What is Vegetarian Capsules: Understanding Ingredients and Benefits

Vegetarian capsules keep gaining a lot of fame worldwide. This is because of their uniqueness and benefits.

If you have been considering these capsules, this article is for you. We will be delving into the benefits of veggie capsules, the ingredients used in making them, their sizes and types, and more.

What are Vegetarian Capsules?


These capsules are also known as veggie capsules or non-gelatin capsules.

Therefore, veggie capsule shells are made of cellulose, which is used in encapsulating powders or other products. Vegetarian capsules are high-quality, firmly-shelled capsules without smell or taste.

Vegetarian Capsules
Vegetarian Capsules

Benefits of Veggie Capsules

Below are some of the benefits veggie capsules bring:

· Vegan-friendly as well as Plant-based

Vegetarian capsules are completely manufactured from materials that are plant-based. These include pullulan or cellulose, which are obtained from sources such as fermented tapioca or wood pulp. Due to this, this capsule is right for the vegan lifestyle.

· No by-products from Animals

They are safe and do not come with animal by-products. So, if you do not want to go into capsules with animal by-products, these capsules come with this benefit.

· No Taste or Smell

Vegan capsules mostly come with a neutral smell and taste. So, you do not get to experience any unwanted smells or flavors when you swallow them.

· Dosages are Customizable

This benefit helps meet your need for specific dosage intake and requirements to be met.

  • Dissolves with ease

Veg capsules break down and digest quickly when ingested by the body. Better absorption is promoted due to this, and this makes it possible for active ingredients to be shared with all parts of your body.

· Versatile and Suitable for Various uses

Can be used alongside moisture-sensitive products, liquid formulation products, and also hygroscopic products.

· Free from Allergens

Vegetarian capsules are mostly hypoallergenic. They do not contain the common allergens that other animal-based caps have. So, it is safe for you if you have food allergies or sensitivity issues.

· Shelf Life is Long

Veg capsules are safe and offer great protection from substances put in them. These caps resist moisture, light, and heat. This helps keep the contents in them effective and potent for a long time.

  • Easy to swallow.
  • It comes in unique colors and sizes.
  • Most cultures and religions worldwide accept their use.
  • They can be used in countless applications.
  • They are completely natural and have no toxicity in them.
  • It helps boost your immune system.
  • Your digestion can be improved with the intake of these capsules.

Ingredients in Veg Caps

Veg capsules are made of all-natural ingredients. These all-natural ingredients do not have any gelling agents added to them. The ingredients used include:

  • Water

Water is famous as the healthiest liquid on earth.

  • Hypromellose, HPMC, or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose

The ingredient hypromellose (HPMC) is derived from the bark of pine or spruce trees. So, they are totally the same.

Vegetable Capsules Sizes

Empty vegetable capsules come in many sizes depending on specific uses.


  1. Size 00EL
  2. Size 00
  3. Size 0EL
  4. Size 0
  5. Size 1EL
  6. Size 1
  7. Size 2EL
  8. Size 2
  9. Size 3
  10. Size 4

With the sizes above, you need to note down the following:

  • 000 can fill up to 1000mg of products within its shell. Also, it is the largest size in the list of sizes.
  • 00 can hold up to 735mg of products.
  • 0 can take up to 500mg.

So, 00EL represents the biggest capsule size, with 4 being the smallest size.

Types of Vegan Capsules

HPMC Capsules

HPMC caps are made from hypromellose or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose. This is the most popular type of vegetarian capsule. HPMC is obtained from cellulose that is got from spruce and pine tree bark. This capsule type is known to be safe. Some advantages of these capsules include:

  • HPMC capsules are very stable and versatile.
  • They are ideal for different formulations, such as moisture-sensitive materials, solids, oils, liquids, and semisolids.
  • HPMC caps have no taste or smell.
  • Made to have a smooth texture. This makes them very palatable.
  • Within 30 minutes, they dissolve when taken into the body. So the contents in them begin to work without delay.
  • Empty HPMC caps come in 8 different size categories. This is from 000, which is the largest, to 4, which is the smallest.
  • You can have these capsules customized with a brand logo or color.
HPMC Capsules
HPMC Capsules

You can find a variety of this capsule type that is translucent and clear. Some of the famous translutranslucent types include saffron yellow caps, green chlorophyll caps, blue spirulina caps, etc.

