From Devin Houston, Ph.D.
"Why do you have to use fillers?"
We often hear this question from consumers eager to
learn about enzyme supplements.
Fillers are used in encapsulated products for
several reasons, and it ultimately depends on
the manufacturer as to what filler is used,
though the manufacturer's customer can also
have an influence on the choice (as HNI
The manufacturer of our current
enzyme line needs a small amount of filler
that has a certain level of "oiliness", so
that the encapsulation machines work better.
The amount of oil needed is very small. A
number of materials could be used: mineral
oil, vegetable oils, or plant products with a
certain amount of natural oiliness.
Currently, their filler of choice is rice
bran, which is actually a good filler. The
rice bran used is certified gluten-free, and
the oil contains tocotrienols (which is very
nutritious). Rice bran is digestible, which
is a big plus.
Due to some customers having
issues with the rice bran, we asked our
manufacturer to find another filler suitable
for our needs. As a result, HNI has a
separate line of products using
cellulose (from spruce tree bark) combined
with a tiny amount of medium chain
triglyceride oil (MCT oil) derived from
coconut. The amount of MCT is approximately 1
milligram per capsule. Cellulose is inert,
not digestible, but gives a "cleaner" look to
the capsule contents (whitish vs. brown
color). Cellulose won't dissolve in water,
so you may see it as sediment if put in
liquids. The enzymes themselves readily
Another reason to use
fillers is to achieve consistent capsule
weights, so that dosing is consistent from
capsule to capsule.
There are manufacturers who do not have to
use any extraneous material as filler during
the encapsulation process, and some enzyme
companies tout their products as being free
of filler. However, this is not quite true,
and depends on your definition of "filler".
And this is where we touch upon one of the
"secrets" of the supplement industry.
all powder supplements - at some point in their
manufacturing - go from a liquid form to a
solid form. To do this, the liquefied
supplement is sprayed onto a very thin film
of maltodextrin, which is referred to as a
"carrier". This is true of enzymes as well.
The carrier also serves to stabilize the
enzyme activity so that it remains effective
even after months of storage.
which company you buy your enzymes from,
there will be maltodextrin present. Sometimes,
companies will dilute an enzyme to
a smaller activity level by adding more
maltodextrin. Since this is a component of
the enzyme, it is often not considered a
"filler" in the strict sense of the word.
But it actually is.
So what does all this mean? Any enzyme will
have some kind of filler, whether it's
maltodextrin, rice bran, or cellulose. No
one filler will please everyone, but a good
formula can minimize the amount of all
filler. HNI does this by using the most
concentrated enzymes available. This
decreases the ratio of maltodextrin to
enzyme. Also, we use enzyme as filler as
much as possible. We put together formulas
so that a capsule is filled as much as
possible with extra enzyme, so that only 1 to
35 mg of filler need to be used, depending on
In the near future, HNI will be introducing
two new products that will contain no rice
bran or cellulose, only enzymes. The
manufacturer of these products does not need
the "oiliness" for good encapsulation. I
have formulated these new products to use all
available capsule space with enzyme only,
meaning that the maltodextrin present on the
enzymes is the only other excipient
We are always striving to deliver
the best products to our customers with as
much information as possible. We hope our
honesty and forthrightness is
Till next time!