Halal vitamins are vitamins that follow the Islamic guidelines for halal foods. Making halal vitamins means knowing the source of the ingredients and how they were processed. One of the primary reasons for a vitamin to be non-halal is the inclusion of gelatin rendered from animals such as pigs that are strictly forbidden. Although many companies make an effort to use only Quran-permissible products in their halal vitamins, unless they are certified, they cannot be guaranteed to be halal.
The rules of a halal diet are spelled out in detail in the Quran. The book says there are certain animals considered to be unclean or unhealthy and, because of this, are forbidden to be consumed in any form. In non-Muslim industrial countries, where halal diets are not as widespread, the source of many seemingly harmless ingredients is overlooked.
The gelatin used as an emulsifier in many types of vitamins and other pills can be rendered from different parts of pigs or other halal-forbidden animals that are inexpensive and widely available to manufacturers. The same type of emulsifier can be extracted from halal sources, such as soy and some other plants. There are no existing regulations about the origins of these ingredients in many countries, so it can be difficult to know their exact source.
Other parts of vitamins that could cause problems include vitamins A and D. These vitamins are sometimes fortified with Polysorbate 80, another emulsifier that can be derived from animal fats. The problem with this is that the source animal is often unknown, meaning that — unless certified — there is no guarantee they are halal vitamins. It is rare to fortify these vitamins with animal fat anymore, though.
Some liquid vitamins are expressly forbidden, because they contain small amounts of alcohol. These can include some over-the-counter children’s vitamins. Liquid vitamins also have many stabilizers, colorants and other ingredients that could have been extracted from so-called unclean animal parts or fats.
There are a great many ingredients that could be included in over-the-counter vitamins that are not required to be listed on the packaging, so just knowing which ingredients are halal is not always enough. Many organizations will certify, however, that vitamins are permissible and that all ingredients and the manufacturing process are halal. As of 2011, there are several commercially available halal vitamins in production around the world.