Updated 7 December 2021

How are Vitamin Supplements Made? 

 “All those vitamins aren’t to keep death at bay; they’re to keep deterioration at bay.”  
- Jeanne Moreau, French Actress 

 

Taking vitamins has never been so popular. The Council for Responsible Nutrition reports in their 2021 survey that four out of every five Americans take a dietary supplement. Have you ever wondered what is in those little pills, or how vitamins are made? 

 

What are Vitamins? 

When people say vitamins, they are referring to vitamin and mineral supplements. Consumption of vitamins, major minerals, and trace minerals is required for optimal health. Eating a varied, healthy diet provides essential nutrients to keep the body functioning at its best. 

Vitamins are organic and are made by living things (plants, animals, and fish). Minerals are inorganic and are found in soil and transported in water. Plants absorb minerals. Animals take in minerals by eating or drinking minerals directly or eating plants or other animals. 

Vitamins made of

Vitamin supplements (capsules, powders, gummies, etc.) supplement the diet. They contain a little power pack of essential vitamins and minerals in concentrations at or near the recommended daily amounts set by the Food and Nutrition Board. 

Vitamins are not only for humans. According to Grand View Research, the pet vitamins market expects to grow at a 5.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next seven years. Pet owners increasingly see their pets as part of the family and want to keep them healthy and active. They want better tasting and more effective natural solutions for their pet’s health. 

 

Where are Vitamins Made? 

Most generally, vitamin supplements are made in batches in manufacturing facilities both in the US and abroad. Mom and Pop shops may make small production batches in the family kitchen. 

The best, high-quality supplements followed good manufacturing practices (GMP) outlined by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is important to know the FDA does not test or pre-approve any supplement. FDA inspections and enforcement only take place after filed complaints. 

Small suppliers operating out of a kitchen or supplements manufactured overseas may not meet the rigorous GMP regulations. GMP requires detailed documentation, raw ingredient purity and identity testing, training, equipment cleaning, quality control, final product nutrition testing, etc. 

 

What are Vitamin Supplements Made From? 

Vitamins in supplements are acquired naturally or synthetically.  

For example, Vitamin C can be obtained: 

  1. Naturally: Following a ‘long and arduous’ process, garnered from rose hips. (In the fall, rose hips are gathered from organic rose plants, split in half to remove the hairs and seeds, and then dried and ground into powder.)  
  2. Synthetically: Chemical synthesis of a keto acid. 

Regardless of whether a vitamin is obtained from natural sources or made synthetically, it has the same chemical makeup used by the body in the same fashion. 

 

How are Vitamin Supplements Made? 

Vitamin manufacturing starts with an idea to help relieve a medical issue or promote better health. It can be to fill nutrition gaps, support strong bones, reduce joint inflammation, or build muscle (to name a few). 

Once an idea takes shape and a target audience is determined, it is time to consider the supplement ingredients and form. Vitamins come in pills, capsules, tablets, gummies, powders, and liquids. Each supplement form has a slightly different manufacturing process.  

Vitamin Manufacturer

Since Origin Nutraceutical specializes in powder mixes and capsules, this article focuses on manufacturing these two forms. 

 

Research and Development (R&D) 

Tinkering, decisions, and final supplement formulation (recipe) happen in the early phases of supplement manufacturing. For powder mixes, product taste can make or break the supplement. 

Decisions include: 

  1. Ingredient sourcing (natural, synthetic, vegan, organic, kosher, halal, etc.), 
  2. For powders, the flavoring and sweetener, 
  3. The need for binders, fillers, or flow agents for smooth product manufacturing, 
  4. Packaging, 
  5. Labeling, and 
  6. Final product cost. 

 

Raw Materials/Ingredients 

According to GMP, all dietary supplement raw materials must have documented identity and purity testing. Before manufacturing, raw materials must be subject to micro-bacterial testing. 

 

Granulation/Pre-Blend 

For complete and even mixing, individual ingredients must be uniform particle sizes especially, when encapsulating. Pre-blending, or mixing, accomplishes this. If needed, fillers like maltodextrin and microcrystalline cellulose are added.  

Wet granulation can be employed to reduce particle size. After adding various cellulose particles, the individual ingredient mixture is wetted, dried, then ran through a mil. The mill grinds the dried clumps into the desired particle size. 

