Vegetable Caps

Vegetable Caps: The Ultimate Guide

Vegetable capsules have continued to gain popularity because of their favorable stability, bioavailability, and absorbability.

The numerous benefits, plus the full range of application areas have given these capsules an outright edge over other capsules.

In this guide, we delve deeper into the benefits, features, and manufacturing process of the veg capsules.

What are Veg Caps?

Veg caps are capsule shells made of cellulose that are used in the encapsulation of powders.

The veg caps offer a quality firm shelled capsule that is tasteless and also odorless.

Vegetable caps

Vegetable Caps

What Are Vegetable Caps Made Of?

The vegetable caps are made of all-natural ingredients with no application of any secondary agents of gelling.

The substances used are hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, (sometimes called hypromellose HPMC), and water only.



The hydroxypropyl methylcellulose is obtained from the bark of the spruce tree or even from the pine tree.

This makes it suitable to use with individuals with allergic or health-conscious problems.

Besides, these trees are common around the Mediterranean region or the south-western United States.

Furthermore, the substance does not contain any matter.

This attribute makes it suitable for both the vegans and vegetarian.

The vegetarian caps are distinctive from other gelatin capsules, which most of the time contains the animal matter.

Vegetarian capsules are therefore efficient for individuals who cannot take gelatin for cultural, religious, or even dietary reasons.

Vegetable Capsules Benefits

There are various benefits that individuals who prefer vegetable capsules to gelatin capsules enjoy.

Gelatin capsules

Gelatin Capsules

Most prefer to use vegetarian capsules because they do not have any animal by-products.

This is most important to individuals who are vegetarian minded.

Some of the benefits of the vegetarian capsule include;

  • Suitable to be used with hygroscopic products, moisture-sensitive products, and even liquid formulation products. Gelatin capsules are not ideal for these products.
  • Easy to take in or swallow
  • The caps are easily dissolvable
  • They exist in various sizes and colors
  • The caps are also acceptable to most religions and cultures.
  • Provide options for a wider customer base because they can be classified as both the Halal and the kosher products.
  • The vegetarian capsules are flexible in their applications
  • The capsules have no known health risks even after being consumed for an extended period. They are one hundred percent natural and non-toxic.

Disadvantages of Vegetable Caps

Even though the vegetable caps come with a lot of benefits, they also have some problems as discussed below.

  • The vegetable capsules are more expensive than the gelatin capsules. This is because various ingredients are applied during their production. Obviously, this is in contrast to gelatin capsules which use animal by-products, and are, thus, relatively cheap.
  • Their production requires specialized skills. This is because the process of manufacturing the capsules is always complicated.
  • Producing vegetarian capsules involves the use of specialized equipment, which is always expensive to acquire. This makes the cost to be relatively higher.

Types of Vegetable Caps in the Pharmaceutical Industry

There are various types of vegetable caps in the pharmaceutical industry, depending on what they are used for.

Normally, the production of vegetable caps usually depends on the customer’s specifications.

Below are some of the vegetarian caps in the pharma industry.

a) HPMC Capsules

Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose is mostly identified as hypromellose. The capsule is chemically produced from a polymer called cellulose.

This vegetarian capsule has always been a preferred option in the pharmaceutical industry from the 1990s because it is plant-derived cellulose.

The physical cellulose polymer is stable and resistant to humid conditions and even severe heat conditions.

The polymer is suitable for ingredients that are sensitive to moisture because it has a low content of moisture.

The main function of the Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose capsule is to offer protection to its content from being destroyed or changing.

HMPC Capsules

HMPC Capsules

It achieves this by acting as an insulator against harsh varying temperatures as well as exposure to moisture.

The capsule material stability is an essential factor in the development of the product.

In the pharmaceutical field, Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose is used as a material that sustains release tablets or as a coating film.

HPMC capsules are essential in the pharmaceutical products and supplementary diets to help cushion and to withstand harsh temperature excursion.

Moreover, they are also used to meet dietary needs.

The HPMC capsule has a gelling agent that gives enteric properties.

This will, in turn, help in the safeguarding of the ingredients that are sensitive to the stomach environment that is sometimes acidic.

It also helps protect these sensitive ingredients from comprehensive dissolution in the intestine.

