Types of Delivery / Encapsulation For Supplements

examples of supplements and encapsulation forms

Different Types of Supplement Forms: What You Should Know Before Choosing

HAYWARD, Wisc. Jul. 31, 2019 – Beehive Botanicals, Inc. (beehivebotanicals.net)

Consumers of health and dietary supplements have a daunting task ahead of them if you consider the multitude of choices of brands, labels and supplement encapsulation / delivery. Navigating through all of the information, advertising and variations can be overwhelming and even costly.

Even after you decide on the supplement you need and possibly even a particular brand, there are still other matters to consider, such as, what supplement form, or encapsulation, is right for you?

Encapsulation is an industry term to describe the delivery of dietary supplements into capsule or tablet form. Of course other methods besides encapsulation may be more appropriate depending on the type of dietary supplement and the needs of the consumer. The dietary supplement industry has changed dramatically over the years. Thick, chalky tablets are no longer the norm for the dietary supplement industry. Supplement companies have expanded their offerings to include capsules, tablets, caplets, softgels and gelcaps, time-released capsules, powders, liquids, sublingual applications, chewable tablets and even gummies.

How then are you supposed to choose? Making the choice that is right for you is probably not as clear or as obvious as you would think. Most people prefer tablets or capsules for their convenience. But there is a sizable chunk of the population that has difficulty swallowing pills, especially children and seniors. Let’s take a look at some of the various attributes to consider when deciding which form of dietary supplement delivery is best for you.

Absorption and nutrient delivery: Powders and liquid are more quickly absorbed into the body whereas tablets, capsules and gummies are designed to work their way through your digestive system before they start getting absorbed.

Concentration: Tablets and capsules are purposely made small so that people do not choke on them when they swallow them. However, it is not reasonably possible to fit the beneficial amount of certain supplements, such as whey protein, into a capsule. However, most supplements and vitamins have an effective dose that fits into capsules, tablets or gummies.

Taste: As we get older we experience changes in taste, smell and appetite. In addition, our tastes can also change as a result of illness and /or medication. There are links between the importance of taste and compliance in taking oral supplements. Which delivery method or encapsulation of a supplement that a consumer may choose may just be dependent on how it tastes.

Time-release: Capsule shells can be created to slowly dissolve before the contents are fully released and absorbed.

Capsule shell ingredients:

Vegetable-based is derived from vegetable cellulose. 100% natural, these capsules contain no preservatives, gelatin, wheat, gluten, animal by-products or starch. Usually takes between 25–50 minutes to dissolved in the stomach.

Gelatin-based is the original and most common material used to produce capsules. Gelatin is typically made from a cow or pig source, but it can also be fish-based or vegetable-based. Gelatin capsules are only suitable for use with powdered medications or supplements. They are not suited to be used with any liquid or gel formulations because gelatin will quickly break down, forming holes in the capsule causing the liquid to leak through. Usually dissolves in about 10–20 minutes. Faster if the stomach contents are warm and wet, slower if the contents are cold and/or not wet

Pullulan-based capsules are widely used in the food and drink industry as they provide an excellent oxygen barrier. They are stronger and more durable than gelatin capsules. Pullulan is a natural, edible polymer that has no detectable taste. It is sourced from fungi which have been grown on a starch substrate. Pullulan is also used in cosmetics, lotions, and shampoos. Pullulan-based capsules are starch-free, gluten-free, preservative-free and non-GMO and are also Vegan, Kosher and Halal certified, and contain no corn, wheat, gelatin, or animal by-products.

Shelf stability: Most nutrients are affected by temperature, moisture, age and exposure to direct sun. So the delivery method chosen will also affect shelf stability.

Transportable: Supplement encapsulation forms, other than powders and liquids, are much easier to transport with you to wherever you need them since they are contained within a pill, capsule, gummy or even a snack bar. Besides, having to lug a large amount of powdered or liquid supplements around, it may be hard to explain what it is exactly unless you are carrying it in its original container.

Cost: There are so many variations that affect costs. From manufacturing, to distributing, ingredients, blends, encapsulation methods etc.

Here are a few more factors to consider when deciding on which form of encapsulation or delivery method you will choose for the manufacturing of your supplement.


As stated earlier, tablets used to be the industry standard offered to supplement consumers and are still widely used. Tablets have been a favorite because they allow the most nutrients to be compacted into a given space. However, in addition to the active ingredients, tablets also include a large number of inactive substances that serve as the vehicle or medium to form a supplement called excipients. (Coloring agents, preservatives and fillers are examples of excipients.) These are added to tablets to allow them to compress and then disintegrate when ingested.

Tablets are typically lower in cost, can be customized in size, shape and appearance, and there is more control of dissolution for quick, delayed or extended release of nutrients. Tablets are the preferred delivery for products with large amounts per serving. Although there are typically more excipients in tablets than in capsules, which can lead to discomfort during digestion in the stomach. Typical inactive ingredients or excipients in tablets include xanthan gum and microcrystalline cellulose. Scored tablets can also make it possible for more accurate dose splitting which is helpful especially when scaling doses up or down. (Especially in cases in which lower or higher doses are not available in a whole tablet.)


