Gelatin vs Veggie Capsules?? Too much to learn.
Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Some days ago one of our customers was very worried about the components of our capsules and she wanted to know which ones were better, veggie capsules or gelatin ones.
That thought actually had never crossed my mind, so I got into the task of finding a real answer since we want you to feel confident that we are giving you the best healthy product we can.
Days later and lots of research hours, I discovered so many interesting facts about this topic. There are diverse points of views. But as there are more vegetarians and vegans consuming natural supplements there was the need to find an animal free capsule to satisfy their needs.
I found a very good article, where they clearly explained that “Veggie” capsules might not be as healthy as you think, even though you may think, "hell these are organic and come from plants, this is what I am now!"
Well, the sad news is that it may not be so.
First, the terms veggie capsule and vegetable capsule are used loosely to indicate the capsule is plant-based. A more realistic term is vegetarian capsule since most are not made from actual vegetables.
So, what are vegetarian capsules made from?
Most are made from hydroxypropyl methylcellulose - hypromellose or HPMC for short. It’s a semisynthetic polymer made by isolating useful compounds from natural sources. The process starts with wood pulp fiber that gets chemically treated with methyl chloride and propylene oxide.
Methyl chloride (chloromethane) was once widely used as a refrigerant, but due to concerns about toxicity, this extremely flammable gas is no longer used in consumer products. Methyl chloride can be made synthetically from petroleum or if can be generated from municipal and industrial waste incineration.
Propylene oxide, also derived from petroleum, is a highly flammable liquid that is used as a pesticide and fumigant. Exposure to propylene oxide causes irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.
The chemical slurry used to make HPMC doesn’t sound too good for humans or the environment. Even the Environmental Protection Agency identified the production of cellulose ethers such as HPMC as a source of hazardous air emissions.
Another material by which “veggie” capsules are made of is pullulan which is produced from starch made by the fungus Aureobasidium pullulan commonly encountered species in wet buildings. Aureobasidium pullulans is both a soil and leaf (phylloplane) fungus. In indoor environments, it is very common on wet wood and window frames, in floor, carpet, and mattress dust, damp walls, and in humidifier water. It is occasionally found on a wide range of stored foodstuffs and cereals (such as wheat, barley and oats). Sometimes it occurs on meat in cold stores as it can grow at very low temperatures.
If you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, gelatin capsules may be the way to go as Gelatin Capsules Come Out On Top for Purity.
If you have any dietary restrictions it’s worth it to find out what type of gelatin is used. The majority of empty, hard shell gelatin capsules are bovine (cattle) or porcine (pig) derived, but occasionally you can find capsules made from fish gelatin. Also certified Halal and Kosher gelatin capsules are widely available.
Gelatin comes from animal bones, skin or connective tissue. It’s often the same gelatin you would find in a variety of foods, such as Jell-O, gummy candies, and yogurt because gelatin alone is considered a food ingredient. Unlike HPMC.
What are the ingredients in gelatin capsules? Just gelatin and water - no chemicals needed.
But no worries, Gelatin capsules must meet strict health and safety requirements to rule out animal’s disease threats. TSE/BSE-free certified gelatin capsules are a standard in the supplement industry. So they are pretty safe to take.
There are also bonus health benefits from Gelatin Capsules! Thanks to the popularity of collagen these days, gelatin’s reputation is trending upwards. Collagen and gelatin have similar nutrient profiles but they differ in chemical properties. Both, however, are linked to beauty and rejuvenation.
Gelatin is packed with amino acids that help to build cartilage and connective tissues, which promotes joint flexibility. It’s also great for reducing the signs of aging skin. All we can’t say the same for HPMC capsules.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, there are now very few vegetarian capsules that really are suitable for you, like tapioca capsules.
Pay attention to what type of capsules you're buying and make the better choice.