What is the Difference between Vegetarian Capsules and Gelatin Capsules

The main material we use to manufacture capsule casing is normally gelatin or cellulose. This can be acquired from either plant which we call vegetarian or gelatin from animals.

For us to have a better understanding of the difference between the two, we have to define them individually. Let us dive straight into it.


Empty Capsules Production


HPMC Capsule

These types of capsules are made using a fibrous plant by-product called cellulose. The composition of this cellulose is majorly hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose (HPMC).

Our bodies can easily digest and absorb such capsules. We majorly prefer them for use in gel formulations or any powdered drugs or supplements.

Vegetarian Capsules
Vegetarian Capsules

Gelatin Capsules

We acquire this cellulose by processing collagen that we get from bones or connective tissues in animals. The said collagen contains various types of amino acids present in the animals’ connective tissues and bones.

We can now check out the difference between these two by comparing their physical traits and performance.

Gelatin Capsules
Gelatin Capsules



Vegetarian Capsule

This capsule is mainly composed of a medicinal component we call hydroxypropyl (HPMC). It is common knowledge that the most abundant natural polymer we can find naturally is cellulose.

The HPMC in the vegetarian capsule exists in the form of a 2-hydroxypropyl methylcellulose.


Gelatin Capsule

The major components of this capsule are the gelatin together with a shading agent and some plasticizer. The gelatin found in this capsule is usually a very high-quality form of medical gelatin.

This capsule is usually very rich in protein that comes from the collagen hydrolyzed from animal tissues and bones.

Gelatin Capsules Ingredients
Gelatin Capsules Ingredients



Vegetarian Capsule

The HPMC found in this capsule is considered very stable when we compare it to the gelatin in a gelatin capsule. Because it has very low levels of moisture content, it can easily retain its structural integrity.

Additionally, it has a high resistance to humidity since the moisture content of its plant cellulose polymer ranges between 3% and 7%. You can comfortably place your oil, liquid, or any gel formulations inside this capsule since it is very rigid.

But not just that, you may as well place any powdery ingredients inside them. This is because their casing is always stable even when exposed to dry conditions.


Gelatin Capsule

These capsules tend to absorb a lot of moisture from their surrounding. They have a very high moisture content of around 13% to 17% and decompose rapidly when exposed to any wet condition.

In order for them to efficiently contain any liquid or gel-like substance, they usually have extra straps as reinforcements. It can easily react with some preservatives and reducing sugars since it is a natural protein that can hydrolyzed easily.



Content Tolerance


Vegetarian Capsule

Vegetarian capsules have the ability to withstand many types of chemicals in whatever state they are in. This is the reason we prefer them when using various substances in either gel or semi-solid forms.

However, we cannot use them in formulations that are purely liquid in nature. This trait also applies to the gelatin capsules.


Gelatin Capsule

As we have mentioned, we cannot use any liquid or semi-solid formulations in these capsules. However, an exception can be made when you use soft gelatin capsules which can handle such formulations.

Producing these soft gelatin capsules is usually done under very special conditions. The manufacturing temperatures are very strict in addition to the humidity levels and the general manufacturing environment.




Vegetarian Capsule

Very many tests have been carried out on this capsule to test its brittleness when exposed to low-humid conditions. In as much as it’s hardly brittle, it was exceptionally stable even under high temperatures in humid conditions.

When put under storage, any extreme conditions do not impact the plant fiber indexes on the capsule. The major factors impacting the dissolution of the capsule shell are the dissolution medium contents and the pH surrounding it.

However, the dissolution time is relatively longer compared to the gelatin capsule. Basically, vegetarian capsules are easily soluble in water.


Gelatin Capsule

One of the most crucial factors you need to consider is the storage temperature. There is a great decrease in gelatin solubility when stored at temperatures below 37°C.

However, when you store it at temperatures that are below 30°C, this capsule will not disintegrate. It will absorb a lot of water and experience an expansion though.



Rate Of Absorption And Digestion


Vegetarian Capsule

It is very crucial that our bodies the HMPC capsules that we ingest. As for this type of capsule, it normally tends to fasten the absorption rate of the product within it.

An increased absorption rate means your body is able to get all the nutrients contained in the capsule. Since their metabolic inertia is very high, it is not advisable to take them together with any drugs containing aldehyde.

In short, this capsule has a very rapid disintegration time with very fast absorption once ingested. It is also highly soluble.

Gelatin Capsule

This capsule can easily be ingested with other drugs containing aldehydes or amino acids. This is because it is made of collagen that can safely and easily cross-link with such drugs.

However, the end result is the capsule takes longer to either disintegrate or even dissolve once ingested. This means that if you have a weak digestive system, any contents inside these capsules will be slowly digested.



When we check the popularity of the two capsules, they are equally popular with different personal preferences. Choosing either of the two entirely depends on your individual needs.

Their purpose is basically the same with one able to interchange the formulations you want. The difference occurs in your body’s reaction when using either.

Update cookies preferences