Vaping vitamins for a boost of energy – a hit or a health hazard?

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As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration steps up a crackdown on vaping companies in an effort to dissuade young people from using nicotine products, some companies have turned to so-called wellness vapes. be. The same goes for consumers, who have broadened their horizons to caffeine, vitamins and other substances that are not traditionally inhaled through the lungs.

But vaping your vitamins may not reap the energy needed to boost your productivity or provide other health benefits, and once again the FDA has cast a skeptical eye on the products. The wellness vaping trend has grown in popularity in recent years, touting increased focus, stronger immune function, and better sleep. These vapes have been rebranded as nutritional supplement diffusers and work the same way as other e-cigarettes, but without nicotine.

Companies such as HealthVape and Inhale Health claim to deliver your daily dose of vitamin B12, vitamin C, melatonin, and essential oils after just a few puffs from a vape. But touting the health and wellness claims of vaping vitamins is against regulations, the FDA points out. Contrary to some claims, vapes cannot fight tumors or help treat asthma, ADHD, or dementia.

The use of vaping products without nicotine is increasing. A can study from Stanford University shows that about 26% of 6,131 US respondents between the ages of 13 and 40 have used an e-cigarette product without nicotine. Seventeen percent of this cohort had used an e-cigarette without nicotine in the past 30 days, while about 12% had used one in the past week.

Jorge Mercado, a physician specializing in pulmonary medicine at NYU Langone Hospital, says more and more patients have started to educate themselves about the safety of wellness vapes. Despite their increased use, his recommendation remains constant: stay away from them.

The sprawling vitamin and supplement industry makes billions in sales each year and its global market valuation reached $151.9 billion in 2021, according to Grand View Research, a business advisory and research firm. San Francisco market. While vitamin supplements can help people address known deficiencies, some medical experts say multivitamins are a waste of money. And even, a September 2019 study examining the use of supplements found that 77% of Americans consume vitamins and other supplements.

Last December, the FDA issued a warning on some “wellness” vaping products, warning about some of the health claims being made. For example, the FDA says many products may not be as pure as they claim. And there’s no way to know exactly what’s in the product you’re inhaling.

Yet, this appears to be a market where consumers are not listening to health authorities. George Michalopoulos is the CEO of two vaping companies. He oversees Breathe B12 and Vitamin Vape, both of which sell vitamin B12 vapes – and he even has a patent for the technology. “I don’t absorb oral forms of B12,” says Michalopoulos, “so part of the reason I created the product is for myself.”

Michalopoulos says his vapes use pharmaceutical grade products and are free of propylene glycol and diacetyl – when inhaled, diacetyl (a chemical found in some e-cigarette flavors) has been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, or “lung popcorn”, a condition that involves lung scarring and inflammation.

But Michalopoulos is quick to say he can’t market his product as one that improves vitamin B12 levels, and his website confirms this. Not a single claim from Breathe B12 or Vitamin Vape about boosting vitamin B12 levels, although that hasn’t always been the case.

The FDA sent Michalopoulos a warning letter last December on the claims once presented on the website regarding the supposed efficacy of the product. Vitamin Vape was one of four companies to receive such a letter from the agency that month.

Vitamin Vape once claimed that each vaporizer contained four times the amount of vitamin B12 you would get in one shot and that it was more effective than ingesting the vitamin in tablet form. Vitamin Vape’s old science webpage also cited vitamin B12 inhalation studies done in the 1950s and 1960s. This webpage has since been removed.

Asked why people might use wellness vapes, he posits that a large group might use them as an alternative to nicotine. Michalopoulos vapes are not approved as cessation devices or as devices used by those seeking to quit smoking (think skin patches, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenges, etc.).

Michalopoulos says he was motivated to start two businesses in the same space after seeing different needs in the market. According to him, Vitamin Vape is a more affordable option than Breathe B12. He says the latter uses a higher quality form of vitamin B12.

There are four different types of vitamin B12 on the market – the most common option is cyanocobalamin, an inexpensive synthetic form that is converted to methylcobalamin in the body after being ingested. Michalopoulos says Breathe B12 uses methylcobalamin, a more expensive version of vitamin B12.

NYU Mercado Won’t Buy It: ‘Just Because It’s Safe To Take [vitamins] one way doesn’t mean it’ll be safe with another type of absorption,” says Mercado, who is also the associate section chief of the Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine Unit at NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn: “The lung is not your largest organ for actually absorbing drugs.”

Many vitamins and other substances, Mercado points out, are lipophilic — a substance that has an affinity for lipids or fats. But because the lung is not well equipped to handle lipids, the use of these products can lead to the potential development of lipoid pneumonia, a form of pneumonia that is difficult to treat because it creates bubbles in the lungs made of fat. .

Research studies suggest that flavorings found in nicotine-free vapes are believed to cause oxidative stress in the body and damage lung cells. And it’s unclear if inhaled vitamins are even absorbed into the bloodstream.

Mercado says the supplement industry remains largely unregulated, explaining that it doesn’t face the same level of scrutiny as prescription drugs. “When you have an unregulated industry, you don’t really know what kind of absorption you have with certain substances and vitamins,” he says.

Much of the resistance against e-cigarettes also focuses on industry marketing techniques, which often appeal to minors. The menu of flavors offered by some e-cigarette companies mirrors what can be found at a candy store or fruit stand, such as chewing gum or mango flavor. Some companies even offer flavors that resemble children’s cereal brands.

As more teens sought out Juul pods (disposable cartridges filled with nicotine and other flavors that can then be vaped), the company discontinued the sale of some flavored pods in 2018. In 2020, Juul banned all the sale of its mint and fruit flavored pods. . And with the recent FDA ruling in June banning Juul altogether, the trend of so-called wellness vapes could see a boost.

But that doesn’t mean he should. Those who have problems absorbing vitamins have other options, such as injections. And if you’re looking for an energy boost, but don’t want to add more pills to your routine, vitamin B12 also comes in liquid form.

Mercado points to a rule of thumb that other pulmonologists adhere to: the only thing humans can safely inhale is air.

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