The Disadvantages of Gelatin Capsules

colourful capsules on the spoon image by Maria Brzostowska from

Gelatin capsules are used for many types of medications and over-the-counter supplements from vitamins to antibiotics. There are two types of gelatin capsules, hard and soft. Hard capsules are firm, hold powdered forms of supplements and medications, and are usually made in two sections.

Soft gels often hold liquid medications or fish oil supplements inside and are pliable to the touch, like a tiny bag of liquid. While there are many advantages to gelatin capsules, they have certain properties that limit their effective use in some cases.

Dietary Restrictions

Certain considerations prevent the use of gelatin capsules by certain segments of the population. The gelatin base for capsules is often made from pig or bovine products. Dietary restrictions or religious concerns prevent some customers from consuming this type of capsule. Pork and pig products are forbidden to those of the Jewish and Islamic faiths. Bovine diseases are also a concern for some. In addition, vegetarians would not wish to consume this type of gelatin.

Cost and Equipment

Gelatin capsules require special equipment to manufacture. The equipment to produce them is highly specialised and adds an additional phase of manufacturing. The maker of the drug may need to contract out that job. This adds to cost and production time.


Gelatin breaks down relatively easily in a variety of substances. Being water soluble, the capsules can be affected or damaged by humidity and liquids. There are also a limited number of carrier oils or liquids to suspend medication in soft gels, and certain substances can break down the hard gelatin capsules. Hard capsules can also become brittle and crack. Soft gel capsules can break down with heat and age. All would cause loss of product and effectiveness.