Vitamins have long been available as pills, powders and liquids and now Paris, France-based Le Whif has created yet another delivery option: breathable vitamins.
The concept of marketing nutrients in a breathable format was conceived of about three years ago by David Edwards, PhD, a professor of biomedical engineering at Harvard University, and the man responsible for creating inhalable insulin.
Dr. Edwards collaborated with students, designers, engineers and entrepreneurs working at ArtScience Labs (an entity centered around Le Laboratoire in Paris), and made use of particle engineering to explore the plausibility of forming natural food substances into particle sizes that were small enough to become airborne, but too large to enter the lungs. The “eating by breathing” work built upon decades of aerosol science work.
The first fruits of the research were Chocolate Le Whif, and later, Coffee Le Whif. Each of the products feature food reduced to micron size. Hundreds of milligrams of tiny food particles are then deposited into a lipstick tube-shaped, biodegradable plastic cylinder.
For dosing, the Le Whif inhaler is placed between the lips. Upon inhaling, the food particles are picked up by the air stream, enter the mouth and fall onto the tongue, delivering an experience of flavor that can be tasted without chewing and enjoyed minus consuming the calories associated with eating a piece of chocolate or drinking a cup of coffee. The coffee incarnation also delivers the same amount of caffeine one would consume if drinking an average shot of espresso.
According to the compay, Le Whif Vitamins, launched last month, operate on the same premise—they are breathed in and absorbed bucally (in the mouth), skipping the digestive tract, which lead “to a higher concentration of vitamins and supplements in the bloodstream.”
There are currently two Le Whif Vitamin products available: Antioxidant Green Tea and Age Smart Wine Tea. A representative from Le Whif told Nutraceuticals World that The Green Tea product provides “100% daily value of Vitamins C & E,” while Age Smart Wine Tea provides reseveratrol.
Le Whif Vitamins were in development for nearly a year prior to launching. The real innovation, according to Le Whif representative, Jon Staff, was reducing the particle size to the correct number of microns to render them light enough to become airborne with the breath, but heavy enough to fall on the tongue and the sides of the mouth.
Because vitamins and minerals often taste unpalatable in their natural state, Le Whif employed flavoring techniques to disguise any off tastes. “Le Whif vitamins are combined with Japanese tea flavors to cover the taste of the vitamins,” said Mr. Staff. “The Le Whif Green Tea Antioxidant tastes like green tea (think green tea ice cream) and the Age Smart tastes like wine tea.”
When asked how the Le Whif delivery method compared to vitamins in traditional pill/capsule format, Mr. Staff replied that because Le Whif Vitamins are inhaled, they are absorbed inside their mouth, “where they have more direct access to the bloodstream faster, and are not degenerated in the liver as a traditional pill would be.” He also referenced the fun factor associated with puffing on the tube, as well as the taste.
According to an article published in The Harvard Crimson
, Le Whif sold more than 60,000 tubes of its breathable chocolate in about nine months. Le Whif’s global operations manager Thomas D. Hadfield also told the publication that Le Whif had plans to launch new flavors and had hoped to produce an inhalable three-course meal in the indefinite future.