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What are Softgel Capsules Made Of?

What goes through your mind when you are taking a Softgel capsule?

You might be having some serious thoughts about the composition of the Softgel capsule.

Well, all your worries will be a thing of the past.

Why?

In this guide, you will learn about everything you need to know about the composition of Softgel capsules.

Soft gel capsules

Soft gelatin capsules

Let us begin with the basics.

What is a Softgel capsule?

Softgel is a form of oral dosage medicine that has a close resemblance to a capsule.

Encapsulation, on the other hand, refers to a wide range of dosage techniques and forms for enclosing medicine.

The process involves closing the medicine in a shell we can identify as a capsule.

Have a look at how the encapsulation process takes place.

Implying that a Softgel capsule is a dosage of medicine in a capsule enclosure.

Did you know that there are two main types of capsules?

Well, you should know that there are two main types of capsules.

These are the hard shelled capsules and soft shelled capsules.

Hard shelled capsules contain dry and powdery ingredients or small pellets.

The small pellets are as a result of spheronization or extrusion processes.

Soft gelatin capsules

Soft gelatin capsules

The spheronization and extrusion processes are in two halves consisting of a small and a large diameter body.

The larger diameter cup usually fills the smaller diameter cap with the powdery dry components.

Soft shelled capsules, on the other hand, are good for oils.

Apart from oils, you can also find active ingredients forming a suspension or solution with oil.

Despite the level of hardness, both types of capsules come from aqueous solutions of gelling agents.

It may include aqueous solutions such as animal protein such as gelatin.

Apart from that, it may also include polysaccharides and their derivatives such as carrageenan and starch or cellulose modifications.

Besides that, there are other ingredients that you can add to the solution of the gelling agent.

These ingredients include:

i. Plasticizers such as sorbitol and glycerin which decreases the hardness of the capsules.

ii. Coloring agents

iii. Preservatives

iv. Disintegrants

v. Lubricants

vi. Surface treatment

Soft gelatin capsules formulation

Soft gelatin capsules formulation

Since its inception, the Softgel capsules have been the most efficient mode of consuming medication.

Due to this norm, pharmaceuticals have come up with special ways of making tablets which they refer to as caplets.

It is a friendlier way of consuming tablets as they are easy to swallow and are appealing to the eye.

That aside, lets us have an in-depth look at the ingredients that make up a Softgel capsule.

· Gelatin in Softgel Capsules

Most of the Softgel capsules consist of gelatin as the main ingredient.

Gelatin is a substance that comes from collagen.

Collagen is a product of animal bones and skin.

It is the ingredient of choice because it is a food additive that many people use.

You can easily find it in use in puddings, Jell-O, marshmallows, deserts, and other types of food products.

Gelatin

 Gelatin

It also dissolves very fast in the stomach and releases all the contents of the Softgel capsule to the body.

However, gelatin is not a friendly ingredient for vegetarians.

In case you are following a strict halal or kosher diet, it is not the right capsule for you.

The alternative to gelatin is Pullulan or Hypromellose

· Pullulan or Hypromellose

These are the main alternatives to gelatin because they come from non-animal sources.

Pullulan is a polysaccharide that can dissolve in water.

It is an ingredient that many vegans accept since its inception 25 years ago.

Hypromellose, on the other hand, comes from raw cellulose and is acceptable all over the world.

The gel capsules from these materials do not have any animal products.

It is, therefore, safe for the vegans and the people who follow strict diets.

· Potato Starch Matrix

It is a smooth and transparent substance that resembles gelatin which is neutral in color and taste.

It originates from plants and the stomach can easily digest.

Teenage girl taking a pill at her home

 Swallowing soft gelatin capsules

· Other Ingredients

You can also use gelatin or the vegan substitute (pullulan or hypromellose) to form another type of Softgel capsule ingredient.

It involves grinding gelatin, pullulan or hypromellose into powder form.

You will then mix the powder with glycerin and water. The result is a liquid that you can mold to form a capsule.

You can also decide to add flavor to help the consumer with the bad taste of the medication.

At this point, you can describe Softgel capsule as: A product that consists of thick layers of gelatin and plasticizers to improve flexibility without degradation.

The Softgel capsule also has active ingredients which you will read on the bottle of the medication.

It can either be a vitamin, starch or carbohydrate among others.

You will pump the active ingredient into the capsule after stabilizing the gelatin coat.

· Color for Softgel Capsules

You may need to add color to the Softgel capsule to improve its effectiveness.

How?

While this may seem to be a little bit far-fetched, you can be sure that color improves the attractiveness.

Different colors of soft gel capsules

Different colors of Softgel capsules

Apart from that, opaque colors often protect the content of the Softgel capsules from UV radiation and incident light.

It will improve ingredient stability and decrease free radical formation.

You will benefit from the effect of color as the medication will remain active for a longer period.

The opaque color will also keep the oils in the Softgel capsule from becoming rancid.

In case you want to make the Softgel capsule opaque, you need to add opacifiers.

· Plasticizers in Softgel Capsules

Sorbitol special and glycerin are the two main types of plasticizers available for use.

You can use glycerin for the fill that has oils.

Sorbitol, on the other hand, is good for PEG fills.

Since sorbitol does not dissolve in PEG, you are sure that it will not leach out into the PEG, unlike glycerin.

Sorbitol special will prevent sorbitol from crystalizing in gelatin shells.

Remember that you cannot substitute sorbitol with sorbitol special.

· Solvent in Softgel Capsules

The most common solvent in use is water.

It is a universal solvent and can, therefore, fit many applications.

· Inner fill Materials

You are likely to find three main types of the inner fill materials in a Softgel capsule.

These include:

i. Neat substances which are oily liquids

ii. Solution fills such as active in a carrier solution, soybean oils, Polyethylene glycols and Myglyol 812.

iii. Suspension fills that actively disperse in a carrier.

In a nutshell, this is answers this common question (what are Softgel capsules made of).

Conclusion

Well, I bet you are now aware of the components you consume in a Softgel capsule.

Do not have any doubts as all the components are harmless.

And in case you have any questions about Softgel capsules, our team is always ready to help – contact us now.

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