Healthcare professionals in the Western Isles are encouraging local parents to ensure that they take up the offer of free Healthy Start Vitamin drops this winter.
Recent research has indicated that a significant proportion of the UK population has low levels of Vitamin D over the winter period. Young children are one of the groups that may be at risk of a deficiency in Vitamin D, especially those who live in the northern parts of the UK.
NHS Western Isles is therefore offering free Healthy Start Vitamin drops to all babies aged from six months to four years of age. The Healthy Start Vitamin drops contain Vitamins A, C and D.
Vitamin A is important for keeping your child’s immune system healthy, can help vision in dim light and supports healthy skin. Vitamin C helps maintain healthy tissue in the body. Our bodies can’t store Vitamin C, so you need to get some every day. Young children, who can be fussy eaters, might not get enough from their diet alone. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, keeping your bones and teeth healthy.
Tina Burgess from the NHS Western Isles Health Promotion Department said: “The vitamin drops can be given with liquids such as milk or water and each bottle lasts for eight weeks. Two bottles will be provided for each child that lasts for a sixteen week period.
“Vitamins are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts so that it can work properly. Even though you can get lots of vitamins from a healthy balanced diet, you still might not get everything you need at certain times in your life. The Scottish Health Department recommends that children aged between six months and four years should take a supplement containing specific vitamins to make sure they get everything they need. With specific regard to Vitamin D, the best source of this vitamin is summer sunlight, and it can be hard to get enough of this in the Western Isles to last through the winter months. It’s therefore specifically important to ensure your child is getting enough Vitamin D during the dark winter months, through the Health Start Vitamins.”
Parents can collect the vitamins from their local health visitor or from their local GP surgery. The popular parenting Western Isles website (http://www.wihb.scot.nhs.uk/parentingwi/index.htm) has the email and telephone contact numbers of all Health Visitors. If parents are experiencing any problems accessing the vitamins please contact Lorraine Gillies at the Health Promotion Department in the Health Board Offices, South Beach, Stornoway, for more information on 01851 702997.