September 1, 2022 by NutraPak USA

When considering nutritional supplements, the softgels vs capsules debate has been going on for a long time. These, along with tablets, are the most common delivery systems for supplements as well as both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Both consumers and supplement sellers should learn as much as possible about the pros and cons of softgels vs. capsules. 

What are Softgels?

Softgels and capsules share certain traits. Many people find both easier to swallow than tablets. However, there are differences in how capsules and softgels are made. Softgels are most commonly used to contain liquid supplements. They are usually made with gelatin, though there are also vegetarian softgels made from plant-based ingredients. 

What are Capsules?

When people talk about capsules, they may be including softgels. However, for our purposes, we are referring to hard shell capsules. Capsules are usually cylinder-shaped shells made from animal or plant ingredients that fit together. By contrast, softgels form a single unit. 

Softgels vs. Capsules: Pros and Cons

Are softgels better than capsules? There’s no one right answer, as it depends on many factors. The following are some of the pros and cons of softgels vs. capsules.

 Softgel Pros

  • Softgels are an efficient delivery system for oils and liquids.
  • Softgels have a longer shelf life than tablets or capsules. 
  • Softgels are very easy to swallow, even more so than hard shell capsules.
  • Softgels can deliver nutrients in the most desirable manner, either immediate-release or sustained-release. 

Softgel Cons

  • Softgels are not appropriate for moisture-sensitive ingredients.
  • The manufacturing cost can be higher for softgels. This also impacts retail prices for consumers.
  • Complicated manufacturing process compared to other delivery systems.

Capsule Pros

  • Capsules can contain a wider range of ingredients than softgels. Ingredients can be ground into powders and contained in hard shell capsules. 
  • Tasteless and odorless. While softgels mask the taste more than tablets, strong tastes such as fish can still be noticeable. Hardshell capsules can be swallowed without the user noticing any tastes.
  • Can be opened. The two halves of a capsule can be opened by the user to split into multiple dosages. The powder can also be placed into food or beverages. 

Capsule Cons

  • Not as easy to swallow as softgels. Larger capsules can be problematic for some users. Some may find the hard shell irritating to the throat. 
  • Capsules are typically more expensive to make than tablets, though not usually as costly as softgels.

Softgels vs Capsules: How to Choose

Both softgels and capsules can be good, depending on your needs. From the point of view of consumers, some supplements may be available in both forms. Supplement manufacturers, when choosing what delivery system to use, should consider the following criteria.

  • What ingredients are in the supplement? For liquids or oils, such as fish oil, hardshell capsules aren’t always practical. 
  • Costs. Depending on the product or who is manufacturing the supplements, there may be a cost difference between softgels vs capsules. If you have a choice, you may want to pick the more economical option.
  • Consumer preferences. Customers may have a preference. For example, older people may have difficulty swallowing large capsules, making softgels more appealing.

Since consumers have different preferences, it’s often ideal if you can offer them a choice of delivery systems when possible. 

Private Label and Manufacturing For Softgels and Capsules

If you are selling supplements, it’s important to know what are softgels, what are capsules, and the merits of softgels vs. capsules. You may also want to offer supplements in other delivery systems such as tablets or liquids. NutraPak is a leading private label manufacturer of capsules, softgels, and other supplements. We produce a wide variety of vitamins and formulas, such as multivitamins, Vitamin D, fish oil, Vitamin C, hemp oil, and supplements for pets. 

We offer a full range of services, including private label manufacturing softgels and capsules. NutraPak offers capsule and softgel manufacturing, as well as other services such as warehousing, labeling, and supplement marketing. To learn more about manufacturing and other services for capsules, softgels, and other supplements, contact NutraPak.

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