The enteric property incorporated by the Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose capsules also offers enough taste masking in addition to acid resistance.

This will impede the reflux of gastric for fish oils.

It is thus a solution for most of the probiotic, mineral formulations, or even most of the herbals found in today’s markets.

HPMC capsules can also address poor bioavailability.

This happens when the capsules interact with the APIs that are poorly soluble, resulting in the GI tract with a lower rate of crystallization.

This is essential where APIs are supersaturated in the intestine.

It also helps when API basic is dosed on a high energy salt on a weekly basis.

Food additives in Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose Capsule

It is possible to add some of the excipients to the final formulation of the capsule.

More ingredients and some of the additives are involved in the HPMC capsule formulation as compared to gelatin capsules.

These substances added are used to control and manage the delivery of active ingredients that are always placed inside the capsule.

Some of the food additives that have been recognized in the Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose capsule are discussed below.

· Pullulan

This is water that is derived from fungi that have grown on a starch substrate which is always fermented naturally from tapioca.

· Gellan Gum

This is anionic polysaccharide which is soluble in water that is yielded by the bacterium sphingomonas eledeafor.

The bacterium is always used as a microbiological gelling agent to delay the capsule release.

b) Tapioca Capsules

Tapioca capsule is a type of vegetarian capsule is a pure based plant which is natural.

It acts as an alternative for the capsules that are made from the animal by-products and even sometimes from gelatin.

Tapioca capsules

 Tapioca Capsules

The capsule is sticky and clear when compared to other capsules.

Today in the health market, most of the consumers prefer to use natural products.

This is most common when deciding on nutritional supplements.

Most consumers will prefer green products with no added chemicals as compared to animal products.

Tapioca vegetable capsules, therefore, meet the rising demand as they act as an alternative because it is more natural.

The capsule is a starch-free vegetarian capsule that is sometimes fermented to pullulan.

It, therefore, provides a lot of great appeal to consumer’s healthy lifestyle of nutritional supplements.

The unique features they are associated with have a beneficial supplement to manufacturers and other marketers.

Today’s consumer’s healthy lifestyle is sensitive, and they investigate everything they ingest.

The consumers need the assurance that every ingredient is proven safe to their health.

Benefits of Tapioca Capsules

Most people like Tapioca capsules because of the benefits it provides to their health.

Some of the significant benefits obtained from the use of the Tapioca capsules are:

  • The capsule is a clean labeled product that offers dietary benefits to the vegetarian supplement users. It, therefore, provides a healthy lifestyle to those who use it.
  • The capsule is starch-free, preservative-free, and also gluten-free.
  • The Tapioca capsule meets the dietary requirements and cultural needs of many consumers. It also has the generally regarded as safe status (GRAS).
  • The capsules have as well been approved by the vegetarian society and have Halal and Kosher certification.
  • The Tapioca capsules also offer an efficient option for firms that are distributing the supplements with the organic ingredients.
  • The capsules’ elegant crystal transparency evokes a natural image.
  • The attractive appearance of the capsule material filled is maintained due to the high luster of the capsules.
  • Tapioca capsules have various branding choices in customized shine and color, which helps in increasing the market appeal.


Tapioca capsules

Tapioca Capsules

Performance features of Tapioca Capsules

  • The Tapioca capsule provides robust performance with a wide variety of ingredients because it is pure.
  • Ease of formulation is another crucial feature of the capsule.
  • Due to its stability, the capsule has a matching performance characteristic of gelatin.

Tapioca capsule has the approval of various regulatory agencies across the world. It has a proven safety record.

How Long do Veggie Caps Take to Dissolve?

The rate at which the veggie capsule dissolves is higher as compared to gelatin capsules.

This is because they have higher bioavailability in addition to a higher rate of absorption.

Bioavailability can be described as the scope or extent and rate at which the substance or drug is absorbed to become active.

This means that the nutrients have to dissolve into the liquid from their natural state.

Because the veggie capsules are already in a liquid form, they therefore readily dissolve and are absorbed into the body faster as compared to gelatin capsules.

Veggie capsules take around 20 to 30 minutes to dissolve in the stomach.

This means that after a half an hour, the capsule has finished dissolving, and absorption into the bloodstream has commenced.

