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Softgels and delivery systems

When it comes to supplements, there is a variety to choose from including lozenges, liquids, tablets, capsules and powders and as a consumer, you likely want the best for your buck. While tablets and capsules are the traditional, more widely used agents and have a time and place in every supplement regime, there are alternative delivery systems that allow for better delivery of nutrients to the body and thus better efficacy. Softgels represent that superior delivery system.
The difference between delivery systems is not always clear, especially when it comes to capsules vs soft gels. Capsules or "Vegi-Caps" refer to a two piece unit which typically holds powdered ingredients. Softgels are a one piece capsule, commonly made of gelatin and almost always contain liquid or oil-based ingredients. The introduction of a comprehensive "Veggie Softgel Series" in the natural health product industry is critical so that vegans/vegetarians can also take advantage.
Softgels Offer Superior Absorption
One of the biggest advantages of offering nutrients in a softgel is that softgels allow for better bioavailability of active ingredients than tablets, capsules or powders. Bioavailability is defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as "The rate and the extent to which the therapeutic moiety is absorbed and becomes available to the site of action". Simply put, bioavailability is the amount of an ingredient that gets absorbed in the body. Absorption is critically important because if there is little or no absorption, then what is the point of popping pills into our body all day long?
Before absorption can take place, nutrients first have to become dissolved from the solid into the liquid state. Tablets and two-piece capsules are in the solid state and thus need to first become soluble into the contents of the stomach before absorption can begin. Sometimes tablets do not dissolve properly because they are "hard". Softgels on the other hand are already in the liquid state and thus allow for greater absorption of nutrients.
Softgels vs. the Rest
There are some other distinct advantages of softgels over tablets and capsules including:
  • Softgels are ideal for oils and fat-soluble ingredients e.g. vitamin D, vitamin K or omega 3's etc. because fat-soluble nutrients are best absorbed in the presence of fat.
  • Softgels can be designed to be digested and broken down in a specific area of the gastrointestinal tract. Think of enteric coating, a process that allows the softgel to bypass the harsh contents of the stomach without being broken down and in some cases, delivered directly to the colon.
  • The flexible shape makes softgels easier to swallow. Shape and flexibility is an issue for certain individuals, seniors and children.
  • Since softgels are fully sealed, they allow sensitive ingredients to be protected from environmental conditions such as light, humidity or oxygen, producing better product stability.
  • Some ingredients that have strong odours or flavours can be better "masked" in softgels, making the softgel more pleasant to consume.
  • Softgels also provide protection from tampering. A punctured softgel will leak or become discoloured; tampering in capsules or tablets is not as obvious.
  • Individuals often report reduced stomach discomfort and do not experience problems with coatings when digesting softgels than when taking tablets or capsules.
  • New vegan friendly softgel series ensures that individuals with strict dietary preferences have greater freedom and more suitable options in their supplement regimes.
  • Softgels are an ideal delivery system providing greater absorption and thus faster and greater efficacy. The introduction of a vegan/vegetarian softgel family further allows individuals with certain dietary preferences the ability to take advantage of this superior delivery system.

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