Since the introduction of vapes human creativity has gone to work, and other uses for the vapes have been created. The latest trend to hit the market are vapes designed to deliver vitamins to the body.
Vitamin vapes can deliver just one or a mixture of different vitamins to the user. Vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E and others can now all be taken in by breathing a mist, but is it really effective, or is this a fad with no positive benefits?
The Case in Favor
Christina Pirello, a health expert and best-selling author, is in favor of vaping vitamins. A vegan, she requires B12 injections each month. Her vitamin vape is a way to supplement in between injections. However, she sees vaping as a possible alternative to B12 shots, since not everyone has access to B12 injections and may prefer the vaping to capsules.
There is no question that vaping vitamins could be convenient. You can do it in the car on the way to work if you don’t have time for a healthy breakfast, for instance. Many people who don’t eat meat need extra vitamins, and there are even some who are on all meat diets and will require vitamin supplements to give them what their diet cannot.
But is it safe? And is it effective?
Many health experts point out that there is a paucity of data on the topic of the safety and efficacy of heating vitamins and inhaling them.
Dr. Albert A. Rizzo, a senior adviser to the American Lung Association, was agnostic on the health benefits of vaping vitamins. "I don't think there is any research that shows these are effective and unfortunately there's no research that shows it's definitely ineffective or harmful – which is what we need for any product that’s vaped or inhaled into the lungs.”
Dr. Roger Clemens, associate director of the regulatory science program at USC School of Pharmacy, has also remained neutral on the issue. “I did this work for 40 years, and I’m not aware of anybody doing inhalation safety perspective research,” he said.
The Other Side
Others take a more skeptical stance, like Dr. Eric presser, a thoracic surgeon and associate professor with the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine. “It’s all a marketing ploy since most vitamins are heat sensitive and the amount actually absorbed by the body is negligible,” he said.
Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior scientific adviser at the American Lung Association, agrees. “It’s a marketing ploy because the implication is that the stuff is healthy.”
Many studies have found that even orally ingesting vitamins has little to no benefit. They find that taking multivitamins does not reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline or early death. Some experts insist that the best and perhaps only way to get the vitamins you need is to eat the right balance of foods.
“In the setting of a healthy, well-balanced diet, there really isn’t even an indication for most people to take multivitamins,” said Dr. Adam Lackey, chief of thoracic surgery at Staten Island University Hospital in Staten Island, New York.
Others have pointed out that while vitamins are healthy and essential, heating them in oil can produce new products not present in the original. Inhaling these new substances may not be safe. Said Dr. Rizzo, “The concern with anything that we vape, whether there’s nicotine or not, is that we really don’t know a whole lot about what happens when chemicals are heating up and inhaled through the device into the lungs. We can’t say that there aren’t other particle and chemicals that are getting inhaled, and there’s no answer at this point in time.”
There are some reasons to believe that inhaling vitamins simply cannot be effective. In the case of B12, for instance, specific receptors in the stomach are needed to take B12 into the body and make use of it. Inhaling the B12 and going straight for the bloodstream skips this process and most likely renders the B12 worthless for the body.
“When people talk about inhaling B12, they should understand that there is a protein produced by cells in the stomach that is necessary for absorption of B12,” said Dr. Presser.
Still, companies are standing behind their product. Some point to a few studies that might indicate some benefit from vaping vitamins, and people like Christina Pirello stand by them.
The choice to vape vitamins or not is up to the individual. Every decision should be an informed one, however, and part of the problem of vaping vitamins is that there is not a lot of information. The heat sensitivity of vitamins and necessity of processing them in the stomach might indicate that we must get our vitamins the old-fashioned way. However, there do not seem to be a lot of studies confirming or denying this supposition.
The debate will likely continue until some real science can be brought to bear on the topic.