Capsule supplements are usually very familiar to most consumers. Capsules are typically made with two outer ‘shells’ made from either gelatin or starch and fit together to hold dry ingredients and can be good oxygen barriers. The way the two outer shells of capsules are suited together prevents oil-based ingredients and liquids from going into a capsule.

Gelatin capsules are typically made from bovine or porcine skin and bones but have now been diversified to include chicken, fish, and even vegetable forms.

Capsules are very popular because they are convenient and can be quickly taken. They are usually odorless, tasteless and can be easier to swallow than tablets. They also typically cause less gastrointestinal irritation because they usually break down within 20 minutes inside the stomach. Many herbal dietary supplements are naturally bitter so taking them in capsule or tablet form helps to avoid a bad taste.

Making sure you are taking a specific amount of a nutrient with a capsule is sometimes difficult because there is limited weight based on capsule volumes and there can be slight variations in fill volume. Both of these factors may determine whether a capsule will work for your particular dietary supplement. The capsule shell may also interact with other ingredients depending on what it is made from.


Softgels, also called gelcaps, are typically used for oil or liquid-based supplements. Most people find them easier to swallow than capsules or tablets because gel caps has a soft layer of gelatin on the outside of the active ingredient(s). The gelatin is typically from cow or pig skin and bones, but it can also be fish-based or vegetable-based making them viable for strict vegetarians, or those who need gluten-free and even kosher. Softgels must also be carefully stored and transported in cool or room temperatures since they are sensitive to heat.

Gel caps often contain fewer inactive excipients than tablets or capsules. They are also completely sealed, more stable, and can have a much longer shelf life than both liquid and capsule supplements depending on the contents. Liquid-filled gel capsules are generally considered to be faster-acting and often more powerful than tablet pills. The contents may also be more completely absorbed than those of tablet pills


People that have trouble swallowing pills and capsules or have conditions affecting their ability to digest foods may chose powdered supplements that are mixed with liquids such as water, juice, coconut water or even almond milk. This is also a good choice for soluble nutrients like protein or collagen, which have little taste, and can be easily mixed into a smoothie or other liquids.

Some people stay away from powder supplements because of taste and clumping when mixed with liquids. Blenders and shaker bottles are recommended for blending powdered supplements to help prevent ingredient clumping. Some nutrients taken in high amounts, such as vitamin C, is more quickly absorbed in powder form dissolved in liquid.

Gummies and chewable tablets

Gummies and chewable multivitamins are among the least effective ways to consume essential vitamins and minerals. They were originally designed to make taking vitamins more pleasant for kids. Although gummy supplements are now also widely developed for adults.

There are two main types of gummies; those made with gelatin and those made with fruit pectin. Flavor typically comes at the expense of the nutrients. Most gummies contain added sugars and artificial flavoring for taste since raw vitamin ingredients usually have a bitter taste and even a bad odor.

Most minerals can be taken as a liquid, powder, or a chewable pill just keep in mind what you may be sacrificing for better taste.


Liquid supplements are on the rise, especially since they are a great choice for those who have trouble swallowing pills or chewing. Liquid vitamins and supplements are also a better choice than capsules when it comes to ingesting the nutrients from fats and oils.

Supplement in the form of smoothies, shakes and even shots are being developed with new flavor combinations. Consumers are able to add vitamin enhancers to increase the amount of nutrients they are receiving in one serving or dose. In response to the consumer demand for liquid, single-dose formats, countertop dispensaries (similar to a Keurig coffee machine) with custom liquid supplement drinks provides a mechanism that put vitamins and minerals requested in a beverage flavor of choice or smoothie.

Convenience is what the consumer may be asking for but keep in mind, the shelf life of liquid supplements is usually significantly shorter than of other supplement forms.

Go with a Company Like Beehive Botanicals Manufacturing with Decades of Formulation and Encapsulation Experience

At the end of the day, supplement brands are having to acknowledge the fact that consumers are demanding innovation and better delivery of the supplements and botanicals; non-GMO, certified-organic, dairy-free, and gluten-free, Vegan, and Kosher certified. Today, supplements don’t need to be taken in just one form of capsule or tablet.

Because of these changing trends, it is critical that a supplement or botanical retailer pick a contract manufacturer that has a solid reputation and extensive experience in formulations, encapsulation and capsule / tablet manufacturing. The encapsulation and manufacturing services offered by Beehive Botanicals are GMP certified, assuring that the highest quality encapsulation / delivery of your supplement or botanical are met every time regardless of the customers specifications.

Beehive Botanicals custom capsule manufacturing services offer production technology including blenders, automatic and semi-automatic capsule filling equipment, automatic bottling and labeling lines. Raw materials as well as finished products undergo quality control including identity, purity, strength & composition.

No matter what type of dietary supplement a consumer chooses, it usually comes down to the form of the delivery method, personal taste and finding a supplement form that they will want to take consistently. All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when formulating your product and when trying to identify the contract manufacturer that you want to partner with.

For more information about Beehive Botanicals Manufacturing please visit our website at www.beehivebotanicals.net or give us a direct call at 800-233-4483.