April 18, 2024
Nutraceutical Excipients

Enhancing Nutraceutical Formulations: Exploring the Role of Excipients

Nutraceutical excipients play an important role in the development and manufacturing of nutraceutical products. They help improve the functionality, stability, safety and effectiveness of nutraceuticals. Some key nutraceutical excipients include emulsifiers, binders, fillers, disintegrants and flavors.


Emulsifiers are surface active agents that help combine two immiscible liquids like oil and water into a stable emulsion. They reduce surface tension at the interface of the liquids allowing them to mix homogenously. In nutraceuticals, emulsifiers are commonly used to solubilize oil soluble nutrients, vitamins and minerals into aqueous delivery systems. Common emulsifiers used include soy lecithin, polysorbate 80, glycerol monostearate etc. They help mask unpleasant tastes and improve bioavailability of lipophilic compounds. Emulsifiers should be carefully selected based on the product formulation to provide stability against separation.


Binders are used to bind powder particles together into a cohesive powder or granules that maintains its physical integrity during manufacturing, handling and usage. They improve processability and prevent crumbling. Commonly used binders include microcrystalline cellulose, hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose (HPMC), pregelatinized starch etc. They impart desirable compression properties and disintegration characteristics. The right binder concentration is important to balance between good product strength and rapid dissolution. Over use of binders can lead to slower dissolution defeating the purpose of the formulation.


Fillers are primarily used to increase the bulk volume of tablets or capsules allowing manufacture of products with suitable size and weight. They also enhance flow properties and compression behavior during tableting. Common filler excipients include microcrystalline cellulose, lactose, calcium phosphate etc. Fillers should be selected based on properties like density, compressibility, particle size and flow characteristics. They must be pharmacologically inert and compatible with other formulation components. Microcrystalline cellulose is widely used as it provides good compressibility at low concentrations.


Nutraceutical Excipient like Disintegrants promote the break-up of tablet or capsule contents into smaller particles after oral administration, facilitating efficient dispersion and dissolution in gastrointestinal fluids. This results in faster and more complete release of active components. Common disintegrants include croscarmellose sodium, sodium starch glycolate and crospovidone. They work by swelling upon contact with water and exerting pressure on the surrounding matrix leading to its disruption. The right concentration and particle properties are important for fast, reproducible disintegration. Disintegrants help improve bioavailability of formulations especially those intended for rapid release.

Natural Flavors

Natural and artificial flavors are added to nutraceuticals to mask unpleasant tastes and improve patient acceptance and compliance. Examples include fruit flavors like orange, lemon, cherry etc fabricated from natural sources using techniques like distillation, expression or solvent extraction. Flavors can modulate release kinetics by forming solid dispersions with actives upon spray drying. They enhance palatability and organoleptic properties making dry powder and liquid formulations more appealing. Flavors must undergo stringent safety evaluation and be stable during processing and long term storage. Artificial flavors are synthetic equivalents with stability advantages but natural flavors are preferred where possible.

Role of Granulation

Granulation is commonly used in the manufacture of nutraceutical tablets and capsules to improve flow properties and compressibility of powders by increasing particle size and reducing cohesiveness. It involves agglomeration of powder particles through liquid addition and binding. Wet granulation using solutions of polymers like PVP or HPMC as binders results in stronger granules with characteristic flow. Dry granulation using roller compaction or slugging produces moderately binding granules. Granule properties like size, density and hardness determination are critical process quality attributes. Consistent granule formation across batches ensures reproducible product performance. Granulation helps incorporate excipients efficiently into the formulation.

Tableting and Capsuling

Tablet manufacturing typically involves granule blending, compaction and finishing steps. Granules undergo compression under high pressures in a tablet press between punches to form compact tablets of defined shape, weight and hardness. Capsules are filled either by encapsulation of powders or inserting pre-formed tablets or pellets. Capsule filling requires careful weight variation control. Appropriate excipient selection and concentration optimizes tabletability, mechanical strength and disintegration. Tablet coatings provide visual appeal, identification and protection from moisture and oxidation. Enteric coatings prevent gastric irritation and control release site. Nutraceutical product performance and stability are influenced by manufacturing process parameters.

Ensuring Safety and Efficacy

Quality by Design principles guide excipient selection and formulation development to deliver intended functionality safely. Compatibility studies probe interactions between actives and excipients. Stability studies under ICH conditions demonstrate product stability over shelf life. Toxicological evaluation establishes excipient safety margins. Dissolution and disintegration tests demonstrate consistent and sufficient release. Content uniformity and impurity profiling confirm batch quality. Clinical studies investigate efficacy, bioavailability and tolerability. cGMP compliance during commercial production maintains quality and safety standards. Proper packaging and storage conditions preserve quality attributes. Post surveillance monitors field performance. Together regulatory requirements and good practices help deliver effective, safe nutraceutical products.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it