by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Prescription MedicinesOver the Counter Medicines

The medicines below are used to treat anemia. Only the most basic problems are listed. Ask your doctor if there are any other steps you need to take. Use each of them as your doctor tells you. If you have any questions or can’t follow the package instructions, call your doctor.

Don't take any over the counter medicines without talking to your doctor first. They can interfere with others you may be taking.

  • Vitamin B12
  • Folic acid (1 milligram)
  • Iron
  • Folic acid (less than 1 milligram)

Prescription Medicines

Vitamin B12

You need vitamin B12 to make red blood cells (RBCs). It also helps your nervous system. If your intestines are not absorbing enough vitamin B12, you can get it as a shot. It's given each day, then over time it's lowered to once a month. You can also take it as a pill. But it must be done each day.

Folic Acid (1 milligram)

Many people are given folic acid to correct or prevent anemias. Folic acid at this dose is only given by prescription. Your doctor will have to test you to make sure it's safe for you to take it.

Over the Counter Medicines
Iron Pills

Low iron common in women. It can be replaced with a supplement. This will help boost iron when you need it. They're taken until iron levels return to normal. Common problems with iron pills are nausea, constipation, and black stools.

Supplements with any iron in them should be kept out of reach of all young children (especially those under 6 years old). Taking too much iron, even by accident, can lead to serious life-threatening health problems.

Folic Acid (less than 1 milligram)

Small doses of folic acid can be found with other vitamins and supplements without a prescription.

Special Considerations

If you are taking medicines:

  • Take the medicine as directed. Don’t change the amount or the schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Don’t share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicines can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than 1 medicine. This includes over the counter products and supplements.
  • Plan for refills as needed.


Anemia. American Society of Hematology website. Available at: Accessed February 13, 2020.

Anemia in Adults-Approach to Patients. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated September 27, 2019. Accessed February 13, 2020.

Anemia in Older Adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated November 27, 2017. Accessed February 13, 2020.

Anemia. National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute website. Available at: Accessed February 13, 2020.

Complete blood count (CBC). Lab Tests Online—AACC website. Available at: Updated January 11, 2020. Accessed February 13, 2020.

Vieth JT, Lane DR. Anemia. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2017 Dec;31(6):1045-1060.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019
  • Update Date: 10/30/2020