Delivery Basics: Dietary Supplement Capsules, Tablets and Powders

Delivery Basics: Dietary Supplement Capsules, Tablets & Powders

You’ve established all of your key ingredients, you know which certifications you’d like it to have – two undeniably important factors – but have you settled on the delivery method? Finding the best delivery method for your product influences everything from the bioavailability and efficacy of its ingredients to cost per unit.

Especially for those looking to break into the industry, there are a handful of vitally important questions that have to be answered before your manufacturer can actually start the manufacturing process. “Delivery method of choice” happens to be one of them.

Popular Dietary Supplement Delivery Methods

It’s no secret that there are a variety of different delivery methods available to brand owners looking to bring their products to market. Nor is it a secret that some methods are better suited for certain applications than others. The best delivery method for a new product will be dependent upon a number of factors including general formulation the ingredients’ bioavailability (which is the fancy way of saying “the percentage of the total amount of ingredient ‘x’ that the body actually absorbs”). That being acknowledged, here’s a brief overview of the three of the most popular dietary supplement delivery methods:

Capsules & Soft-Gels

The majority of capsules, be they hard-shelled or soft-gels, are made using gelatin-based solutions, but there are plant-based options for brand owners looking to meet the needs of vegetarian and vegan consumers. In these instances, capsules are usually made from plant-based polysaccharides (which are, more or less, complex carbohydrates and sugars).

When it comes to capsules, some of their more popular manufacturing benefits include their ability to accommodate a wide variety of unique formulations and ingredients. Currently, they’re one of the only methods capable of delivering dry ingredients as well as oils and other oil-suspended ingredients. On the consumer end of things, capsules are a popular choice for their tendency to be odorless, tasteless, and relatively easy to swallow.

As with everything, the capsule route does have its limitations. Some of the more popular ones include production costs, the ability for larger dosages to turn into unreasonably large capsules rather quickly, and their susceptibility to moisture.


Often recognized as being one of the most cost-effective methods, the tableting process takes a powdered formulation that is relatively dry, freely-flowing, and uniform in particle size and compresses it into a single dosage sized tablet. Two of the most important factors to consider with the tablets are the amount of time it will take for the tablet to break down in the digestive tract and the bioavailability/ideal absorption methods for you supplement’s primary ingredients.

Along with their cost-effectiveness, some of their most popular manufacturing advantages include highly customizable nature of their size and shape, the option to include notching for dose splitting, and the ability to engineer their release rate (popular options include ‘quick,’ ‘delayed,’ and ‘extended release’).

The popular manufacturing limitations and consumer concerns? The risk of excessive compaction causing poor dissolution, customer concerns about their dissolution rates, and customer sensitivities to external coatings.


Powders are a great option for brand owners looking to provide their customers with a product that can be taken without swallowing some kind of pill or tablet. Products that opt for a powder-based delivery method can (depending on the specific options available for a given formulations) be taken in combination with a wide variety of beverages and foods.

On the customer facing side of things, powders are sometimes viewed as being limited by their dosage method (i.e.: the need to manually measure out each scoop unless there’s a single serving packaging option), and the fact that your product’s flavor has to meet your customers’ tastes if it’s going to perform well.

Finding the Best Delivery Method for Your Product

When it comes to choosing the best delivery method for your dietary supplement product, it’s important to take into account the options that are capable of addressing your company’s strategic needs, your formulation’s needs, and – above all else – a delivery method that addresses your customers’ needs. Along with independent research, one of the simplest ways to find the right option for your product is with the help of your manufacturer’s production specialists.

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