Skip to navigation

Excipients... Approved for use

Has it ever crossed your mind as to how tablets are made?

The term excipient refers to the ‘inactive’ ingredients used in tablet making. These ingredients provide little, if any, nutritional value to the body, however, they are crucial to the accurate manufacturing of tablets, capsules and liquids and often serve to protect the nutrient. We only use excipients that are useful and necessary – always at safe levels and we’re always reviewing, improving and converting when we can. All of the excipients Nature’s Best® uses are approved by the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

Tablet making is a real skill

Any experienced tablet technician will tell you that it is quite easy to make very hard, perfect tablets. However, the real skill lies in making tablets that will disintegrate quickly once swallowed. To achieve this, special ingredients called ‘disintegrants’ need to be added to the formula. These are normally plant sourced cellulose or starches, and the tablet maker has to use his experience, plus a lot of trial and error, to get the formula exactly right.

Every tablet we sell has a specific disintegration time. A small number of tablets are formulated to disintegrate slowly, like our vitamin C, but generally the tablet technician aims for between 30-60 minutes. Do all companies in the vitamin sector follow these principles? No, our experience is that some agents that import bulk tablets into the UK are surprised to be asked about disintegration time, and certainly don’t have the information available.

Does disintegration time matter? Yes, a lot! Different nutrients are absorbed in different parts of the digestive tract. So, the correct disintegration time means you get the optimum chance to absorb the nutrients from your supplement.

The excipients we use:


Beetroot Powder
A natural pink colouring agent added in minute quantities to colour tablets.

Calcium Carbonate and DiCalcium Phosphate
These are excellent buffers of acidic nutrients such as vitamin C, but they can also be used as diluents. Many ingredients are required in such tiny amounts that they have to be diluted to ensure that accurate dispersion can occur.

This is a seaweed based gelling agent and an excellent alternative to gelatine.

This has two uses. Sometimes we need to add this ingredient to the formula to speed up the disintegration of the tablet. It is a natural ingredient from plants and absorbs moisture in the tablet which helps disintegration. Some nutrients are needed in tiny amounts and the skill of a tablet maker is to ensure that each tablet has the right amount of the nutrient. To do this the nutrient is first mixed with an inert material such as cellulose.

Natural green colouring agent used in some of our tablet coatings. It’s added in minute amounts.

Crosslinked Cellulose Gum
In order to ensure that tablets dissolve within a specified time, disintegrants such as this are included to aid the breakdown of the tablet.

A natural yellow colouring agent derived from the turmeric root which is used in some tablet coatings.

Disodium Phosphate
This ingredient helps to combine ingredients together.

An especially useful material often used in capsule shell production. We only use pharmaceutical grade bovine gelatine that complies with the very stringent standards of the Gelatine Manufacturers of Europe Association (GMEA).

Glycerine/ Glycerol
This plant sourced material is used to help keep capsules flexible and prevent them from becoming brittle which can lead to breakage and spoilage. In addition, it has antimicrobial preservative properties.

Glyceryl Monostearate
A very versatile excipient useful in the production of sustained (time release) products. It’s mainly used as an emulsifier bringing fats and water-based nutrients together.

Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose
Used to coat tablets. It helps protect the nutrients and also helps to ensure a smooth tablet finish which makes the tablets easy to swallow.

Iron Oxide
A natural red pigment used to even the colour profile in some of our tablets. We have made significant reductions in the use of colours in our tablet coatings, in fact, they’ve been reduced by 41%.  Now only very few products have colour coatings. Despite its name, iron oxide contains a negligible amount of iron, and does not pose a risk to those who need to avoid iron.

Magnesium Stearate
From vegetable source, this material is essential for accurate mixing and tablet manufacture. It stops powders from clumping together.

Modified Starch
A popular disintegrant derived from plant sourced ingredients.

Potassium Sorbate
Used in liquid preparations as an antimicrobial preservative.

Rice Powder
An excellent tablet binder that is crucial to tablet integrity. It helps to prevent weak crumbly tablet cores.

Silicon Dioxide
This is a flow aid. It helps the free-flowing nature of powders during processing.

Often used in chewable formulations as its pleasant flavour makes it an ideal diluent for ingredients required in small amounts.

Stearic Acid
This is an emulsifier which assists in the blending of complex formulations.

This is used in small amounts as a sweetening agent to improve palatability. It’s useful in chewable products where taste is an important consideration. There have been more than 100 scientific studies conducted over a 20-year period demonstrating its safety as a sweetening agent.

Sulphur Dioxide
This has antimicrobial properties.

TriCalcium Phosphate
Required to balance the pH of some formulas, this is often referred to as an acidity regulator.

A natural sweetener used to sweeten chewable products, with the benefit over sugar that it does not cause tooth decay. It has a long history of safety use.

If you have any questions regarding any of the excipients we use please get in touch with our Nutrition Advisors who will be happy to help.

Subscribe to our emails