Healthy Start Vitamins
A healthy balanced diet is important for everyone but is especially important if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
Being pregnant means providing for your own needs but also for your growing baby.
Being a new mum takes a lot out of your body. As well as eating a good diet you will be encouraged to take the Healthy Start vitamins for Women.
These have been specially made to give you the right amount of extra vitamins you will need in one single tablet each day.
Although most vitamins are found in the foods you eat, it is important to make sure you are getting enough folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin D.
If you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or there is a chance you might become pregnant, you should take a folic acid supplement and eat more foods containing folate (the natural form of folic acid) such as green leafy vegetables, oranges and fortified bread and breakfast cereals. You will be encouraged to take 400mcg (0.4mg) of folic acid every day before you get pregnant and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy - the exact amount which is in the Healthy Start Vitamins for Women.
Vitamin C is important for general health and for the immune system. It helps wounds to heal. It also helps you absorb iron. Your body needs time to build up iron throughout pregnancy so taking Vitamin C is a great way to ensure your body has enough iron. You can get vitamin C from fruit and vegetables, especially blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers and strawberries. Potatoes, sweet potatoes and mangoes are also good sources.
Vitamin D is needed to grow strong bones and teeth and to keep them healthy. Vitamin D is found in a few foods such as oily fish, eggs, margarine and fortified breakfast cereals, but we get most of it from being outdoors in the sunlight. Our bodies are able to make vitamin D from the action of the suns rays on our skin but in Scotland we do not have enough sunlight between November and April.
To make up what is missing you should take vitamin D throughout your pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding. If you have dark skin, or cover your skin, you are more at risk from vitamin D deficiency.
Why children should take Healthy Start Vitamins
Children need lots of vitamins to help them grow up strong and healthy. Your young children may not get enough vitamins C and D from their food for the same reason as mum (see above). Your child may also not get enough Vitamin A from their food.
Vitamin A helps with growth, eyesight and healthy skin. Your children can get this from, eggs, oily fish (such as mackerel), milk, fortified margarine and yoghurt. The body also makes vitamin A from beta carotene found in orange, red and dark green vegetables such as spinach, carrots and red peppers, and yellow fruit such as mango and melon.
As well as eating a good healthy diet, you will be encouraged to give your child Healthy Start Vitamins from 6 months (if breastfed or taking less than 500ml of formula each day as formula milk already has the vitamins added) until their 5th birthday.
A daily dose of 5 drops of Healthy Start Childrens Vitamins will give your child all the extra vitamins they need.
Healthy start vitamins should be taken until one year in the postnatal period.
Healthy Start vouchers for pregnant women
The Healthy Start scheme provides vouchers to pregnant women and families who qualify. The vouchers can be used to buy milk and plain fresh and frozen vegetables at local shops. You qualify for Healthy Start if you're at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, and you or your family get:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit, unless your family is receiving Working Tax Credit run-on only*) and has an annual family income of £16,190 or less (2014/15)
If you are pregnant and under 18 years old, you qualify for Healthy Start vouchers regardless of your income.
Or call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823 to ask for advice or to see if you qualify.
The new Best Start grant has begun in Scotland this will replace the Sure start maternity grant. All of the details including how to apply can be found HERE