By Missy Lowery, Senior Manager of Marketing, and Justin Southern, Formulations Scientist, Capsugel (Morristown, NJ)
Weight management remains a key category of the U.S. dietary supplement market. Recent data from Nutrition Business Journal indicate that weight-management supplements are still among the top 10 of top-100-selling dietary supplements in the United States. As the demand for weight-management products rises alongside a growing obese and overweight population, manufacturers would be wise to understand that product-delivery formats can appeal to consumers as much as the weight-management ingredients themselves. The ease of use and appeal of a dosage form not only influences whether a consumer will regularly use a product; it also greatly affects a supplement’s efficacy and outcomes.
Of the 78 new weight-management supplements Mintel reported launching globally between January 2015 and May 2016, 46% were formulated in capsules. Brand companies are relying on capsules as their delivery form because they are a simple and clean-label approach to supplement delivery. The consumer mega-trends of transparency and authenticity are influencing buying in this category. Claims on some of the major new products speak to naturally nutrient-rich ingredients, non-GMO verification, and minimal processing—all promises that capsules can help products make thanks to innovation and technological advancements.
In addition to providing vegetarian and non-GMO consumer choices, hard-capsule technologies can also help manufacturers meet delivery challenges of stability, bioavailability, and taste-masking presented by some of the most popular weight-management ingredients. Ahead, we look at some of the delivery-system dilemmas implicit in weight-management formulating today and how hard capsules provide solutions.
Resveratrol (Red Wine Extract)
Resveratrol is a molecule found in the skin of red grapes and in red wine. Researchers have been investigating resveratrol’s potential effect on weight management and its ability to enhance exercise endurance. The resveratrol molecule, however, is prone to degradation if exposed to oxygen, heat, or light, all of which can compromise the supplement’s stability over time.
But stability can be achieved when the extract liquid is encapsulated in a hard gelatin capsule that is flushed with nitrogen before it is fused shut with a hermetic seal in order to reduce oxidative action. The capsule’s opaque shell can also protect the contents from light. Furthermore, because resveratrol has a bitter taste, consuming it via a hard capsule that opens after ingestion eliminates the unpleasant taste if resveratrol is swallowed in straight liquid form.
A building block of protein, L-arginine is a precursor of nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to relax for a positive cardiovascular effect. L-arginine is thought to stimulate protein synthesis when combined with weightlifting and a hyper-caloric diet, and might promote weight management by reducing body fat and increasing lean mass.
L-arginine can be micronized (broken down into extremely small particles)—as well as solubilized—in a free-flowing liquid with a high concentration of active ingredient so that the active is more easily absorbed. Encapsulating this liquid formulation in a hard-shell capsule in a nitrogen-flushed environment and then hermetically sealing it has been shown to maintain stability of this product compared to other forms of L-arginine.
HMB (β-hydroxy β-methylbutyric Acid)
A naturally occurring metabolite of leucine in the body, HMB has been shown to increase the synthesis of proteins in skeletal muscle and reduce muscle damage and breakdown post-exercise, helping to support regular exercise and muscle health. HMB in a calcium salt form or a free-acid (FA) form is often formulated into a liquid for drinking.
For greater convenience and bioavailability, however, the HMB-FA form can be encapsulated at a much higher dosage level than the HMB salt form. A dose of up to 500 mg in a colorless, readily absorbable liquid can be stabilized for long-term integrity—even despite the ingredient’s acidic nature—in a hard-shell capsule made of a low-moisture hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) vegetarian polymer.
White Kidney Bean Extract
Used in weight management as a carbohydrate blocker, this extract has been studied for its ability to inhibit the action of the body’s amylase enzyme, which otherwise breaks starches into sugars for absorption in the body. Supplement manufacturers can maintain vegetarian claims by encapsulating this natural extract of white kidney bean in a HPMC hard capsule as a powder fill or liquid fill.