The Scottish government is to advise women who are planning a pregnancy to take vitamin D supplements, BBC Scotland can reveal.The government will also urge new mothers not to wait too long before introducing lumpy food to their babies.
The new infant strategy aims to highlight how nutritional choices start before conception and do not end after breastfeeding.
Previous policies had concentrated on breastfeeding alone.
Health minister Shona Robison said: "What we're doing is putting breastfeeding in a wider context.
"We recognise that there's a lot more that we can be doing and that healthcare staff can be doing to advise women before conception.
"After conception there are things they can do about their own nutrition which can really benefit their newborn child."
Many women of childbearing age in Scotland are known to be deficient in key nutrients including iron, calcium, folate and vitamin D.
Health experts now recommended that women who are planning to become pregnant take a supplement of vitamin D as well as folic acid.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin best known for its roles in preventing rickets and maintaining proper levels of calcium in the blood.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin best known for its roles in preventing rickets and maintaining proper levels of calcium in the blood. The 'Sunshine Vitamin' is generally acquired by the body in two ways - exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays and dietary intake.
Vitamin D supplementation helps to prevent Vitamin D deficiency which is important as the vitamin is a factor in the maintenance of good health.
Furthermore Vitamin D helps in the
• development and maintenance of bones.
• development and maintenance of teeth.
• absorption and use of calcium and phosphorus