Capsules or Tablets, Let the Science Decide

It seems that the PAGG phenomenon has caused a lot of consumers (and even a few producers) who don't have a lot of experience with supplements to make some pretty wild claims. We want to dispel a few myths to help you, our customer, be more informed when you order from us, or any other supplement provider.

One of the biggest sources of confusion about supplements is whether capsules or tablets are superior. This is really unfortunate since there are advantages and disadvantages to both depending on the application and desired outcome.


Compliance is the measure for how closely you follow your dosage schedule. Unless you are in the hospital or a controlled coaching situation, you are probably taking your supplements voluntarily and without supervision. The best supplement in the world would be useless if you didn’t take it when you were supposed to (low compliance). Since manufacturers can’t be at your side to make sure you take your pill, we have to do what we can to increase compliance, and ultimately the product’s effectiveness.

Ease of Use

A 2005 study showed that capsules were preferred over tablets by 90% of participants.

A product that is easy to use, is more likely to be used. When it comes to oral supplements, ease of use is determined by pill size, shape, taste and smell. When a manufacturer does it right, you don’t notice but when it’s done poorly (horse pills, bad odor or taste) compliance drops quickly.

Tablets are produced by compressing the ingredients under great pressure using either a centrifuge or a high powered press/compactor. There is a lot of control over the shape and size of the tablets including the addition of notching to make it easier to split a tablet.

Capsules are produced by placing the raw ingredients inside a small two piece container that dissolves during digestion. Because the ingredients are not highly compressed, the capsules can end up being a bit larger. While this might seem to present a challenge to people who have a hard time swallowing pills, the smooth container of a capsule is more likely to hide rough edges, foul taste, or smell of the ingredients and as a result most people find capsules a lot easier to swallow. In fact, a 2005 study showed that capsules were preferred over tablets by 90% of the participants.[1] Ease of swallowing was also the primary reason why a 1997 study found that 74% of consumers of herbal products expressed a preference for two piece capsules over tablets.[2]

For the PAGG stack, capsules are an obvious choice. With the exact dose in each pill, there was no need to consider the convenience of notching and this allowed us to do what we could to increase compliance. We knew that the 4HB training program was challenging enough and we didn’t need to make it any tougher by increasing the ‘pill burden’. Further, uncompressed ingredients turned out be important for absorption and getting the active ingredients into your body faster.


One great advantage of tablets is the ability to use different binders or densities to create a "time-release" product. Experienced manufacturers who know what they're doing can expertly produce vitamin tablets that release into the body over several hours. Adding an enteric coating will slow down absorption even more by protecting the pill from stomach acid. If a tablet seems too small to hold all the ingredients it claims on the label, it might be because its been compressed so hard that it could take several hours to fully dissolve. Even well-known brands such as Centrum are notorious for not fully dissolving before they... exit the system.

Capsules are appropriate when you want to be sure that you're absorbing all the ingredients or want to spike your bloodstream with a particular ingredient. Capsules are designed to dissolve within minutes of swallowing and deliver their ingredients all at once.

In our case, using capsules for PAGG was a no-brainer. The dosing schedule for PAGG is with meals. The logic behind this is that you want peak the levels of the active ingredients while digesting a meal so you can take advantage of the increased insulin sensitivity when it matters most, while all those nutrients are hitting your bloodstream. Extending the release of ALA by using tablets would be fine if you were only after the anti-oxidant benefits, but you're probably taking PAGG to alter your body composition.


Tablets have the option of being produced with a variety of coatings. This coating is applied as a thin film around the tablet. This is perfectly acceptable for ingredients that are hardy and degrade very slowly. Capsules provide superior protection of ingredients. Hard gelatin capsules act as an oxygen and light barrier.

With our PAGG stack, we knew from the beginning that capsules were the only delivery method suitable for the ingredients involved. Alpha lipoic acid breaks down when exposed to air and light. Aside from looking great (in our humble opinion), we chose the opaque colored capsules specifically for their superior protective capabilities over tablets.


It's no secret that tablets are cheaper than capsules. By producing a supplement as a tablet, if it's appropriate, the producer can save some money.

For our PAGG stack, it really wasn’t a decision at all. We set out to make the best PAGG stack possible and it was obvious that tablets were not the way to go.


So which is better, capsules or tablets? The context is everything when trying to answer that question. If your goals are to increase compliance, getting the supplement into your system quickly, and protect the ingredients then capsules are the obvious choice. We’ve never considered using tablets, because with the PAGG stack, you want all of these things. Pareto Nutrition uses only the best capsules on the market, made by the leading manufacturer Capsugel.

To try the best PAGG stack in the world, visit

[1] Sherman, Richard A. "Pill Burden, Compliance, and Hyperphosphatemia in Dialysis Patients" Nephrology. 2005;2(1)

[2] Povlin Research Group, "Consumer Preference for Solid Oral Sosage Forms", Commisioned by Capsugel. 1997

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  • Very good answer.

    says Diponkar das dipu

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