From the mood-boosting effects of magnesium to the difference between D2 and D3, we’ve done a lot of geeking out about the benefits of our favorite nutrients. But now that you know all about what’s inside of our snazzy nutrient snowglobes, it’s time to focus on the little shell holding all the good stuff together. That’s right--even the capsule itself has something to offer. Here to give us the lowdown on the benefits of our vegan capsule is the brain behind these little beauties--Dr. Luke Bucci, our Head of Research and Development.
Ritual’s capsules are so pretty--but are they all show and no go?
Not at all! In fact, they work better than most multivitamin capsules out there. Most capsules start to break down in the stomach, where they’re subjected to the harshness of stomach acid. This isn’t ideal for a variety of reasons (we’ll get to that later). Our capsule is different. It’s a vegan DRcap(TM) from Capsugel. DR stands for “delayed release,” meaning it can actually resist stomach acid, waiting to deliver all its nutrient contents until it gets past the stomach and into the small intestine (the best place for nutrient absorption).
Can you explain a little more about why I might want my pills to get past the stomach?
First, convenience. Because Essential doesn’t dissolve right away, you can take it on an empty stomach without worrying about nausea. This means you don’t have to plan to take your vitamins with meals--you can do it anytime.
Second, tolerability (aka minimizing gross side effects). Bypassing the stomach means you avoid burpback of odors from the oil or other ingredients, making the capsules easier to take. To ensure effectiveness, we use special forms of nutrients that don’t need stomach acid in order to be absorbed by the body. And we chose small capsules that exit the stomach more easily, so they don’t loiter and clank around in there.
Third, deliverability. Because stomach acid is a pretty caustic substance, it can actually change the forms of some minerals and vitamins, sometimes not for the better. By bypassing the stomach, our nutrients stay in their healthiest, food-identical forms without interference.
How do I know the capsules work as advertised?
It’s been tested! In the first series of studies, people swallowed DRcaps filled with safe radio-opaque compounds. These people were then X-rayed, showing that the DRcaps release their contents after passing through the stomach.
We also use something called in vitro dissolution testing. This test is mandated by Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for dietary supplements. Dissolution testing measures how fast a pill breaks up in a simulated, out-of-body setting (called in vitro). Pills are exposed to simulated gastric fluid (made up of water, acid and pepsin enzyme) and carefully agitated to mimic the movement inside your stomach. Then the pH (acidity) of the liquid is changed to an almost neutral level using simulated pancreatic fluid with buffer salts. Measuring samples of the fluid during this process lets you know how quickly the pill releases its contents.
The chart below compares magnesium release from our DRcap to another commonly used capsule called a VCap.
As you can see, at 30 minutes, only about 4% of magnesium has been released from DRcaps, but almost half of the magnesium from the Vcap has already entered the stomach. By the time the pill has been in the stomach for one hour, the Vcap has completely dissolved and all its magnesium has been released into the stomach, while only 16% from the DRcap has been released. After two hours (a very long time for a pill to hang out in the stomach), the DRCap has still only given up less than half of its magnesium. Once the pH is changed to that of the intestinal tract, the DRcap smoothly dissolves over a 3 hour period, creating a gentle release of magnesium that mimics the way your body digests food!
The release profile of DRcaps is exactly why we chose them for Essential. They steadily release nutrients to optimize absorption and tolerability. Based on feedback from users, DRcaps were the right choice! Easy to take, easy to feel your best.