A multivitamin is a preparation intended to serve as a dietary supplement - with vitamins, dietary minerals, and other nutritional elements. Such preparations are available in the form of tablets, capsules, pastilles, powders, liquids, or injectable formulations. Other than injectable formulations, which are only available and administered under medical supervision, multivitamins are recognized by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (the United Nations' authority on food standards) as a category of food.
In healthy people, most scientific evidence indicates that multivitamin supplements do not prevent cancer, heart disease, or other ailments, and regular supplementation is not necessary. However, specific groups of people may benefit from multivitamin supplements, for example, people with poor nutrition or those at high risk of macular degeneration.
There is no standardized scientific definition for multivitamin. In the United States, a multivitamin/mineral supplement is defined as a supplement containing three or more vitamins and minerals that does not include herbs, hormones, or drugs, where each vitamin and mineral is included at a dose below the tolerable upper intake level as determined by the Food and Drug Board, and does not present a risk of adverse health effects.