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Multivitamins: Supplement Uses, Warnings, Side Effects, Dosage

Generic Name: multivitamins

Brand Names: Folgard, Natalins Rx, Nestabs CBF, Nestabs FA

Drug Class: Vitamins, Combos

What are multivitamins, and what are they used for?

Multivitamins are a combination of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, each of which plays different roles in maintaining good health and normal functioning of the body. Multivitamins are available in many different combinations, but the most common are once-daily products that contain all or most vitamins and minerals in amounts close to daily recommended doses.

Multivitamins are used to supplement nutritional deficiency in people who are unable to get their nutrients from dietary intake alone. Multivitamins can provide the necessary nutrients to people who are on low-calorie diets, have a poor appetite, or avoid certain foods. Multivitamins may also be intravenously administered along with other nutrients to people who, for any reason, cannot use their digestive tract for nutrition and are on total IV (parenteral) nutritional support.

A lot of people take multivitamins for general health and to protect from developing chronic diseases, particularly age-related conditions, however, the benefits of multivitamins in these uses are difficult to determine. Essential nutrients are best absorbed from dietary intake for people who have no special need for supplementation.


Do not take multivitamins if you are hypersensitive to any of its ingredients

  • Do not take multivitamins if you have any of the following conditions:
    • Hemochromatosis, a condition in which excess iron builds up in the body
    • Wilson’s disease, a rare inherited disorder that causes copper buildup; avoid products containing copper
    • Pre-existing hypervitaminosis, a condition with abnormally high vitamin levels
  • Do not administer adult multivitamin preparations to children; may contain iron at amounts not suitable for children and can cause severe iron toxicity
  • Use with caution in patients with severe impairment of kidney or liver function
  • Recommended daily allowance (RDA) values are not required amounts but recommended daily allowances of certain nutrients
  • Some products may contain phenylalanine, an amino acid; avoid these products if you have phenylketonuria, a condition that causes excess phenylalanine buildup

What are the side effects of multivitamins?

Common side effects of multivitamins include:

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug.

Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What are the dosages of multivitamins?

A large number of multivitamin products are available; consult each product labeling for dosage forms and strengths.

Nutritional Supplement


  • 1 tablet orally once/day
  • 10 mL in 500-1000 mL normal saline (NS)/dextrose 5% in water (D5W) intravenous (IV) or added to total parenteral nutrition (TPN)


  • Children of weight 3 kg or more to 11 years of age: 5 mL/day intravenous (IV) of pediatric formulation added to TPN or 100 mL or greater of appropriate solution
  • Children above 11 years: 1 tablet orally once/day or 10 mL in 500-1000 mL NS/D5W IV


  • Any component of the multivitamin supplement can be toxic with overdose, but the most serious risk comes from iron or calcium.
  • There are risks associated also with overdose of vitamin D and vitamin A. In case of overdose, seek medical help immediately or contact Poison Control.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.”
See Answer

What drugs interact with multivitamins?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

  • Multivitamins have no listed severe interactions with other drugs.
  • Multivitamins have no listed serious interactions with other drugs.
  • Multivitamins have no listed moderate interactions with other drugs.
  • Multivitamins have no listed mild interactions with other drugs.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Controlled studies on use of multivitamin use during pregnancy show no evidence of fetal risk. Nutrient requirement rises during pregnancy and many pregnant women may benefit from appropriate multivitamin intake.
  • Multivitamins at recommended doses are generally safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding

What else should I know about multivitamins?

  • Multivitamins cannot replace a healthy diet; the best way to meet your daily nutrient requirement is with a variety of nutritious food and beverages
  • Multivitamins differ in combinations and formulations, always check the labels for ingredients, dosages and instructions for use
  • Do not administer adult formulations to children; adult dosages can be toxic to children
  • Multivitamins are marketed as dietary supplements, which do not require the kind of extensive pre-marketing approvals from the FDA that drugs require; exercise caution in choosing the product

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