B12 Injection Costs May Be Lower Than You Think
Published: Sep 8, 2020

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 the cost of a B12 injection can be difficult as it varies depending on the source and whether or not you are having it administered at an office or at home.

Many people are convinced of the benefits of B12 injections, but they may be concerned about the costs. How much does a B12 injection cost? Is there any way to make this treatment more cost-effective?

There are different forms of B12

When talking about B12 injection costs, it’s important to understand that not all B12 is the same. There are actually a few different forms of this vitamin.

  • Methylcobalamin is a natural form of vitamin B12, commonly found in many animal foods. It can also be used in injections and supplements.
  • Adenosylcobalamin is another natural form that’s found in the body. However, because this molecule is somewhat more unstable, it’s more difficult to synthesize and is not generally used in injections and supplements.
  • Hydroxocobalamin is a highly active form of vitamin B12. This molecule is naturally formed within your digestive tract when bacteria act on vitamin B12. It can also be synthesized in a laboratory using bacteria. Hydroxocobalamin is injected intravenously to treat cyanide poisoning; the molecule soaks up the cyanide and allows it to be excreted through the urine. It can also be found in some B12 injections.
  • Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of vitamin B12. This type is most commonly used for fortifying foods and can also be found in many injections and supplements. Cyanocobalamin is generally the least expensive form of B12, primarily because it’s the most shelf-stable form.

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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 recommended daily intake (RDI) for these groups:

  • 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, which 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 supplement.

B12 injections may be administered at home or in an office

An important factor in the overall B12 injection cost is where the injections are administered. Some people get their B12 shots in a medical office or a pharmacy. This is a more expensive option because you have to pay for a health professional to give your injection. Patients must also consider the inconvenience associated with scheduling the injections and traveling to the appointments. For some patients, this can be a significant problem.

However, many people don’t realize that you don’t actually have to go anywhere for your B12 injections. It’s very safe to give yourself B12 injections at home. The process is simple to learn and doesn’t require medical training. This can reduce the costs associated with B12 injections and may bring them within reach for more people.

How do you give yourself a B12 injection?

Most of the time, a B12 injection is given intramuscularly or directly into a large muscle. In most cases, it’s better to avoid injecting B12 into a vein; this is not because it’s dangerous but because it leads to most of the B12 being lost in the urine. Injecting into the muscle is a more effective way to increase B12 levels in the body. In most cases, the best place to give yourself a B12 injection is into the large muscle on the front of the thigh. This muscle is easily accessible and is large enough to inject into easily and safely.

Steps for giving a B12 injection at home:

  1. B12 may come already pre-loaded into syringes or you may need to draw up the recommended dose into a syringe, after cleaning the top of the vial with alcohol.
  2. Clean the area to be injected using an alcohol wipe.
  3. Ensure that there are no air bubbles in the syringe.
  4. Using a quick motion, insert the needle directly through the skin at a 90-degree angle.
  5. Gently pull back on the plunger to ensure that the needle is not in a vein. If it is, then the syringe will fill with blood. If it’s in the muscle, you’ll feel some resistance when you try to pull back.
  6. If in the muscle, push the plunger to inject the vitamin.

Another option is to have a family member or friend administer your injections for you. This may be helpful for those who suffer from mobility limitations (like arthritis) or those who simply don’t like doing the injections themselves. In this case, the thigh muscle can still be used, or the upper arm or buttock are also options. The process is essentially the same as injecting yourself; it’s very easy for someone to learn to give the injections.

What is the total B12 supplement or B12 injection cost?

With any over-the-counter or prescription medication, it’s impossible to pinpoint the precise cost. This is because different pharmacies set their own prices for these treatments. Prices can vary significantly between different pharmacies and even from day to day at a single pharmacy. Because of this, we can only give ranges for the prices.

In general, oral B12 will tend to be cheaper than B12 injections. A bottle of B12 may cost anywhere from $7 to $40, depending on the type of B12, the dose, and the size of the bottle. By contrast, a B12 injection will usually cost between $100 and $139 in a pharmacy (CVS pharmacy) and slightly less, $90 to $120 for self-injection at home, which averages around $10-$12 per shot, although the price is sometimes even higher. Again, these prices are only estimates, and they can vary significantly.

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For those who have problems with absorbing B12 (due to lack of stomach acid, lack of intrinsic factor, or problems with the digestive tract), oral B12 may not be enough to replenish the levels of this vitamin in the body. B12 injections are generally the preferred treatment for these patients. Sometimes oral B12 is still a possibility in these cases, but the amounts taken often have to be very high in order to achieve adequate levels of B12 in the blood. This can quickly make oral B12 the more expensive option.

B12 injections do require a prescription. This means that you need to make an appointment with a doctor, and there is usually a cost associated with this. When purchasing B12 injections online, it’s important to take this into account as well. If the doctor visit is included in the cost of the injections, this will help control the overall B12 injection cost. Invigor Medical includes the cost of a medical consultation in its pricing. All medications and supplies are included, so there are no hidden fees.

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Although oral B12 supplements don’t require a prescription, it’s still best to be monitored by a doctor when taking oral B12 to ensure that you get the right dose and help watch for any potential side effects. Discussing your situation with a doctor will also allow them to consider possible alternative causes of your symptoms to ensure that you’re getting the right treatment. Avoiding the cost of the doctor’s visit by choosing oral B12 is not the ideal solution.

DISCLAIMER

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. 

Sources

Vitamin B12 deficiency – a 21st century perspective. https://www.rcpjournals.org/content/clinmedicine/15/2/145

Vitamin B12 Deficiency. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441923/

Vitamin B12: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/#en13

Low Vitamin B12 Levels: An Underestimated Cause of Minimal Cognitive Impairment and Dementia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7077099/

Vitamin B12 Supplementation: Preventing Onset and Improving Prognosis of Depression. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7688056/

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Written by Riazzudin

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