A 'multivitamin' can also include minerals and other nutritional elements, and comes in a variety of easily ingested forms to supplement dietary sources of the nutrients essential to human health. In a balanced diet, with attention paid to proper nutrition, multivitamin supplements should not be necessary for good health, but in modern times people can be at risk from malnutrition for many reasons, not least the lack of time to research, prepare and cook a balanced meal.
Some sectors of the population, such as pregnant women and the elderly, may need to supplement their vitamin and mineral intake to encourage or maintain cell growth. The nutrients most commonly lacking in a poor or restricted diet are likely to be fibre, vitamin D (particularly in areas of low sun exposure), potassium and calcium, especially where bone health is concerned.
Many multivitamin combinations are likely to contain most of the B complex vitamins, vitamins C, K and D2 or 3, plus a range of minerals including zinc, selenium, potassium iodine, calcium, iron and all the Ms: manganese, molybdenum and magnesium. These may additionally be channeled based on gender, age, lifestyle or physical fitness, and many compounds now focus particularly on antioxidants.