B12 Injection Costs May Be Lower Than You Think
Medically reviewed by Leann Poston, M.D. on 9/29/20
It is simple to determine how much an oral vitamin B12 supplement costs because they are usually available at local pharmacies and are clearly labeled with prices; however, knowing a B12 injection cost can be difficult as it varies depending on the source and whether or not you are having it administered at an office or home. When discussing cost, it is also important to fully understand what vitamin B12 is, how important it is to the body, and how effective and necessary treatment is to cure a deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is one of the most necessary vitamins known to humankind. Without it, we just do not function properly. For those deficient in vitamin B12, their quality of life can be greatly impacted by its absence. However, with many safe and effective treatment methods, treating vitamin B12 deficiency is manageable and economical. When considering the B12 injection cost, it is important to know all of your options and to determine which course of treatment and overall cost works best for you and your budget.
Vitamin B12 is Necessary
Vitamin B-12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin derived from animal-sourced foods, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and dairy products. For those following vegan and vegetarian diets, fortified cereals and other foods can be good sources of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential and necessary to the function of all cells within the body. One of the most structurally complex vitamins, it aids in the function of red blood cell growth in the bone marrow, is essential to DNA synthesis, and is included in the metabolic functions of every cell within the human body.
Yes, it’s true – vitamin B12 is pretty impressive. Without it, or without an adequate amount, our bodies do not function nearly as well as they should, and this can cause many problems. Vitamin B12 deficiency affects the central nervous system, red blood cell count, and even your mental health. Luckily, in today’s world, vitamin B12 deficiency is somewhat uncommon in healthy individuals that live in developed countries and have access to suitable food sources. However, there are still many people who suffer from the side effects of vitamin B12 deficiency. While it isn’t always easy to diagnose, experts estimate that 1.5% to 15% of the general population suffers from a vitamin B12 deficiency. Because there is no explicit testing for vitamin B12 and symptoms caused by the deficiency can be attributed to many other things, deficiencies can go untreated for a long time.
Determining if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency can be difficult, but a good place to start is determining whether or not you are consuming enough vitamin B12 in your diet daily.
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The Recommended Dosage
Most people who consume an omnivorous diet can source enough vitamin B12 through the foods they eat. The recommended daily dose of vitamin B12 depends on a couple of different factors such as gender, age, and unique health situation. Below is a list of the typical recommended daily intake (RDI) for these groups:
- Infants up to age 6 months: 0.4 mcg
- Babies age 7-12 months: 0.5 mcg
- Children age 1-3 years: 0.9 mcg
- Kids age 4-8 years: 1.2 mcg
- Children age 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
- Teens age 14-18: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg per day if breastfeeding)
- Adults: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg per day if breastfeeding) (NIH, n.d.)
It is important to point out that adults over the age of 50 are much more susceptible to a vitamin B12 deficiency, as the body naturally makes less stomach acid as you get older and this creates an issue with absorbing the B12 from foods. Up to 20% of adults over the age of 50 do not have the optimal level of vitamin B12 in their blood which usually requires that they consume more fortified foods or take some form of supplements (Hunt et al., 2014).
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How to Know if You Are Deficient in Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be detrimental to the health of those suffering from this condition. Because vitamin B12 is involved in so many systems within the body, there are a lot of risk factors and causes associated with a vitamin B12 deficiency. While most healthy individuals within the United States are not deficient in vitamin B12, it is important to note that there are individual groups that are at an increased risk of suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency. Some of these groups include:
- Adults over 50
- Those with low gastric intrinsic factor
- Those with a low amount of stomach acid
- Those taking certain medications
- Gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease and celiac disease
- Those who have had weight loss surgery, bowel resection, or surgery on another part of the digestive tract
- Those who take metformin and acid-reducing medications
- Those with specific genetic mutations, such as MTHFR, MTRR, and CBS
- Those who regularly consume alcoholic beverages
Aside from determining whether or not you fit into one of the higher-risk groups mentioned above, it is also incredibly important to keep an eye out for potential symptoms and warning signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. Because vitamin B12 in a part of many systems within the human body, symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can differ greatly. Additionally, these symptoms can occur gradually, building up over time. These two factors make diagnosing a vitamin B12 deficiency difficult. People are more likely to seek treatment for other conditions as the symptoms for vitamin B12 deficiency are commonly mistaken for other conditions.
