Why do my baby and I need vitamins?
It’s recommended that all pregnant & breastfeeding women should take vitamin supplements.
Breastfed babies should also take vitamin supplements from birth.
Formula fed babies do not need to take extra vitamin supplements unless they are drinking less
than 500mls of infant formula in a day.
Vitamin D is very important for you and your baby. It helps your body to absorb calcium, which is essential for keeping bones healthy throughout life. Vitamin D helps to make sure the bones and teeth of both you and your child become and remain strong.
What happens to children who don’t get enough vitamin D?
Low levels of vitamin D in babies and children can lead to rickets, which affects the way bones develop and grow. The bones of a child with rickets are unable to support their body weight, resulting in bowed legs or knock knees.
How do I know if my child is getting enough vitamin D?
Some possible signs of low levels of vitamin D are:
- bone and muscle pain
- soft skull
- weak teeth and delayed growth of teeth
- delayed walking
Severe vitamin D deficiency can cause low levels of calcium in the blood, leading to muscle cramps, seizures and breathing difficulties.
Where else are vitamins found?
Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D, although only from April until September. To stay safe in the sun while getting vitamin D, you should go outside for 15 minutes without sunscreen three to four times a week, then apply sunscreen. You do not need to sunbathe, tan or burn to get vitamin D.
Vitamin D is found naturally in small amounts in some foods. The main sources are oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and trout. However, while you are pregnant, you should eat no more than two portions of oily fish a week (where each portion is 140g).
There is also a small amount of vitamin D in eggs and fortified foods, such as some breakfast cereals.
Who should take vitamin D supplements?
Who should take vitamin D?
For pregnant women, new mums and children (from birth to 4 years old) extra vitamin D is required for healthy bone growth. Therefore it is important to take supplements containing the recommended amount, even if you think you are getting enough daily sun exposure.
You are at particular risk of Vitamin D deficiency if you:
- Are of Asian, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern origin
- Cover up your skin for cultural reasons
- Are confined indoors
- Are overweight
Vitamins and healthy start
Vitamins & Healthy Start
Tablets for women containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D, and drops for children (from birth – 4 years old) containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D are available for free as part of the Lewisham Free D scheme. The women’s tablets also contain the recommended amounts of folic acid, so it’s not necessary to take folic acid supplements separately. You will need to register at your local pharmacist to receive the vitamins.
To find out which pharmacies in Lewisham you can collect your vitamins from visit https://lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/socialcare/health/parenting/being-a-parent/free-vitamin-d/where-to-get-free-vitamin-d
If you receive certain benefits, or are under 18, you can apply for Healthy Start vouchers to buy food as well as vitamins. For more information on the Healthy Start scheme and to see whether you qualify, visit https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/. Ask your Health Visitor for an application form or you can apply online https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/healthy-start-vouchers/how-to-apply/online-application-form/ .