  

Measuring/Mixing/Testing 

At this point, it is time to follow R&D’s formula. Trained employees measure each supplement ingredient by weight and add it to a mixer. In a manufacturing facility, mixers are large, holding over 15 cu ft. 

Mixing and Blending

Little doors at various depths and sides of the mixer allow product sampling. Samples are taken at all locations at different mixing times to determine when the product has been thoroughly mixed. For thorough mixing, some ingredients, especially those in relatively small volumes, are best added later in the mixing process. 

Product mixing takes 15-30 minutes. Once testing shows the product is thoroughly mixed, it is poured into a hopper for packaging for powder mixes or encapsulating for capsules. 

 

Encapsulation/Inspection 

A capsule is a small, digestible hard or soft container made from gelatin material, either collagen (animal) or cellulose (plant). 

The encapsulating machine separates the capsules with the fatter section set vertically upright, ready to be filled. A measured portion of the powdered mix is released into the open bottom half and settled with tiny tapping pins. Then the thinner section of the capsule is pushed down into the filled bottom. 

Physical inspection removes capsules that are too long, split, or dimpled. Capsules are circulated through a brush to polish them and remove vitamin powder dust from the exterior. And now they are ready for bottling. 

 

Packaging/Labeling 

Computerized machines do the packaging and labeling. 

Powdered supplements can be packaged in bulk plastic jars for multiuse or single-use stick packs or pouches. 

Packaging

Capsules can be bottled in plastic bottles by an exact number count. They can also be packaged in single-use sachets containing 1-3 capsules. 

Jars and bottles are sealed, capped, and labeled. Stick packs, pouches, and sachets are pre-printed with the label and sealed after filling. The FDA requires supplement labels to contain: 

  1. Name of the dietary supplement (identity) 
  2. How much is in the container (net quantity) 
  3. Nutrition labeling 
  4. Ingredient list 
  5. Name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor 

 

Origin Nutraceutical 

With the popularity of supplements to boost health, there has never been a better time to work with a qualified supplement manufacturer to develop your custom formula. 

If you have an idea, Origin Nutraceutical wants to hear it. If you have additional questions, we want to answer them. After all, customer service is the Origin of success. 

With our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, we are ready to work with you. Contact us today to get your supplement rolling. 

 

 By: Jae O. Haroldsen 

The content of Origin Nutraceutical’s website is for information only, not advice or guarantee of outcome. Information is gathered and shared from reputable sources; however, Origin Nutraceutical is not responsible for errors or omissions in reporting or explanation. No individuals, including those taking Origin Nutraceutical products, should use the information, resources or tools contained within to self-diagnosis or self-treat any health-related condition. Origin Nutraceutical gives no assurance or warranty regarding the accuracy, timeliness or applicability of the content. 

 

Sources: 

“How Products are Made: Vitamins.” Madehow.com. http://www.madehow.com/Volume-3/Vitamin.html 

“CRN Reveals Initial Data from 2021 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements.” Council for Responsible Nutrition. 2021. https://www.crnusa.org/newsroom/crn-reveals-initial-data-2021-consumer-survey-dietary-supplements 

Gavin, Mary. “Vitamins and Minerals.” Kids Health. 2021. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/vitamins-minerals.html 

“Multivitamin/mineral Supplements.” NIH. 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/MVMS-Consumer/ 

Pennington, Amy. “How to: Harvest Rose Hips and Dry for Recipes.” 2014. https://www.amy-pennington.com/blog/harvest-rose-hips 

Pet Supplements Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Pet Type (Dogs, Cats), By Distribution Channel (Offline, Online), By Region (North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Central & South America), And Segment Forecasts, 2021 – 2028. Grand View Research. 2020. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/pet-supplements-market 

 

Prakash, Ajay et al. “Are your capsules vegetarian or nonvegetarian: An ethical and scientific justification.” Indian journal of pharmacology vol. 49,5 (2017): 401-404. doi:10.4103/ijp.IJP_409_17 

“General Dietary Supplement Labeling Guide.” FDA. 2005. https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplements-guidance-documents-regulatory-information/dietary-supplement-labeling-guide-chapter-i-general-dietary-supplement-labeling