Smoking vitamins!?

I recently discovered that you can get e-cigarettes/vapors with vitamins to “boost your health”. This made me think – Can you really smoke your vitamins? Is there a health benefit to this? Or is it another health hype that is more healthy to avoid than participate in?

vitamins vapor

A few weeks ago I joined Twitter (and started a blog) partly to share my own research and partly to keep up with other’s research (I have to give huge credit to my girlfriend for convincing me and helping me get started).

I stumbled over an article from the New York Post on trendy healthy vitamin vaping which caught my eye since 1. I had never heard about it and 2. it involved vitamin B12 which I’m very interested in from a research perspective (see earlier blog post). The basic idea is to add vitamins (mainly water soluble) and other “health compounds” to the vapor-liquid which can then get vaporized and inhaled through your E-cigarettes, Vapes, E-Cigs or whatever you want to call it (cute child has many names, as we say in Danish). Apparently, these companies have been around since 2014 so maybe this is old news but keeping up with health trends, especially while doing your Ph.D. can be a bit of a hassle. Also, my girlfriend says I should avoid it since new health trends seem to cause me high blood pressure, cursing and furiously shaking of my head.

Anyway, one of my first questions when hearing about this were, can you really absorb vitamins by inhaling them? Well, I tried to find some evidence for this, and while I did find some old experiments that show that it could be possible to inhale vitamin B12 [1,2], these do not seem to be very cited suggesting that the research within this field is limited. Even though some have suggested nasal spray as a delivery method[3] as well, the reason for the limited research is probably that the absorption through the oral route is very sufficient for getting adequate amounts of vitamins (with some exceptions for older people). Furthermore, other scientists have expressed concern that there is very limited inhalation safety research which makes me think that vaping is probably not the way to go for your daily vitamin needs.

The bigger question might be whether vaping is safe at all, although it might aid in smoking cessation, to my knowledge there seems to be very little evidence on the long-term outcomes of using these[4]. Finally, some of the vapor vitamin products include very low amounts of some vitamins (e.g. 1% of recommended daily intake of vitamin C) and an oral supplement seems to be the best option if you want to get additional vitamins in addition to your dietary intake. Imagine how many times a day, you would need to puff on your vaporizer to get your daily dose!

In my opinion, research within the area of vaping (and vapor vitamins) should be conducted before widespread public use. Even though research is a very slow progress (sometimes dauntingly slow) for some things it is better to be safe than sorry. The vapor vitamins seem to be a hype with very limited benefit and potentially with harm. As always, if you suspect you have a vitamin deficiency consult your doctor to get it checked out, especially before you decide to start E-smoking.

References

[1]         Shinton NK, Singh AK. Vitamin B 12 Absorption by Inhalation. Br J Haematol 1967;13:75–9. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2141.1967.tb08696.x.

[2]         Smith FJ, Monto RW, Rebuck JW. B12 inhalation therapy in pernicious anemia. Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc 1952;64:27–39.

[3]         Kurtz S. Use of methylcobalamin nasal spray to treat disorders – Patent application 2008. https://patents.google.com/patent/US20090012039A1/en (accessed October 28, 2018).

[4]         Stratton K, Kwan LY, Eaton DL, editors. Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press; 2018. doi:10.17226/24952.

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