Free vitamin D supplements for those who are pregnant and young children
If you're pregnant or gave birth in the last year, and live in Lewisham Borough, you and your child are entitled to receive free vitamin D supplements via the Lewisham Free Vitamin D Scheme.
The scheme is supported by Lewisham CCG and the Public Health Lewisham team. Vitamin D is needed to develop and maintain strong, healthy bones and teeth.
Dr Faruk Majid, local GP and Lewisham CCG Clinical Chair, said: "The role of vitamin D is a very important one. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body – and these nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
"But a lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults."
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight on your skin. However the sun in the UK is only strong enough between April and September. The amount of time you need in the sun to make enough vitamin D is different for every person and depends on things such as skin type, the time of day and the time of year.
Going out in the sun for around 15 minutes without sunscreen three to four times a week in the summer sun is a good way to keep vitamin D levels topped up.
After 15 minutes, it's important to use sun cream and avoid sunburn. The amount of sun you need to make enough vitamin D is less than the amount that causes tanning or burning, so you don't need to sunbathe to get vitamin D.
Dr Majid said: "You can get vitamin D in your diet, but even healthy and balanced diets are unlikely to provide enough. That's why we want give those who are pregnant in Lewisham and their young children the best possible start in life."
If you are pregnant, you can make sure you and your developing baby have enough vitamin D by taking supplements. This will help make sure your baby is born with enough stores of vitamin D for the first few months of life.
If you don't get enough vitamin D when you are pregnant, there is a higher risk your child will develop a vitamin D deficiency.
You can register to get free vitamins from most community pharmacies across the borough if you:
- Are pregnant
- Have recently given birth
- Have a child under four.
After your baby is born, you can still get free vitamin D supplements for a year, and your child can get free vitamin D drops until they are four years old.
For more information about how to access free Vitamin D supplements, visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/freevitaminD