• 73°

Pharmacy gives babies good nutritional start

From before they’re born until they’re about to start junior high, Oxford Family Pharmacy is helping children stay healthy by providing free vitamins to local families.

Pharmacy owners Jimmy and Jennifer Yancy pay for the vitamins out of their pocket, according to pharmacist Adam Baskerville.

“They heard about other pharmacies doing something similar and decided to try it here,” Baskerville said.

For expecting mothers, the pharmacy gives vitamins high in folic acid, which has shown to help prevent Spina Bifida, a birth defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. Regular multivitamins may not have folic acid at all or less than what is recommended for pregnant women, which is .5 to 1 milligram a day.

The prenatals given are Vitafushion, which cost about $10 a bottle normally.

Expecting mother April Howland said the free vitamins have been a big help to her during her pregnancy.

“Every penny counts right now,” she said recently. “Between the prenatals and the children’s vitamins for my 3-year-old son, that’s about $20 a month we are saving.”

The prenatals also contain Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and is an omega-3 fatty acid that is a primary structural component of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin, sperm, testicles and the retina.

For children 2 to 12, the pharmacy gives either Disney gummies or Flintstones chewable vitamins, both with iron.

“We have given out 22,268 vitamins to children since we started in January 2014,” Baskerville said. “That’s about 756 bottles.”

Baskerville said the pharmacy hasn’t given out as many prenatal vitamins because not as many parents may be aware the pharmacy gives them away for free, but  they have seen their donations increase recently after promoting the giveaway on social media.

Residents do not need to show any documents to prove income in  order to receive the free vitamins.

“We put in a profile so we can print a label and ask for your name, birthday and allergies,” he said. “You don’t have to fill anything out and prove to us what your income is. You just come in and say you need vitamins.”

Baskerville said giving away the vitamins is a public service and a way for the owners to give back to the community, and it’s also a good way to meet new potential customers. You do not have to be a customer at the pharmacy or have had prescriptions filled there to get the vitamins.

“We hope they come in and meet us and see the kind of service they would get here,” he said. “But if not, that’s fine too. Healthy kids are the main goal.”