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Gelatin vs. Vegetarian Capsules – What’s the Difference?

Posted by Derek Teschner on

Gelatin vs. Vegetarian Capsules – What’s the Difference?

Supplements are a common part of peoples lives. A lot of people looking for empty capsules want to make their own supplements. By making your own supplements using gelatin or vegetarian capsules you get to control the whole process. You can create your own custom formulas, hide bad tasting medications or herbs and save money whole you’re at it.

The Two Types of Capsules

At this point there are two different kinds of capsules, gelatin based capsules and vegetarian based capsules. Capsules can either be soft gels or hard, but when filling your own you want to look for hard capsules. The capsules will snap closed shut to ensure it keeps the substance in the capsule without spilling out.  

Here are some of the great benefits that capsules carry:

  • Quick dissolving, meaning your medicine gets into your system faster
  • Often tasteless
  • Easy to swallow when compared to tablets
  • No extra added ingredients to hold the pill together
  • Choice of Gelatin Capsules or Vegetarian Capsules 

Gelatin Capsules

Despite the fact that both types of capsules look the same, there are some drastic differences between the two. The most notable difference is what they are each made of.

Gelatin, which is commonly used as the base in jellies, comes from bovine (cattle) or pigs. At Herb Affair, we strictly use bovine as the source of our gelatin capsules.

Gelatin is made through a process that involves boiling down certain parts of the cattle. The hoofs, bones, and connective tissue is boiled down until it is a gel like substance, and then allowed to cool and expand in cool water. When the process is finished all that is left is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless substance that can be formed into the gel capsules that are taken every day by consumers.

There are a few main advantages of taking gel caps. Gelatin does have a wide range of health benefits. Most notably are the improvements in skin and joint health. They are also generally less expensive than their vegetarian counterparts.

Shop Our Line Gelatin Capsules

Vegetarian Capsules

The alternate to these kinds of capsules are vegetarian capsules. These types of capsules are used by forming vegetable cellulose. The vegetable cellulose used is Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose or HPMC for short. Our HPMC comes from the bark of the pine and spruce trees. The trees are sourced from Southwestern United States as well as in the Mediterranean Region. 

It is a great way for people who would like a vegetarian alternative to gelatin capsules. Veg capsules will still provide a quality hard shelled capsule that is tasteless and odorless.

Vegetarian capsules are perfect for people who cannot consume gelatin for any religious, cultural or dietary reasons.

Shop Vegetarian Capsules

Similarities Between Capsules

Despite their overwhelming differences in how they are made, they do have some similarities.

First of all they can be stored for many years without the risk of bacterial growth when compared to traditional tablets. The ability to store medication without the fear of sickness is a great advantage for both gelatin, and vegetarian capsule users, regardless of preference.

We always suggest, if possible, to store your capsules away from any sunlight or heat source. The pantry or a cabinet is a perfect place. We would not suggest to store them in your refrigerator as that may dry them out and they could become brittle.

Both vegetarian and gelatin capsules are tasteless and odorless. They are perfect for powdered supplements as well as some oils. You can even hide your pets medications in a capsule.

They dissolve within 15 minutes after being consumed and dissolve in the stomach.

There you have it. The main two types of hard capsules and their similarities and difference. The choice on which comes down to personal preference.

Ready to start filling your own capsules, and taking control of what goes in your body?

Shop Our Full Line Of Capsules and Supplies Here


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9 comments


  • In attempting to research something about the content of vegetable capsules I came on your site.
    Are there any negative side effects from using vegetable-based capsules made from softwood tree cellulose?
    My capsules contained turmeric & ginger.

    I have been using some. Recently, I had a very full uncomfortable feeling, in my stomach. I did not feel ill – just no appetite because I felt like my stomach was excessively full.

    When my daughter discovered the capsules came from softwood trees, we wondered if those capsules could be a side effect?

    I would appreciate your evaluation.

    Thank you,
    Fran Greenlee

    Frances Greenlee on

  • Thanks! I was needing to know which of the two dissolve the fastest. Are they both the same or does one dissolve noticeably faster?

    Tyler-Blake Kimbrell on

  • I use gelatin all the time and right now our. Heat is 98-108°. No issue but I keep minein the in a glass jar in a dark cupboard.

    Stella on

  • i am taking a capsule gastro resistent lansoprazole and it helps me , but i just read the capsule is gelatine , could you advise me if i took it out of the capsule and took it in a spoon of honey could it be unhealthy.
    thank you
    yakov

    yakov cuts on

  • Are both types of capsules safe for dogs to consume When taking their medicine? Thanks

    Suanne Redden on


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