nutrition

Is Lemon Water Really Good for You? A Simple, Science-Backed Answer

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

6 min read

a jug and cup of lemon water on an outdoor patio

Lemon water is a popular drink purported to have many health benefits, but does it have real health perks and are there side effects to too much lemon water?

Are there really benefits to drinking lemon water?

Drinking lemon water is often believed to have health benefits. But how real are these health claims? We all know that staying hydrated is an important part of any wellness routine, but does adding a squeeze of lemon enhance its benefits?

What the research says

Lemon juice contains elements that are known for their health benefits, such as flavonoids and phytochemicals, among other immune promoting properties. One tablespoon of lemon juice has 9% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Since vitamin C has many benefits to the body, including being a powerful antioxidant, lemon juice can be an easy way to add more of it to your diet.

The top 5 benefits of lemon water

By adding lemon juice to drinking water, you can easily give a health benefits boost to your daily water intake. But what are the specific benefits of drinking lemon water? Here are five of the top benefits of drinking water with fresh squeezed lemon juice added into it.

Kidney Support

Lemon water can help support kidney health thanks to its citrus composition. Lemons are high in citric acid, and citric acid contains a salt that can bind to calcium. This binding effect may help promote calcium balance in the body or prevent excess calcium which can lead to other issues. Drinking about four ounces of lemon juice daily may help the kidneys in preventing kidney stones. Lemon water may also help make urine less acidic due to its alkaline byproducts which can be beneficial to kidney function.

Weight Management

Proper hydration can aid in weight management, and since lemon water has nominal calories, it can fill you up and make you feel satiated. This, in turn, may make it easier to eat less, resulting in consuming less calories. One study found that drinking about 10 ounces of water before a meal significantly reduces the amount of calories consumed immediately after.

The polyphenols in lemon may also make you want to consider starting your day with lemon water. In one study, researchers found that these specific polyphenols suppress diet-induced weight gain and are beneficial in insulin and lipid metabolism. Water, in general, can be a key part of weight management. One study showed that drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%.

However, it’s important to note that lemon water isn’t a replacement for good overall health habits which include proper nutrition and a diet filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy carbs, protein, and fats. Making sure you get adequate sleep and exercise regularly are also important parts of any weight management routine.

Although more research is needed, citrus flavonoids, phytonutrients that are produced by certain plants, may help manage oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can damage cells as a normal part of aging.

Source of Vitamin C

There are 38 mg of vitamin C in a 100 gram serving of lemon juice, which is about three and a half ounces. The recommended daily allowance for vitamin C is between 75-90 mg, making lemon juice a good source of the micronutrient. Vitamin C has many benefits including:

  • Supporting the functioning of the immune system
  • Providing a powerful antioxidant that fights off the damage of free radicals that enter the body
  • Supporting eye health, particularly as we age

Hydration

Does a glass of lemon water sound more appealing than plain water? One way lemon water can help is by adding flavor to water, which can allow people who aren’t huge fans of water to drink more of it. Lemon provides a refreshing boost making it more palatable to drink water throughout the day. To stay hydrated, it’s recommended to drink eight to 10 eight ounce glasses of water each day. If you prepare a carafe or pitcher full of lemon water to drink over the course of a day, be sure to keep it fresh by storing in the refrigerator and discard any leftover water after three days.

May help digestion

Drinking lemon water prior to eating may help the body produce stomach acid and aid in the stomach’s contractions that are necessary for proper digestion. Lemon juice may also lower the glycemic response which can be beneficial to blood sugar levels in the body, helping minimize spikes in insulin. Another possible benefit to lemon juice comes from its ability to balance pH in the body, which can assist digestive enzymes and their ability to aid in digestion.

How much lemon water should you drink per day?

Drinking adequate amounts of water is an important part of helping the body to function at its best. Since many of us don’t drink enough water each day, it’s important to begin with proper hydration. It’s recommended that men drink 125 ounces daily and women drink 91 ounces.

A good guideline for adding lemon to your water is to include the juice from two to three lemons in your daily water consumption. Around four to six tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice each day will give you about half of the RDA for vitamin C each day. This can be spread out over several glasses of water.

Does lemon water have any side-effects?

There aren’t any serious side effects to be concerned about when it comes to lemon water. But there are some minor issues to understand. One of these is tooth enamel erosion. Because lemon juice is highly acidic, over time, drinking lemon juice regularly may wear away the enamel of teeth. Many drinks, from sodas to orange juice have similarly corrosive effects according to one study. The researchers advised however that this information should be weighed against the benefits of certain citrus fruit juices. If tooth enamel erosion is a concern, there are many steps you can take to minimize it while still enjoying the benefits of lemon water:

  • Use fresh squeezed lemons over bottled lemon juice concentrates
  • Rinse your mouth with plain water after drinking
  • Drink lemon water in one sitting rather than sipping over a long period of time
  • Use a straw

It also should be noted that lemon juice may exacerbate occasional heartburn or cause occasional headaches in people sensitive to the properties of lemons. If there’s a concern about these issues, it’s best to go slow and introduce one glass of lemon juice in the morning to see how your body reacts, before incorporating it throughout the day.

Key takeaways

Lemon water can provide many beneficial ingredients such as flavonoids and phytochemicals. It’s also a good source of vitamin C, making it a useful antioxidant that can help fight free radicals.

Adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to water can provide benefits from supporting kidney and digestion function to helping with weight management. Since proper hydration is crucial to helping the body to function properly, adding lemon can help make the beverage more appealing.

Because lemons are acidic, over time they may contribute to tooth enamel erosion, so it’s best to rinse with plain water after consuming highly-acidic drinks like lemon water.

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