Veg Caps

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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The two main types of capsules that the pharmaceutical and health food industries use are gelatin capsules and veg caps. Veg caps, the vegetarian alternative to animal-based gelatin capsules, are produced with agar, which comes from East Asian seaweed. They are just as easy to digest as gelatin capsules, although vegetarian capsules generally do not contain collagen, which can help strengthen joints.

Vegetarian capsules are highly popular within the health food market as containers for nutritional supplements and vitamins. They are also available for purchase as empty capsules that can be filled with any custom mixture of vitamins and herbal supplements. Empty veg caps are available in the same sizes as regular gel caps.

Agar, the Main Material in Veg Caps

Agar has properties that are remarkably similar to gelatin. It has little of its own taste, and, being translucent, is similar to gelatin in appearance. Also like gelatin, agar must be dissolved in hot water and cooled before it can be used in manufacturing processes.

Unlike gelatin, however, agar is gelatinous after the initial cooling process, without any additional manufacturing. This makes agar very easy to form into any shape--commonly produced forms include blocks or large sheets. Perhaps because it is so easy to produce from a raw form, agar has been used in East Asian foodstuffs for centuries, including Japanese desserts such as Anmitsu.

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