Do you even Juul, bro? A phrase you might hear overhear at a high school football game or walking past a pack of Scumbros. For a quick explainer on Juuls, they are e-cigarettes that deliver nicotine in flavors like crème brûlée and cucumber. An atomizer (heating coil) heats the liquid nicotine (e-juice) to a boiling point that turns it into a vapor that's inhaled through the tip of the device.
They also boast the nicotine of two packs of cigarettes and in 2017 the e-cigarette market expanded 40 percent to $1.16 billion, with growth primarily driven by Juul.
The hype and attention given to vaping over the last year or so opened the door for other businesses to deliver their products through this same process. These products are much less addictive—in fact, they actually have a wellness spin. Meet vitamin vapes, real e-cigs that mist B12 or other vitamin concoctions instead of nicotine. VitaminVape, which delivers B12, and VitaStick, which contains vitamin A, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E and CoQ10, were the first two "healthy vapes" on the growing market that popped up a few years ago.
Recently, a new wellness vaping brand line launched called breathe. It’s a vape that mists vitamin B12 and is “scientifically” proven to increase B12 absorption into your body. Breathe's "e-juice" includes B12, vegetable glycerin, deionized water and organic fruit flavor extract.
While breathe’s website notes a few studies that aim to prove inhaling vitamins is more effective than ingesting, I was a bit skeptical.
B12 is the vitamin that produces red blood cells in your DNA. Our body naturally creates the vitamin but if you suffer from a deficiency you have to look for B12 alternatives in your diet (meat and eggs are high in B12) or supplement with shots and capsules. You can also add B12 to your routine if you don't have a deficiency as it promotes bone health and studies suggest it improves mood and symptoms of depression. With all this in mind, vaping B12 sounded like a good idea but I still was hesitant.
Dr. Rizzo shared the same concerns as I did. Can vaping vitamins be that good for you and where was the science behind this?
“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 particles and chemicals that are getting inhaled, and there's no answer at this point in time,” he says. While the effects of nicotine are clear, it does seem worrisome to inhale vapor of any sort directly into your lungs without knowing the long-term effects of that action.
However, Dr. Rizzo didn’t discredit inhaling B12 or other vitamins completely. Just because we don’t know the long-term effects of a vitamin-based vape, doesn’t mean they are necessarily bad. When asked directly if vaping B12 could be harmful, he stated that no definitive answer existed. “The vitamin B12 is not harmful, I just don’t know how effective it is and the big concern is the use of a vaping device—we don’t know any long-term effects,” explained Dr. Rizzo. “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. Rizzo made it very clear that he doesn’t advise against it exactly, and pointed to inhalers for asthma as something ingested through the lungs that works. But, as a physician, he would still recommend oral B12 medication.
So, should you completely rule out vape vitamin? No, but you should treat it like a trend. It might work for you but it’s not a medically sound alternative to meet your B12 demands.
Christina Pirello, a health expert and best-selling cookbook author, uses breathe on a regular basis. Because Pirello lives a vegan lifestyle she regularly gets B12 injections a couple of times a month. In between shots and while traveling she’ll grab her diffuser when her energy is low or she’s had a tough workout. She also notes that not everyone has access to B12 shots so inhaling provides an alternative method to capsules and shots.
The best advice for vaping vitamins is to look at new wellness tools with a critical eye. Do your research and speak with your doctor to figure out the best option for you. Lastly, consider if you really want to be the sort of person who vapes.