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Challenges and Opportunities to Formulate Nutraceutical Tablets Without Titanium Dioxide

March 4, 2024

In recent years, heightened consumer awareness regarding the ingredients present in dietary supplements has led to increased scrutiny of additives. In 2022, the European Union decided to ban the use of E171 (TiO2) as a food additive, more due to political and consumer groups pressure than scientifical evidence.  

In many regions globally, consumers are increasingly favoring products without TiO2, even in the absence of official bans. Consequently, manufacturers of nutritional and dietary supplements have had to promptly adjust and reformulate their offerings using TiO2-free alternatives. This shift presented numerous hurdles but also provided brand owners with opportunities for enhancement.

TiO2's Role in Tablet Coatings

Nutraceutical consumers are looking for convenience, therefore coated tablets of various colors and shades will help with their swallowability and give them ultimate experience.

For many years, TiO2 has played a vital role in tablet film coatings, primarily due to its ability to impart a bright white opacity to tablets while also offering protection against UV degradation of active ingredients. Its inclusion serves to enhance the appearance and marketability of products, while simultaneously safeguarding against light-induced degradation and damage.

Navigating the Challenge

Achieving comparable opacity to TiO2 proved to be a difficult task. A critical consideration was photostability, as exposure to light can degrade active ingredients and cause pigments to fade, thereby altering the tablet's appearance.  Another challenge was to obtain a wide range of colours and shades without TiO2.

Exploring Alternatives

Colorcon scientists have evaluated hundreds of alternative opacifiers as potential substitutes for TiO2. To this day, specific grades of calcium carbonate remain the optimal choice due to its superior light protection properties, enhancing stability and shelf life when incorporated into alternative coatings.  Rice starch comes a close second, especially for those looking for mineral free options or when pH dependant pigments are used in coatings.  More information can be found in our poster, "Development and Evaluation of a Label Friendly Film Coating System Containing Naturally Derived Opacifier."

Opportunities for Improvement

Although reformulating coatings without TiO2 presents challenges, it also presents opportunities for Nutraceutical brand owners and manufacturers. They now have the option to select coatings that can enhance the shelf life of their products or improve manufacturing efficiency. Additionally, they can choose to reformulate using colored options instead of unbranded white tablets.

Enhancing Stability

Environmental moisture poses a significant threat to the stability and efficacy of nutraceutical tablet ingredients. Film coatings play a crucial role in shielding these compounds from temperature and humidity fluctuations during storage, transportation, and repackaging. New innovations such as Nutrafinish® TiO2 free, Moisture Barrier Film coating offer an opportunity to bolster product stability in primary packaging, thereby ensuring integrity throughout use.

Boosting Productivity

Addressing productivity concerns in manufacturing processes is paramount. Nutrafinish TiO2 free, High Productivity Film Coating, stands out as an ideal solution. Its high solids and low viscosity composition facilitate coating across a broad range of process parameters using various coating equipment. This results in reduced preparation and coating times, accompanied by a premium-quality finish. Notably, application at high solids levels can yield over a 40% reduction in coating time, while the flexibility across diverse processing parameters simplifies inter-facility product transfers.

Increasing Brand Recognition

The significance of color in the design of nutraceutical tablets cannot be overstated. Color exerts a psychological influence on consumers and serves as a distinctive brand attribute. It plays a vital role consumer recognition and instils trust in a specific manufacturer or brand, which is important in the nutraceutical sector where brand loyalty is paramount for sustaining repeat business. Colorcon’s BEST®, unique tablet design service, offers manufacturers expert guidance on shape and color selection tailored to their product.

Connect with Colorcon

As consumer awareness of nutraceutical tablet ingredients continues to evolve, there is a demand for cleaner formulations without TiO2. Through the exploration of alternative ingredients and formulations, supplement manufacturers can meet this demand while using reformulation as an opportunity to improve their overall manufacturing process, enhance products appearance and branding and give the consumer an ultimate experience.

At Colorcon or elsewhere, ongoing research and innovation will continue to develop best-in-class label friendly coatings. Contact Colorcon for more information.

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