Sometimes the time taken by the veggie capsule can depend on how the manufacturer designs the capsule.

Because various consumers are distinctive, this can also make the time taken for the veggie capsules to vary.

Thus, there are factors that affect the rate at which the veggies dissolve.

Because of these factors, it is always difficult to estimate the exact time the capsules will finish to dissolve.

Some of the significant factors that affect the dissolving rate of the veggie capsule are:

1. Stomach PH

The dissolving rate of veggie capsules largely depends on the PH conditions of the gastrointestinal tract.

Some caps are designed to dissolve faster in alkaline conditions while others dissolve faster in acidic conditions.

Basic capsules will dissolve faster in alkaline conditions while acidic capsules will dissolve more quickly in the acidic conditions of the stomach.

2. Humidity

Humidity is the amount of water vapor available in the air.

The rate of dissolving will, therefore, increase with the increase in the moisture or humid environment of the stomach.

This is humidity can also mean the availability of water moisture.

It increases the rate of compatibility with the veggie capsule, thus dissolving at a faster rate in the stomach.

3. Capsule Content

The rate at which the veggie capsule dissolves depends on capsule particles.

Because the dissolving process is a surface phenomenon, it depends on the liquid molecules that collide with the outer surface of the capsule.

Two piece capsule

Two-Piece Capsule – Photo Courtesy: Pharmaceutical Online

A given quantity of the capsule content will dissolve faster when its particles are smaller than when they are larger.

This is because of the exposed surface area.

Therefore, a veggie capsule that exposes more of its surface area will have a higher rate of dissolving.

4. Capsule Coating

Capsules are coated using various materials depending on the manufacturer.

The rate of dissolving of the capsule highly depends on the type of material used to coat up it.

The size of the material used to coat the capsule is another factor that influences the rate of dissolving.

When a thick material is used, the rate of dissolving will be reduced as compared to when a thinner material is used.

5. Packing of the capsules

The materials used to pack the capsules also have a significant influence on the dissolving rate of the capsules.

When you use hygroscopic materials, the rate of dissolving will higher.

Also, the size of the packing materials also influences the dissolving rate.

Using a thicker material will reduce the rate of dissolving as compared to when you use a thinner material.

Difference between Vegetarian Capsules and Gelatin Capsules

As I have already highlighted, vegetarian capsules are the preference of many people over gelatin capsules.

It is now crucial that we look at the differences between the two, some of which greatly influence this preference.

Some of the main differences are:


  • Vegetarian capsules are made mainly from vegetable by-products while gelatin capsules are made from animal by-products.
  • The vegetarian capsules are less dependent on the moisture content for the purposes of integrity. This makes them resistant to breakage even in harsh dry conditions.

The moisture content of the capsule is about 2 to 6 percent; thus, it is lowly hygroscopic.

Besides, this property makes it more stable, making it rarely affected by harsh humid conditions.

This is in contrast to the gelatin capsules, which are less stable due to a higher percentage of moisture.

It also makes them more sensitive to humidity.

  • The vegetarian capsules are not susceptible to related problems and cross-linking. On the other hand, the gelatin capsule is highly vulnerable to issues concerning cross-linking, which results in a low solubility.
  • Vegetarian capsules are not sensitive to light as compared to gelatin capsules, which are highly sensitive to light. Exposing the latter to light can destroy the capsules.
  • Vegetarian products can be used as fill materials. The gelatin capsules, on the other hand, are suitable for powdered and dry products. Also, this is because the gelatin capsules are not compatible gels and oils in most of the cases.
  • The vegetarian capsules are efficient in the preparation of hygroscopic products, whereas gelatin capsules are not suitable.
  • At room temperature, Vegetarian capsules can readily dissolve in water. This is in contrast to gelatin capsules whose dissolution reduces when there is a drop in temperature below 37 degrees Celsius. Remember, the dissolution for gelatin capsules can sometimes fail if the temperature is below 30 degrees Celsius.
  • Because the vegetarian capsule has a loose structure, it is extremely permeable to oxidation. Gelatin capsules, on the other hand, have less oxygen permeability and thus low oxidation.

From the above differences, vegetarian capsules emerge as better and more suitable capsules.

This is especially in terms of stability, bioavailability and absorption rates.

