Is vaping vitamins a good idea? -…


Story at a glance

  • Vaping has received a lot of attention for its potential harmful effects to the lungs.

  • Non-nicotine wellness vaping products are on the rise.

  • Much is still unknown about these products, and the FDA issued a warning against using them.

Among the vaping trends of recent years, some people are starting to inhale wellness products — without nicotine — touted to enhance energy levels and deliver more absorbable vitamins like vitamin B12. Some claims include cancer-fighting abilities, remedies for conditions like asthma and ADHD, and even prevention of anemia. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning in late 2021 about this category of products, stating that “these claims are unproven, and the products may be ineffective, a waste of money, unsafe.” 

Vaping has received negative attention because of its potential health effects on young people, especially with companies like JUUL producing various flavors that are especially appealing to youth. 

With non-nicotine vaping, many of the concerns are similar. There’s not enough information about how these substances interact with our lung tissues when they are taken in this specific form.

“Just because it’s safe to take [vitamins] one way doesn’t mean that it’s going to be safe with another type of absorption,” said Jorge Mercado, who is a physician specializing in pulmonary medicine at NYU Langone Hospital to Inc. “The lung is not your greatest organ to actually absorb medications through.” 

There is still a lot unknown about how various substances are absorbed in the lungs and react with the cells. Studies of e-cigarettes overall have often focused on the potential harmful effects of flavorings in vape products. These health effects include cytotoxicity, or toxicity to cells, oxidative stress and inflammation. In one study of e-cigarettes and flavored vape pens, Vitamin Vape B12 produced the highest amount of reactive oxidative stress. The study also observed inflammation in lung epithelial cells and macrophages, the white blood cells that recognize and destroy microorganisms and dead cells. 

The maker of Vitamin Vape B12 also makes another vitamin B12 related vape pen: Breathe B12. FDA issued a warning to Vitamin Vape in Dec. 2021, stating that “the use of your ‘B12 VITAMINVAPE’ product raises safety concerns for the agency because the ingredients or the impurities in oral inhalation products may trigger laryngospasm or bronchospasm, may be toxic to the tissues in the upper or lower airways, or may be absorbed and exert undesirable systemic effects or organ toxicity.” 

Many wellness products like supplements and vitamins are unregulated by the FDA in part because they do not count as either food or drugs.

“When you have an unregulated industry, you don’t really know what type of absorption you have with certain substances and vitamins,” Mercado said. Being unregulated also allows companies like Vitamin Vape to enter the market without looking for FDA approval first.

In its statement, the FDA lists misleading claims the company makes on its website and also states that in this situation this product counts as a “new drug” to be regulated by the FDA, and thus needs to be approved by the FDA. Vitamin Vape could not be reached for comment.

But some of the damage may already be done or may continue to grow. Vitamin Vape continues to sell its products and has 18,000 followers on Instagram. The FDA has issued warning letters to other companies with similar products, including VitaCig, Eagle Energy, NV Nutrition and VitaStik. The companies are asked to correct any violations of the law. If they do not comply, the FDA may take enforcement action to prevent the products from getting into the hands of consumers. 

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