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I’ve Spent the Last Week Vaping My Vitamins

This means that my lungs — and the rest of me — have never been healthier, right?

I’m starting to worry about developing fine lines around my mouth. I’ve bummed plenty of cigarettes and smoked countless joints during the last few years of my young life, but even my passionate marijuana habit has never meant sucking on a blunt all day (except for that one brief period in college). But now, as I juggle too many vapes at once, I’m wondering if all of my allegedly healthier inhaling is going to crack the precious skin around my lips because of the sheer frequency with which I’m posturing the area to vape.

I have four vapes in total:

  1. My THC vape — for partying, even while alone.
  2. My CBD vape — for relaxing, even while working.
  3. My nicotine vape (aka Juul) — for satisfying my oral fixation during TV time, even while watching something engrossing enough that I shouldn’t be thinking about my oral fixation.
  4. My B12 vitamin vape — for something to make me healthy and supposedly limit the damage of the three aforementioned vapes.

The vitamin vape is the new kid on the block. And while many brands exist, no type appears to be as popular as the B12 variety, which exists in different forms created by a slew of companies promoting it as an effective way to boost your B12 intake (and thus your energy, productivity, digestive health, etc). Personally, I’ve been trying the VITAMINVAPE (“A Better Way To B”) and Breathe B12 (“A New Way To Take Your Vitamin B12”), which purport to use science to back their claims that “inhaling B12 can be more effectively absorbed than pill and sublingual forms.”

But not all science is good science. Or at least, real science. And so, I consulted Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, for her insights into the potential nutritional benefits of inhaling B12 as smoke. Spoiler alert: There aren’t any.

“I’m not surprised to find vaporizers targeting vitamin markets because health and wellness are big money,” Hunnes tells me. “This is a multi-billion dollar industry, and so, why not try to get in on it with a different sort of ‘edge’? But as far as I know, we cannot breathe in our vitamins and actually utilize them in any meaningful sort of way.

“I just cannot imagine that there are any health benefits to vaping,” she continues. “Unknown chemicals in the vapors may be dangerous, carcinogenic, caustic and do who knows what to our lungs and their very delicate structures. Why take a chance when we know that you should be absorbing your vitamins either from food or a supplement? That’s the point of our digestive systems.”

Her stance doesn’t change when I tell her about the scientific studies quoted by the vitamin vape purveyors. “I’m working at an academic medical center and was unable to open or review any of the three academic articles they cite from 50 years ago, and we have subscriptions to almost every academic journal. So I’m not sure about these citations since I’m unable to open them and cannot refute or verify their claims.

“That said, the amount of vitamin B12 we need in a day is minute. Plus, we can easily get it from food (for non-vegetarians) or from a supplement pill. I’d never then give my child (or myself) a vaped vitamin. I’d take a pill or get it from supplemented food. For example, the almond and soy milks I drink are both fortified with half of the daily need for vitamin B12. I know this because I’m vegan and had my doctor check my B12 levels recently and I’m not deficient.”

Overall, she adds, “It’s extremely uncommon for the average American to be B12 deficient. It’s even rare for a vegan to be B12 deficient, so to ‘sell’ B12 is nonsense. Anyone who eats any animal products won’t be B12 deficient.”

The lesson here? I should probably forget about those lines around my lips and start worrying about my lungs.