The market is flooded with a plethora of nutraceutical products offered by countless players giving rise to cut-throat competition. This industry is largely consumer-driven and therefore consumers play a crucial role in deciding the fate of these products. The expectations of health conscious consumers are many and their number is constantly on the rise.
Sustainability Is En Vogue
“Sustainability” has been the buzzword in most industries for quite some time now. It may mean products developed using naturally-derived ingredients or minimally processed products. It may even refer to products manufactured using fewer and known or recognizable ingredients. Currently there is no consensus on the usage of this term nor is its scope completely defined. However, as far as consumer choices are concerned, a noticeable shift towards vegetarianism has been observed. Animal-based products are now a strict no-no. Today consumers look for plant-based, natural ingredients in product labels to make purchase decisions.
Gelatin Capsule – A Complete Misfit for Nutraceuticals
Gelatin, traditionally a key ingredient for manufacturing capsules although is naturally obtained and a popular choice for capsule manufacturers, does not qualify as vegetarian. It is obtained from animal sources and therefore not suitable for nutraceuticals. This is the primary reason there has been a radical shift towards HPMC (Hydroxy Methyl Cellulose) as the material of choice for capsules especially in the nutraceutical industry.
HPMC – The Vegetarian Answer to Gelatin
Besides being vegetarian, HPMC also offers a host of other advantages. Most important of all is its low inherent moisture content which makes it a superior choice over gelatin. For example, hygroscopic ingredients filled in gelatin capsules absorb the moisture from the shells causing it to chip away, break or become brittle. HPMC capsules on the other hand are suitable for filling moisture-sensitive ingredients and pose no such problems. Certain drugs, excipients and storage conditions can lead to the problem of cross-linking or polymerization in gelatin capsules. Cross-linking renders a capsule resistant to dissolution as a result of which, the drug fails to release at the desired rate. This problem of cross-linking is not associated with HPMC capsules. Additionally, HPMC capsules also have excellent mechanical strength and machinability that allow easy capsule filling on any encapsulation machine.
HPMC capsules are being used by many well-known nutraceutical suppliers globally. From conventional capsules filled with powder intended for oral administration to those intended for inhalation, HPMC finds use in a variety of applications.