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Gelatin Capsules vs HPMC Capsules

Apr. 23, 2021

Gelatin Capsules vs HPMC Capsules

The demand for gelatin capsules/HPMC capsules has increased significantly because of its widespread use without any fillers.

For many years, gel capsules have been the first choice for capsule shells in the pharmaceutical industry and are planned to remain popular, however vegetarian capsules such as hydroxypropyl methylcellulose or HPMC capsules have begun to penetrate.

Gelatin capsules

Gelatin is a protein and an important part of human consumption and development. It is recognized as safe (GRAS) by most regulatory agencies in pharmaceutical and food consumption. It is GMO-free, completely natural and non-allergenic. Gelatin capsules are usually extracted from beef or pork, along with water and a plasticizer, such as glycerin, to provide durability. Gelatin capsules are good for both consumers and manufacturers.

There are two types of gelatin capsules; hard gelatin capsules are used for solid substances and soft gelatin capsules.

Easy to digest

Gel capsules are easy to digest and dissolve within a few minutes to reach the stomach for digestion. This ensures that the drug or supplement will not pass through the consumer's digestive system without being absorbed.

Improve bioavailability

The use of soft gelatin capsules can increase the bioavailability of nutrients that are difficult to absorb or dissolve. Through stabilization, dissolution and other technologies, manufacturers can increase the effectiveness of contained nutrients such as herbs and supplements such as coenzyme q10. Many of these methods are impossible for solid materials.

Consuming capsules

Due to the smooth texture of the gel capsule, it is easier for some people to consume it. They can also mask any unpleasant tastes from the supplements inside. For example, most people hate the taste of fish oil, but know the benefits it can provide to the body, so it is much more convenient to substitute capsules.


Because the gelatin capsule has a strong and approved technology, the cost of manufacturing the gelatin shell is very low. In contrast, the investment cost of HPMC technology is higher, and the complexity involved is greater.

HPMC capsules

Several materials have been tested as alternatives to gelatin capsules. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) has become a successful alternative to two-piece capsules and is used in supplements all over the world.

Hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose is called "hydroxypropyl cellulose" in the world, and it is made from chemically synthesized polymer cellulose. It is considered safe for normal human consumption and is often used as an alternative to gelatin because of its vegetarian source and its physical appearance of gelatin.

Since 1998, this plant-derived cellulose has been a choice for vegetarian capsules in pharmaceutical applications. It is a physically stable polymer that can withstand severe high temperature and humidity conditions and has a low moisture content, which makes it suitable for moisture-sensitive ingredients. The role of HPMC capsules is to protect their contents from degradation or product changes, which means insulation against temperature fluctuations or moisture exposure, and the stability of the capsule material is a key factor in product development.

HPMC is also used as a film coating or sustained-release tablet material in the medical field. HPMC capsules have developed medicinal products and dietary supplements that not only withstand temperature excursions, but also meet dietary requirements.

HPMC capsules contain a gel to achieve intestinal properties, allowing to protect sensitive ingredients from the acid environment of the stomach and completely dissolve in the intestine. They also provide sufficient taste masking and acid resistance to prevent gastric reflux of fish oil and have become the choice of many probiotic, herbal or mineral formulas on the market today.

HPMC-based Capsules can also play a role in solving poor bioavailability. These capsules can interact with poorly soluble APIs, resulting in a lower crystallization rate in the gastrointestinal tract, which is very important when there are supersaturated APIs in the intestines or when closing either a high-energy salt form or a weakly basic APIs.


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