Gelatin capsules and health

By Serge Kreutz

Modern Nutrition, 2019

Herbal extracts are mostly consumed as capsules. When engaging in a stacking regimen, one may consume 20, 30, or even more capsules a day.

Is there need to worry about any health effects of the gelatin?

Gelatin is made from boiled cattle bones, tendons, and cartilage. If boiled, first collagen is extracted from the bone, tendons, and cartilage, and by cooking on, the indigestible collagen protein is broken down into digestable gelatin.

Gelatin has been consumed by humans as food for thousands of years, and is consumed as food until now.

You can easily make your own gelatin. Just boil some beef bones, unchewable beef tendons, and hard beef connective tissue (cartilage) for a few hours. What you then get is a beef broth (tasty and used in gourmet cooking). What settles on top of the broth is gelatin.

Gelatin is 98 percent pure peptides and protein. With a large enough number of gelatin capsules, you could meet your body's protein requirements.

Gelatin and collagen themselves are sold as health supplement. Shark cartilage has been the most hyped cartilage / collagen / gelatin kind in recent years.

Collagen is what makes a person's skin look tight. Collagen and gelatin (collagen broken down into shorter molecules) are ingredients in many, many cosmetics. Whether the collagen and gelatin in creams will actually contribute to the collagen in a person's own skin? Questionable.

Gelatin and collagen supplements are also sold as ingestable (p.o. = per os = by mouth) supplements, and gelatin is an ingredient in food recipes in amounts many, many times those that would be ingested by 20, 30, or 40 capsules a day.

Gelatin and collagen have long been sold as food supplements for joint health and arthritis. In Canada, it is permitted to make medical claims for gelatin (chemically, this is hydrolyzed collagen = collagen that has been broken into smaller molecules by the action of boiling water and collagen as supplements for joint healing, arthritis, and joint health.

So, if there is any health effect of consuming 20, 30, or 40 gelatin capsule shells a day, the effect will be positive. There just isn't any negative effect associated with consuming gelatin capsule shells, even if 100. Gourmet natural puddings and many natural desserts anyway contain more gelatin, and they haven't been implicated in any unfavorable health condition.


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Chiwele, I., Jones, B.E., Podczeck, F. (2000) The shell dissolution of various empty hard capsules Chemical and pharmaceutical Bulletin Volume 48 Issue 7, Pages 951-956

K├╝llenberg, D.,Taylor, L. A., Schneider, M., Massing, U. (2012) Health effects of dietary phospholipids Lipids in health and disease Volume 11 Issue 1, Page 3

Neuman R.E (1949) The amino acid composition of gelatine, collagens and elastins from different sources. Arch. Biochem. Volume 24, Issue 289-298

Schrieber, R., Gareis, H. (2007) Gelatine handbook: theory and industrial practice John Wiley & Sons

Stevens, P. (2009) Gelatine. Food stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents, Pages 116-144

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