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The science – and art – behind soft gel capsules

The science – and art – behind soft gel capsules

The world, it seems, has a voracious appetite for dietary supplements in soft gel form. Nutrilite™ alone sells about a billion soft gels a year – and demand is such that more capacity is under construction at an Amway complex in Ada, Mich.

And with good reason. Some popular and highly beneficial dietary supplements, such as fish oil omega-3, must be taken in liquid form to be effective. Soft gels are a convenient, palatable way for consumers to take these supplements. The gel shell also stabilizes the liquids and gives the supplements longer shelf life.

Other supplements, such as Coenzyme Q10, start out as powders but the body best absorbs them as a suspension (that is, tiny particles suspended in liquid). Nutrilite makes these supplements in soft gel form also, to deliver the highest quality ingredients and most satisfying consumer experience.

Soft gels also allow for more precise dosing. They are difficult to tamper with because any tampering will cause the shells to leak or discolor. And consumers increasingly are asking for more supplements in soft gel form because they are easier to swallow and seem more palatable than some tablets.

Making these little wonder capsules is complex, much more labor-intensive and time-consuming than producing tablets. Soft gels have been around for some time – perhaps as many as 50 years in the pharmaceutical industry. Yet it still takes unrelenting quality control, uncompromising employees and up to seven days to produce a single batch of Nutrilite soft gel vitamin and dietary supplements.

Production involves the perfect melding of two separate formulas (contents and gelatin shell), precise control of machines and temperatures, up to two days of drying and even laser etching of much of the final product. The gelatin shell must be strong enough not to leak, yet the right consistency to dissolve and release its contents into the body. Every capsule must be uniform in color, shape and size. Even with exacting employees and the industry’s best technology, experts say producing top-quality gels is as much art as science. That’s why every single Nutrilite soft gel is visually inspected to ensure it meets the exacting quality standards of the Nutrilite brand.

The next time you go to pop a soft gel supplement into your mouth, take a moment to appreciate it for the science – and art – that it is.