Tablets are the most cost-effective supplements in general because they are less-expensive to manufacture than other formats. Tablets allow the manufacturer to pack the most material into a given space. From the manufacturing standpoint, tablets are the most shelf-stable choice and retain their potency over a longer time than liquids, powders and most capsules. Tablets can be offered in the widest range of sizes and shapes. And as long as you stick with a name-brand product and take it as directed, you neednít worry about absorption issues with tablets. Drawbacks to tablets? Large tablets can be hard for some people to swallow. Tablets donít offer the flexibility of dosing that liquids and powders do.
Caplets are simply tablets that have a smaller size and smoother-coating, making them as easy to swallow as capsules without giving up the other advantages of tablets. There are far fewer products offered in caplet form than tablets, however. In every other respect, caplets are similar to tablets.
Capsules refer to the familiar two-piece gelatin capsules that are widely used in supplements and some medications. Their main advantages are their easy-to-swallow characteristics and their ability to break down quickly in the stomach, although, again, not to the point that thereís any nutritional advantage. Vegetarian capsules, of which VegiCaps are the best-known brand, are a gelatin-free alternative rapidly gaining popularity as customers become more hesitant to consume meat by-products like gelatin. Some people like the fact that they can open up capsules and, using all or part of its powdered contents, mix the nutrients into applesauce or a protein shake, for example. That can be a great aid to children or others who have difficulty swallowing pills. The drawbacks of capsules? They cost considerably more than tablets. They have significant space and potency limitations since their powdered contents cannot be compressed to a significant degree. Since capsules are not air-tight, their shelf-life is shorter than tablets. They are not suited to liquid or oil-based nutrients either unless special, expensive encapsulation techniques and products are used.
Softgels are one-piece gelatin capsules almost exclusively used for liquid or oil-based formulas. Although vegetarian softgels have been introduced to the market, adoption has been slow and as of this writing, gelatin softgels are still virtually the only type youíre likely to come across when supplement shopping. Because of their smooth contour and shape, softgels are very easy-to-swallow regardless of size. They also offer superior shelf-life profiles to capsules, liquids and powders since they are completely sealed and air-tight. But like tablets, you donít have any flexibility with the dose of softgels since they canít be neatly broken or opened up. You can use more softgels or fewer softgels, but thatís it. Softgel manufacture is specialized and considerably more expensive than tablets or capsules, and softgel product pricing tends to reflect that.