Pregnant women, new mothers and children on low income are reminded that they can receive free supplies of vitamin supplements "Healthy Start Vitamins" to help them eat more healthily.
The supplements include tablets for pregnant women and new mothers, and vitamin drops for children. People on the Healthy Start scheme get a special vitamins voucher every eight weeks which they can exchange for the free Healthy Start vitamin product which is suitable for them. This helps to ensure that these low-income groups get the vitamins they need to remain healthy.
The supplements contain the right amount of vitamins recommended by the Government to be consumed every day. They are easy to use and should be taken daily.
The Department of Health and Social Care arranges for the vitamin products to be manufactured and they are then handed out locally in places like clinics, children's centres and pharmacies by local authorities and the NHS. In some areas midwives and health visitors also hand out supplies of the vitamins.
Eagle-eyed users of the Healthy Start Vitamins may notice a number of changes in the products.
What changes have been made to Healthy Start Vitamins for women?
The women's tablets will be in a new, larger tub. All the necessary information about the product now appears on a single label, rather than the "multi-fold" label which was a feature of the old tub.
Everything else remains the same. There are still 56 tablets – eight weeks' supply – in a tub, with one tablet to be taken each day for maximum effectiveness.
What changes have been made to Healthy Start Vitamins for Children?
There have been some key changes to the children's vitamins product. The product is still offered in the form of drops, with a daily dose of 5 drops per day – and should still be used on a daily basis for maximum effectiveness.
The drops are still supplied in a 10ml bottle containing eight weeks' supply – but the new product is supplied in a slightly larger carton.
The formulation of this product has changed too. Each daily dose of 5 drops now contains 10microgrammes of vitamin D in line with Government recommendations.
This new product is a food supplement not a medicine like it was previously. This means that it can be stored, distributed and disposed of in the same way as the women's product, also a food supplement.
The product can be used from birth – but only for breastfed babies. Formula-fed babies do not need these vitamin drops until they are consuming less than 500ml of formula today. This is because formula is already fortified with vitamins.
Find out more information about the Healthy Start Scheme