Nutrition

Vitamin B12 Shots: How Much They Cost

Vitamin B12 Shots: How Much They Cost

Vitamin B12 deficiency is common, affecting about 6% of adults under the age of 60 and almost 20% of adults over the age of 60. Approximately 24% of men and 29% of women take supplemental vitamin B12. However, vitamin B12 is not easily absorbed. If you are one of the many people with vitamin B12 deficiency, vitamin B12 shots have the following potential benefits: 

  • Improved mood
  • More energy
  • More restful sleep
  • Lower risk of anemia
  • Clearer cognitive thinking
  • Better nerve and muscle function

Vitamin B12 can be consumed in your diet or supplemented via an oral pill or an injection. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for adults for vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg per day. Unless you are vegan, your diet should supply enough vitamin B12. Meats, eggs, dairy, and other animal products are rich in vitamin B12. Breakfast cereals and nutritional yeasts are also fortified with vitamin B12. 

But getting enough vitamin B12 is just the first step. The inability to absorb and process vitamin B12 can also cause a deficiency. Older adults, vegetarians, vegans, people with prolonged use of histamine H2 blockers, metformin, and proton pump inhibitors, and people with pernicious anemia or gastrointestinal disorders are at the highest risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Read more: Vitamin B12 Supplementation: An Overview

Vitamin B12 shots have many potential benefits, so the next question most people have is, “How much do vitamin B12 shots cost?”

How much are B12 shots out of pocket?

The cost of vitamin B12 depends on several factors, including:

  • The country or area of the world you live in
  • Whether you have insurance or not
  • Whether you plan to self-inject at home or have a medical professional do the injection
  • The form and strength of vitamin B12 you will be injecting

Vitamin B12 comes in two forms: methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. Methylcobalamin is the active and more easily absorbed form of vitamin B12. Cyanocobalamin is an inactive, synthetic form of vitamin B12. 

The price range for vitamin B12 varies.

  • Doctor’s office: a single injection in a doctor’s office costs between $35 and $80. There may be an additional cost for administering the shot. The cost may be much higher in private clinics, even up to $200 or more per injection. 
  • Online wellness clinic: a 10 ml vial of methylcobalamin B12 costs between $75 and $150, depending on the quantity purchased. This cost typically includes the cost of the online doctor’s visit and prescription. 
  • Online pharmacy: cyanocobalamin injections in a 10 ml vial cost around $10.00. A 25 ml vitamin B12 vial costs $90 with a drug discount card.

As with all medications, international pharmacies and unlicensed online businesses offer vitamin B12 at much lower prices and often do not require a prescription. If you choose this option, it is important to be very careful. International pharmacies are governed by the laws of the country where they are based, and they do not have to meet FDA standards. Unlicensed online pharmacies that offer vitamin B12 injections without requiring a prescription may offer products that are not as expected—for example, sending cyanocobalamin instead of the more expensive methylcobalamin. 

Are Vitamin B12 shots covered by insurance?

Vitamins are typically not covered by insurance. However, vitamin B12 injections are considered specific therapy for some conditions, such as specific anemias, gastrointestinal conditions, and neuropathies. In these cases, intramuscular vitamin B12 injections may be covered by your insurance or through Part A and Part B Medicare benefits

vitamin B12 deficiency and vial of blood

Do I need a prescription for B12 injections?

In the U.S., all B12 injections require a prescription to obtain them legally. It is important to get a full medical checkup because the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency could be caused by another medical condition. Once you start treatment, your doctor can help ensure your dosage is correct and manage any potential side effects. 

How often should you get a B12 shot?

Your doctor will discuss how often to get a vitamin B12 shot with you at your online appointment. Vitamin B12 deficiency has been traditionally treated with 1 mg intramuscular injections weekly for eight weeks, followed by 1 mg monthly injections.1 

What’s better, B12 shots or pills?

When you get a vitamin B12 shot, the B12 is put right into your muscle, where it can get into your bloodstream. But vitamin B12 that is taken by mouth must go through the stomach and be absorbed by the intestines. Vitamin B12 deficiency is often caused by problems in the digestive tract that make it hard to absorb vitamin B12. 

About half of the B12 in supplements with 1 to 2 mcg of B12 is absorbed. As B12 doses in supplements increase, the percentage absorbed decreases. For example:2 

  • Only about 2% of a 500-mcg dose of oral vitamin B12 is absorbed.
  • Only about 1.3% of a 1,000-mcg dose of vitamin B12 is absorbed.

Many doctors prefer vitamin B12 injections over pills, according to researchers. Potential reasons for this preference include low-quality evidence supporting oral B12 use, society recommendations for intramuscular vitamin B12, poor understanding of vitamin B12 absorption and requirements, and patients’ preferences for vitamin B12 injections.3 

Intrinsic factor does not limit the amount of B12 that can be absorbed by B12 injections. This means that your body can use much more vitamin B12 after a B12 injection. For example:2 

  • About 97% of a 10 mcg B12 injection is retained. 
  • About 55% of a 100 mcg B12 injection is retained.
  • About 15% of a 1,000 mcg B12 injection is retained.

If you are deficient in vitamin B12 due to a medical condition, older age, or after following a vegan or vegetarian diet, intramuscular vitamin B12 injections will replenish your vitamin B12 and restore your energy. A healthcare professional at Invigor Medical will evaluate your medical history and help you determine whether vitamin B12 injections are right for you. 

Looking to get vitamin B12 shots? See how Invigor Medical can help today!

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.

References

1. Langan RC, Zawistoski KJ. Update on vitamin B12 deficiency. Am Fam Physician. Jun 15 2011;83(12):1425-30. 

2. Carmel R. How I treat cobalamin (vitamin B12) deficiency. Blood. Sep 15 2008;112(6):2214-21. doi:10.1182/blood-2008-03-040253

3. Silverstein WK, Lin Y, Dharma C, Croxford R, Earle CC, Cheung MC. Prevalence of Inappropriateness of Parenteral Vitamin B12 Administration in Ontario, Canada. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2019;179(10):1434-1436. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.1859

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Published: Nov 2, 2022

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