​Free vitamin D scheme


Pregnant women, new mums and children under four in the borough can get free vitamin D supplements.

For pregnant women supplements will make sure that their own needs for vitamin D are met and they have enough vitamin D to pass onto their developing baby. When pregnant if women don’t get enough vitamin D their children can be more at risk of rickets, seizures and even heart failure in rare cases.

After birth, mothers can continue to get vitamin D supplements for a year along with vitamin D drops for their child until they reach age four.

Where to get free vitamin D

You can collect your free vitamin D supplements from these Southwark pharmacies.

Why vitamin D is important

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.
Low levels of vitamin D in babies and children can lead to rickets, which affects the way bones develop and grow.

How we get vitamin D

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 this period it is important to apply sunscreen as usual and carefully avoid sunburn.

You are 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

It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone, no matter how healthy your diet is. However, vitamin D is found naturally in small amounts in some foods such as oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and trout. There is also a small amount of vitamin D in eggs and fortified foods (with added vitamin D) such as some breakfast cereals.

Pregnant women, new mums and children under four need extra vitamin D for healthy bones from vitamin D supplements. If you are pregnant or have children under four you can register for your free vitamins at most community pharmacies across the borough.  When you register you will receive a Free D card.