A daily bowl of oatmeal makes a healthy addition to any diet, but oatmeal is especially beneficial to pregnant women. The website What to Expect lists it as one of the top 12 super foods for expectant women, and the American Pregnancy Association reports that oatmeal is a top source of folic acid and iron, which are both crucial nutrients in the prenatal period.
Folic acid helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida, a condition that affects the spinal cord, and anencephaly, or underdevelopment of the brain. For this reason, most prenatal supplements contain some if not all of the daily requirements for folic acid. Oatmeal is a significant source as well. According to Quaker Oats, just one serving of oatmeal contains 20 percent of the recommended daily intake for nonpregnant adults. As noted on WomensHealth.gov, pregnant women, as well as all women of childbearing age, should make sure that they get 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid each day.
Iron also plays a key role in a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women are more likely to develop iron deficiency anemia, a condition that results from low hemoglobin and causes extreme fatigue, irritability and even depression. During pregnancy, women need about 30 milligrams of iron each day, according to the Cleveland Clinic. And Quaker reports that one serving of oatmeal provides 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron for the average adult. Eat fruit or drink a glass of juice with your oatmeal, since vitamin C increases iron absorption.
Folic acid isn't the only B vitamin found in oatmeal. Oatmeal also contains 20 percent of the average adult's recommended daily intake for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B-6. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, vitamin B-6 has been used since the 1940s to help alleviate nausea that often occurs during pregnancy, particularly in the early stages. Riboflavin and thiamin help maintain energy levels, while niacin aids in healthy digestion and helps you maintain healthy skin during your pregnancy.
Constipation is a common pregnancy symptom. According to the American Pregnancy Association, one of the most common causes of constipation in the prenatal period is lack of fiber in the diet. Oatmeal is a good source of fiber, providing 3 grams of soluble and 1 gram of insoluble fiber per serving. To boost the fiber content even more, add a tablespoon of wheat bran or high-fiber fruits, such as berries, to your bowl of oatmeal.
- What to Expect: Best Foods to Eat While Pregnant
- American Pregnancy Association: Pregnancy Nutrition
- Quaker Oats: Quaker Oatmeal Nutrition Facts
- Cleveland Clinic: Increasing Iron in Your Diet During Pregnancy
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Vitamin B6
- American Pregnancy Association: Essential Nutrients & Vitamins for Pregnancy
- American Pregnancy Association: Pregnancy and Constipation