Pullulan Capsules

Pullulan caps are water-soluble, edible, and biodegradable polymers that are classified as GRAS raw materials by the FDA. When liquid cornstarch is fermented by fungi, this polymer is brought to being.

Some advantages of this type of vegetarian capsule include:

  • Pullulan caps possess intrinsic antimicrobial properties. These properties increase its protective ability even in the production of capsules.
  • It is difficult for air to go through or enter pullulan capsules. This makes them highly safe for fills that are air-sensitive.
  • They can be filled with dry ingredients such as tablets, powders, beads, granules, and herbs.
  • You can find pullulan capsules mainly in sizes 0 and 00.
  • Free of all preservatives and allergens.
Pullulan capsules
Pullulan Capsules

Pullulan capsules are not ideal for liquid ingredients and absorbent powders.

Tapioca Capsules

Tapioca capsules are natural and pure-based plant veggie capsules. It serves as an option to capsules derived from animal by-products and, in some cases, gelatin.

Tapioca Capsule
Tapioca Capsule

Advantages of tapioca capsules:

  • Dietary benefits

Tapioca capsules come with a clear label and provide vegetarian supplement users with unique dietary benefits. This means you are assured of a healthier lifestyle when you use it.

  • Safe

These capsules have no flour, preservatives, or even gluten.

  • Meets consumer health needs

Most consumer nutrients and cultural needs are met by this capsule. It is also GRAS, which is generally recognized as safe.

  • Accepted by health societies

Most health societies, especially vegetarian societies, have approved tapioca capsules.

  • Makes supplement manufacturing easy.

These capsules are an excellent alternative for companies that distribute supplements containing organic ingredients.

  • Unique natural look

Tapioca capsules come with an exquisite and clear natural look. This makes it attractive.

  • Different Sizes

You will find tapioca capsules available in different sizes for manufacturers to choose from.

  • Easily customizable

These capsules can be customized in terms of color and look to enhance the appeal of your brand on the market.

Chlorophyll Capsules

Chlorophyll is a substance that is found naturally in plants. This is what gives these plants their green color. Its main role is to allow green plants to get nutrients from the sun or sunlight.

Some benefits of chlorophyll caps include:

  • Unique anti-aging properties
  • Has cancer-protective properties
  • Comes with skin-healing properties
  • Deodorant properties
Chlorophyll Capsules
Chlorophyll Capsules

Enteric Capsules

Another name for enteric capsules is acid-resistant capsules. They are made to accommodate active substances that can be easily degraded by stomach acids. These include probiotics and enzymes.

Benefits of enteric capsules:

  • Fills in enteric caps can be moved through the stomach unbroken. Then, it is released selectively for the small intestines to absorb.
  • They are made from hydroxypropyl methylcellulose phthalate or HPMCP. This is a cellulosic polymer that is PH-sensitive and soluble in gastric acid.
  • Enteric caps are available in only white or clear colors.
Enteric Capsules
Enteric Capsules

Vegetarian Vs Gelatin Capsules

For you to truly appreciate the difference and uniqueness of veggie caps, a comparison between veg capsules and gelatin capsules will help.

