the softgel dosage form, its development and stability during its shelf-life are fraught with several challenges. The goal of the current review is to provide an in-depth discussion on the softgel dosage form to formulation scientists who are considering developing softgels for therapeutic compounds.