Selecting the Optimal Supplement Delivery System

September 17, 2008

3 Min Read
Selecting the Optimal Supplement Delivery System

Imagine, instead of having to walk down your driveway to pick up your newspaper, it was placed on the doormat every single day. More convenience and greater satisfaction, right? That’s the same idea with dietary supplements. Choosing the best configuration for a formula can mean the difference between meeting customer expectations and exceeding them.

A key factor when offering the consumer an effective supplement is choosing the most appropriate delivery system for the formula. There is no shortage of options. Common nutritional products currently come in a wide variety of forms: tablets, sublingual tablets, two-piece capsules, softgels, liquids, powders. In addition, consumers are finding alternate ways of getting their recommended daily intake of nutrients, as food bars, ready-made smoothies and sports drinks have become increasingly popular.

Softgels are one of the most popular delivery methods for supplements. They provide a clean, aesthetically pleasing visual in a variety of color options. Softgels are also swallowed easily, making them a better choice for consumers who may not be able to swallow large pills. Perhaps most importantly is the perception among consumers that softgels are the most absorbable option, allowing them to get the best value out of their supplements. With nutrients such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which has fat-soluble properties, using oil-filled softgels is an easy decision when in comes to maximizing an ingredient’s efficacy.

Marketers and contract manufacturers should develop a working relationship with open communication, which allows both sides to address possible challenges or issues with a given product. For instance, there are situations in which softgels are not an optimal format. In some cases, there may be space limitations for the formula (getting ample quantities of protein, for example) or interactions between raw materials (such as the effect of very low pH on a gelatin shell). Thus, it is important to consider both the physical and chemical properties of a formula. Manufacturers with extensive experience in developing formulations can help customers understand the importance of choosing an appropriate delivery system, ensuring a product maximizes its potential in a manner that fits within the end-user’s usage, lifestyle and economic parameters.

There are definitely reasons for and against choosing other types of delivery systems as well. Easily digestible liquids, or powders dispersed into liquids, are generally a great way to provide nutrients; but, depending on the dosage quantity, convenience and taste may be an issue. It should be simple to visualize: It is much easier to carry around a few pills than to lug around a 30-oz. plastic jug. Two-piece hard shell capsules can be quicker to manufacture than softgels, but don’t have the same lubricity. Tablets can compress a large quantity of nutrients, but consumers are often concerned whether they will disintegrate in the stomach.

The nutrition industry has been moving in a direction focused on providing safe, effective, high-value products to the consumer. In addition to the continued presence of internationally-recognized certification groups such as NSF International and the Natural Products Association, FDA has taken a much stronger stance on controlling quality with implementation of the federal GMP (good manufacturing practice) requirements. Manufacturers and marketers of dietary supplements have an obligation to consumers to provide the best possible options to enhance their health and quality of life. A variety of delivery system choices helps achieve that goal and get that supplement to their doorsteps.

With more than 10 years in the nutrition industry in both retailing and manufacturing, Brandon Nomura has a balanced understanding of both consumer and marketer demands. Nomura is a sales manager for Soft Gel Technologies Inc. (SGTI), a contract manufacturer of soft gelatin capsules.

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