Vegetable Capsules sizes

Vegetable capsules exist in various sizes depending on the density of the shell.

The density of the shell also determines the weight of the capsule itself.

A capsule with a lot of weight will always tend to have a shell with a higher density.

The size of the vegetable capsule also depends on the fitness of the product inside.

Some of the various sizes of the vegetarian capsule include:

  • “000”à can hold about 1000mg of the product inside its shell.
  • “00” àcan hold about 735mg of the products.
  • “0” à can hold up to 500mg of the capsule in its shell.

The sizes of the vegetarian capsules decrease in that order.

It means that that which holds approximately 400mg of the capsules will be bigger than which contains about 200mg of the capsule.

Capsules sizes

Capsules Sizes

The sizes of vegetarian capsules are smaller in such a way one teaspoon will fill about seven “0” and approximately five”00” capsules.

Empty Vegetable Caps Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing procedure for the empty vegetable caps is somehow the same with other capsules.

The difference in the manufacturing process comes in the materials used.

The production of the vegetarian capsule uses plant by-product called cellulose.

The process follows a strict chronological procedure to reduce the chances of some being destroyed.

The success of the process requires the use of the appropriate equipment.

Empty capsules

Empty Capsules

The procedure is as follows.

Step 1: Preparation of the Shell Material

This stage involves combining the hydroxypropyl methylcellulose with water and other ingredients like coloring, glycerine, and plasticizers.

The mixed content of the solution is then warmed up at a higher temperature for a couple of time.

Step 2: Capsule Molding

To enhance the uniformity of the empty vegetarian capsule, the capsules then move to a section where molding happens in the manufacturing machine.

The upper deck of the machine, in this case, has a stainless steel pin where the body and the cap are then placed.

Also, the vegetarian capsule on the pin bars then moves to the drying system.

Here, regulating the temperature, humidity and the amount of air dries the capsule.

Step 3: Removal of the Empty Vegetarian Capsules

The two halves of the capsule are stripped from the pin bars after the drying process is complete.

Again, the machine also trims the empty capsules which can later be joined together.

Furthermore, the shell of the capsule, moisture content, color, and even the size of the capsule is regulated throughout the process.

The empty vegetarian capsules are then sorted and printed out.

Vegetable Caps Quality Standards

All vegetable caps should meet certain quality standards set by various organizations or government regulatory agencies.

Empty vegetable capsules

Empty Vegetable Capsules

It is the only way of ensuring the capsules remain safe for human use.

As a vegetable caps manufacturer, all your practices should meet the following standards/regulation requirements:

Of course, these are a few agencies that ensure the safety of drugs and other equipment in the pharmaceutical industry.

Whenever you’re evaluating the quality of vegetable caps, you need to focus on the material or ingredients, alongside the manufacturing process.

Furthermore, the capsules should pass certain tests such as weight variation, disintegration, dissolution, and content uniformity tests, amongst others.

Storing Empty Vegetable Caps

Appropriate storage of the empty vegetable caps will help in preventing them from being destroyed.

Depending on the type of material used to make the shell of the capsule, the storage conditions may vary.

The following conditions should be considered during the storage of empty vegetarian caps.

  • Capsules should be stored in their original packaging
  • Capsules should not be exposed to harsh temperatures. They should also be stored away from direct sunlight.

Uses of Vegetable Capsules

Vegetable capsules have a wide range of applications, including:

  • In the pharmaceutical industry, vegetable caps are used as an oral dosage for the sick with dietary restrictions.
  • They can be used as suppositories for vaginal or rectal application because of their high dissolution property.
  • In the Nutracosmetics, the capsules are used for beauty supplements as delivery systems.
  • Vitamins, herbs, minerals, and fatty acids can also be supplied using the vegetable capsule in the nutraceutical industry. Thus the vegetable capsules are used to provide nutritional supplements.


Vegetable capsules are of immense importance in many industries, especially in the pharmaceutical sectors.

Being absorbable, bioavailable, and stable makes these caps to stand out as a better option than the other caps.

The robustness of the manufacturing procedure perfects the strength that the raw materials already highlight.

Having read this elaborate guide, you are now able to understand what informs the choice of caps in the market.

Welcome back for more educative and informative guides.

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