Multivitamins as Dietary Supplements: Pros and Cons


Multivitamins are supplements that include a variety of necessary vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and beneficial ingredients that are commonly found naturally in food. The use of supplements has been in a steady incline since the 1970s, and in a growing food industry where processed foods are nutrient poor, average Americans are falling short of their nutritional requirements and falling back to the aid of Multivitamins. Even the healthiest of consumers are turning to Multivitamins for support however the debate whether supplements fulfill their purpose is based on a case to case scenario. As stated by the FDA Cir. 2017 discussing Dietary Supplements While some supplements can meet the necessity of vital substances the body needs and reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies and disease it is with caution that we inform ourselves that supplements remain uncertified by the FDA.

As well as the risks that can come along with active ingredients found in supplements and their effects on the body such as; using medication with multivitamins, substituting medications with supplements, combining, and the overuse of supplements that can cause negative effects when dosage is more than the daily requirement. In this paper we will investigate the effects of Multivitamins, contents in the average supplement, healthful diets including vitamins, and potential consequences of supplement use. 


What Are in Them?

Because Multivitamins, or sometimes named as MVMs, have no regulations or guidelines manufacturers are responsible as to what amounts and types of ingredients and vitamins go in their MVMs. Thus because of this irregulated field there are a multitude of options lined up for consumers to pick and choose from and types. Common Dietary supplements may simply include standard essential nutrients, ex; Calcium, Fish Oil, Vitamin D, etc. While others can be specifically geared towards special functions such as condition management, energy, immune functions, and can include combinations of specialty ingredients like sterols, coenzymes, probiotics, and glucosamine. In a study on Adult MVMs, 12 out of the 18 nutrients that were provided in products labeled at appropriate amounts or about the RDA amount were revealed to have exceed the amounts printed on packaging by nearly 1-13%. To fully understand what contents are in a consumer's supplement of choice it is up to the consumer to check with manufacturers regarding claims and effectiveness of ingredients provided in the product. It is also advised to use considerably more reliable sources regarding supplement content through noncommercial resources like the FDA, USDA, and WHO rather than commercial sites. 

How Much of a Help are they?

With age, food absorption and the ability to get our nutrients through food decline. Partnered with less eating and losing energy, adults can fall behind in nutrient requirements. In the U.S. most adults fail to meet the Dietary requirements that are considered a healthy eating pattern. During a report by the NHANES (2003-2006) at least 10% of the U.S. population had nutrition deficiencies. 

When paired with a healthful diet, MVMs are more closely synonymous to a ‘back up plan’ and a booster. In a study surveying a mixed group from Los Angeles and Hawaii, results showed that MVM users adequacy levels improved by 8%, including both men and women. While Multivitamins can be an aid to nutrition intake, they aren’t a miracle pill and cannot replace an entire daily requirement.

Vitamins and the aid against illnesses

Though popular claims prop up vitamins and supplements as key to preventing chronic illnesses, Cancers, and even Heart disease there has yet to be scientific date to support such claims. A frequently noted source of evidence reported by an article by Eliseo Guallar and associates, researchers revealed that in an analysis involving up to 450,000 people Ker per take, results found that multivitamins had no affect nor reduced the risk of heart disease or Cancer. Though the largest study, two other studies have also been looked upon as evidence to have debunk the popular assumption and worldwide claims remarking that multivitamin as a preventative measure. Unfortunately, as hyped up as commercials and manufacturers broadcast their products, scientists have resulted that those ‘claims’ are just that. Claims. And without factual support they are not what they are said to be. 

Vitamins and Consequences

Oversaturation of Nutrients

Much like with anything, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing even in the world of Nutrition and Health. Yes, even too much vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can yield negative effects. Vitamin overdose can occur when the normal or recommended dosage of vitamins is over said amounts. Oversaturation of Vitamins, A, D, E, or K can leave serious negative effects on the human body and possibly become life threatening. Symptoms can go from vomiting, hair loss, weight loss, muscle and joint pain, to serious issues such as blood in urine and bleeding. Vitamins are not only to blame for oversaturation but minerals as well, minerals like Magnesium, Phosphorous, Iron, and Zinc can cause symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. In the event of a possible overdose it is highly recommended to seek professional medical help or call Poison Control for immediate assistance.

Toxic Effects from Supplements and Are they Worth it?

While Multivitamins are considerably seen as ‘safe’ despite their medical efficiency, the underlying danger of supplements that are often a footnote in public image are still prevalent and very much worth the consideration before implementing into a new diet. Factors required when acknowledging if supplements are for patients involve, age, sex, and overall medical history and current diet, what can be considered safe in one person can be highly unsafe for someone with different physiology. Example of cautionary medications involve; Antacids, antibiotics, diuretics, Medication involving heart and blood pressure health, and several inflammatory medications. This is excluding possible factors such as consumers undergoing serious conditions, depression, heart disease, organ recipients, that can be under medication that would be rendered less effective with supplements. Consider, a patient prescribed a blood thinner such as ‘warfarin’, combined with an herbal supplement like ginkgo biloba can each individually thin blood consequently creating a potential for stroke or internal bleeding.

This can prove to be hazardous as out of a representing 72 million people in the U.S., 34% of participants were combining supplements with prescription medications. It is imperative that before considering adding a supplement into an overall daily intake; Vitamins and Minerals should always be discussed with a doctor before consumption, especially in circumstances where the possibility of preexisting medication and even conditions can inadvertently create a potential harm in users.


In conclusion, while the use of multivitamins can aid in rounding out a nutritional daily intake in most adults, it’s overall use is rather ineffective. Seeing as vitamin supplements lack the evidence to cooperate any claims of aiding and preventing in chronic illnesses and disease, as well as plausible hazards towards a consumer base with a lack of regulation by the FDA. It is only under the recommendation of medical professionals should they be implemented in a diet.


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  2. Are there any Risks in taking supplements? U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  3. Should You Get Your Nutrients from Food or from Supplements? Harvard Health Publishing
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  9. Mixing Medications and Dietary Supplements Can Endanger Your Health U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  10. Mixing Medications and Dietary Supplements Can Endanger Your Health U.S. Food and Drug Administration
07 April 2022
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