Some, but not all of the symptoms associated with vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Tinnitus – ringing in your ears
- Numbness, tingling, and pain
- The weakness of legs, arms, trunk
- Impaired vibration – position sense
- Abnormal reflexes
- Unsteady or abnormal gait
- Ataxia (Neurological disorder affecting balance, coordination, and speech)
- Balance problems
- Difficulty walking
- Restless legs
- Visual disturbances / decreased-blurred vision / damage of optic nerve
- Forgetfulness, memory loss
- Dementia / intellectual deterioration
- Impaired fine motor coordination
- Muscular spasticity
- Bladder or bowel incontinence
- Impaired pain perception
- Nocturnal cramping
- Disturbance in taste and smell
- Optic atrophy
- Post-natal depression
- Memory loss
- Suicidal ideation
- Personality changes
- Inappropriate sexual behavior
- Violent/aggressive behavior
- Schizophrenic symptoms
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in taste, smell, vision, and sensory/motor function which can be mistaken for psychiatric problems
- Loss of appetite/weight loss or anorexia
- Epigastric pain (poor digestion, bloated feeling after eating small or normal-sized meals)
- IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome
- Dry cracked corners of the mouth
- Premature greying
- Glossitis – swollen / sore tongue, geographic tongue
- Poor wound healing
Knowing the warning signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency is crucial to starting a conversation with your healthcare provider and seeking the proper course of treatment to increase vitamin B12 levels within the blood. As many of these symptoms can be attributed to many other ailments and conditions, it is important to take stock of whether or not your symptoms are improving with treatment for other conditions. If they are not subsiding, it is possible that vitamin B12 deficiency is the cause, and you should consult with your doctor as soon as possible.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Treatments
There are a few options to treat vitamin B12 deficiency. Supplements are given in an oral form, intramuscular injections, or intravenous injections. The two most commonly used for individuals with a B12 deficiency are oral supplements and B12 injections. To determine which is best for your condition, you should always consult with your doctor and figure out what works best for your situation and lifestyle.
Oral B12 supplements are easily available at your local pharmacy and come in many different doses. B12 injections are available through a health care provider or can be administered by yourself at home.
There are four main forms, called vitamers, of vitamin B12. They are present in different treatments and, while they all act the same within the body, they represent different functions of the nutrient. These forms include:
- Methylcobalamin, an active form of B12 that works with several enzymes to create amino acids, produce red blood cells, repair DNA, and assist with other essential physiological processes. This form of B12 is typically administered through injections and oral supplements.
- Adenosylcobalamin is very similar to methylcobalamin and typically reacts the same in the body. This form of a B12 supplement is very hard to find because the molecule is unstable, thus making it harder to synthesize.
- Hydroxycobalamin is a natural type of vitamin B12 that is produced by bacteria in the digestive tract. Sourced from food, this form of B12 can be engineered in a lab but isolating it from test cultures. It is easily converted into the body and is the generic form of injectable B12 shots. This form of B12 is also used to treat cyanide poisoning through an intravenous injection.
- Cyanocobalamin is an artificial form of B12 that contains an inconsequential amount of cyanide – meaning it does not harmfully affect or negatively impact the human body. Cyanocobalamin is the most predominant form of oral, intramuscular, and intravenous B12 supplements.
B12 Injection Cost vs. B12 Oral Supplement Cost
It is common for those seeking vitamin B12 deficiency to have questions and concerns regarding the cost of supplements. Health care can be a necessity, but great financial stress and the B12 injection costs compared to the oral supplement cost are a factor contemplated by many. The method of treatment is determined by lifestyle as well as the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency. For example, those who do not receive enough vitamin B12 from their diet can usually maintain the proper levels with oral supplements. However, those with anemia or who do not have enough stomach acid to breakdown the vitamin within the digestive tract must use injections as a form of treatment.
It can be difficult to determine what the B12 injection cost is without research but figuring out the cost of an oral B12 supplement is fairly simple because they are available in retail locations. If you and your doctor determine that you are able to treat your deficiency with a vitamin B12 oral supplement, you can expect to pay anywhere from $7.80 to $40 at a retail pharmacy. The price is dependent on brand, dose, and count. Oral supplements must be taken daily to maintain optimal vitamin B12 levels within the blood.
A B12 injection can cost more than some oral supplements; however, you need them less often. For example, B12 injections cost anywhere from $20 to upwards of $100. The cost greatly depends on your insurance coverage and where you are going to have a shot administered. If you administer your own shots, the B12 injection cost is usually around $27 per vial, and many affordable injection kits that include alcohol wipes and syringes are available for about $30. Usually, B12 injections are administered monthly as a form of treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the associated B12 injection costs?
The associated vitamin B12 injection costs are similar to the costs of oral supplements in regard to scheduling a doctor’s appointment and paying the out of pocket copay. The difference in the associated B12 injection costs is the cost of supplies. However, this can be different for each person as some insurance providers may cover more costs than others.
Can I get vitamin B12 supplements without a prescription?
You are able to purchase oral vitamin B12 supplements at your local pharmacy without a prescription; however, the B12 solutions used for injections require a prescription.
If you and your doctor have determined that you have a vitamin B12 deficiency and that the best treatment option is to administer vitamin B12 injections, then it is time to start looking for a high-quality, trusted B12 injection solution.
We recommend starting your search at Invigor Medical. This trustworthy, high-quality, United States pharmacy produces a superior methylcobalamin supplement that can be easily ordered online with the proper prescription.
To learn more about Invigor Medical and how it can treat your possible B12 deficiency visit: https://invigormedical.com/
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.
- National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Vitamin B12. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/#en85
- Hunt, A., Harrington, D., & Robinson, S. (2014). Vitamin B12 deficiency. BMJ 2014;349:g5226 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g5226 (Published 4 September 2014)