Gelatin CapsulesVegetarian Capsules
It is completely (100%) bovine and is obtained from animal collagen hydrolysis.Completely (100%) obtained from cellulose that is plant-based.
Falls short where vulnerability where cross-linking and other related issues are concerned. This leads to reduced solubility.Doesn’t fall short of cross-linking and its other issues.
Has allergens with levels of allergens being dependent on the gelatin source.Hypoallergenic and comes with no common allergens such as lactose and gluten.
Its breakdown is slow when it reaches the digestive systemDigests and breaks down with ease and quickly, immediately it reaches the digestive system.
Is perfect when only powdered and dry product filling is required. Doesn’t work well with oils and gels mostly.Used to fill different vegetarian products. They work well with gels and oils.
Highly sensitive to light, moisture, and heat. Due to this, the effectiveness of content can be easily affected.Light, moisture,  and heat resistance assured to ensure content effectiveness is well maintained.
Not ideal for preparing hygroscopic products.Efficient in hygroscopic product preparation.
Due to its animal source, it isn’t Halal or Kosher certified.Mostly certified Halal or Kosher because it is plant-based.
The ready availability of gelatin makes it reasonably priced.Cellulose production method complexities makes it cost more.
Has low oxidation due to the less oxygen permeability it has.Highly permeable to oxidation due to its loose structure.


Considering the above table stating the major differences between veggie caps and gelatin caps, you can easily tell that apart from cost, where gelatin is less costly, vegetarian capsules take the lead in all the other areas.

Gelatin Capsules
Gelatin Capsules

How to Manufacture Non-gelatin Capsules

Manufacturing non-gelatin or veggie capsules is almost similar to that of other capsules. The main difference has to do with the specific materials used for producing vegan capsule shells. Below is the procedure:

Step 1: Preparing Shell Material

  • To begin this step, water, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, coloring, plasticizers, and coloring are joined together.
  • After combining them, the solution is warmed up for some time. The temperature used is high.

Step 2: Molding Capsules

  • After warming is done in the first step, it moves to a different part of the machine being used for manufacturing. There, vegan capsule shell molding takes place.
  • The cap and body are then placed on the stainless steel pin found in the upper deck part of the machine.
  • After that, the vegan capsule shells on pin bars move to another part of the machine to be dried.

Here, the temperature of the machine is regulated well to ensure drying is done right.

Step 3: Removing Non-Gelatin Capsules

  • After drying, the two parts of these caps are taken off the pin bars.
  • The machine goes on to trim non-gelatin caps, which will be put together later.
  • Additionally, regulation of capsule shell, color, moisture content, and size is handled all through the manufacturing process.

Step 4: Sorting and Printing

  • In this final step, sorting and printing out empty capsule suppliers is done.

With the production of vegan capsule shells, quality is most important.

Disadvantages of Veggie Capsules

Although the benefits of caps are numerous, they come with some disadvantages too. Below are some of them:

  • The cost is a bit high. This is because the ingredients used in producing them take time to source.
  • Producing non-gelatin capsules requires the right details and specialized skills due to how complex they are.
  • The equipment used in producing vegan capsules is expensive. This adds up to making the cost of production and capsules themselves high.

How to When to use Plant Based Capsules

  • Used in the pharmaceutical world as an oral dosage for those who are ill.
  • Ideal as suppositories for rectal or vaginal applications. This is because they dissolve quickly.
  • For beauty supplements in Nutracosmetics.
  • Used in packaging nutritional supplements.
  • Used in the cosmetic industry for packaging specific vitamins like vitamin E.
  • For packaging herbal medicines.


Are Non-Glatin Capsules Safe?

Yes. They are perfectly safe and healthy.

How Long Will It Take Vegetarian Capsules to Dissolve?

Within 20 to 30 minutes after swallowing, non-gelatin capsules start to dissolve.

Can Veggie Capsules Hold Liquid?

Yes. Veggie capsules can hold both oil and liquid solutions.


In conclusion, your decision to choose the right caps to meet your specific needs is something that necessitates some research. With this article providing the right information, you can now decide without much confusion.

More Resources:

Capsules – Source: WIKIPEDIA

Vegetable vs Gelatin Capsules – Source: YASIN GELATIN

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