- Vitamin C
- Weight loss
- Alternative to sugary drinks
- For kidney stones
- Aids digestion
- How to make
- Side effects
What are the benefits of drinking lemon water?
Lemon water is all the rage these days.
Many restaurants serve it routinely, and some people start their day with lemon water instead of coffee or tea. There’s no doubt that lemons are great for adding citrus flavor to food and drinks, but are there any benefits to adding lemon juice to your water?
Much of the evidence supporting lemon water’s health benefits is anecdotal.
While lemons contain nutrients, like vitamin C and antioxidants, the nutritional value of a glass of lemon water depends on how much lemon juice it contains.
A glass of lemon water containing one 48 gram lemon, squeezed, contains:
- 10.6 calories
- 18.6 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, or 21% of the daily value
- 9.6 micrograms (mcg) of folate, or 2% of the daily value
- 49.4 mg of potassium, or 1% of the daily value
- 0.038 mg of iron, or < 1% of the daily value
- 0.01 mg of vitamin B-1, or 1% of the daily value
- 0.01 mg of vitamin B-2, or 1% of the daily value
- 0.06 mg of vitamin B-5, or 1% of the daily value
Here’s how your body may benefit.
Lemon water promotes hydration
Making sure you’re drinking enough water every day is crucial for overall health — but not everyone likes the taste of plain water. Using lemon juice to add some flavor to your water may help you drink more.
Drinking water helps prevents dehydration, a condition that can cause:
- brain fog
- mood changes
- kidney stones
According to the Institute of Medicine, general guidelines say women should get at least 91 ounces of water per day and men should get at least 125 ounces. This includes water from food and drinks.
Lemon water is a good source of vitamin C
Citrus fruits like lemons contain vitamin C, a primary antioxidant that helps protect cells from damaging free radicals.
On top of that, vitamin C also plays a role in helping your body synthesize collagen, absorb iron, and produce hormones.
Additionally, not consuming enough vitamin C may cause symptoms, like:
- increased susceptibility to infections
- dryness of the mouth and eyes
- dry skin
- loosening of teeth
While lemons don’t top the list of citrus fruits high in vitamin C, they’re still a good source.
Squeezing the juice of a 48-gram lemon into a glass of water will provide you with 21% of the daily value of vitamin C.
Lemon water may support weight loss
Drinking lemon water may help you increase your water intake, which is often recommended as a weight-loss strategy. However, there’s limited evidence to justify this.
In a 2018 study, researchers found that participants who were instructed to drink water before eating a test meal ate less food than when they were instructed to eat the test meal without “pre-loading” with water.
When participants drank water before eating a test meal, they did not feel significantly less satiated, despite eating less food.
The study’s authors concluded that pre-meal water consumption may be an effective weight-loss strategy, although the mechanism of action is unknown.
Lemon water is a great alternative to sugary drinks
Sugar-sweetened beverages — like juice, soda, sports drinks, sweetened water, and energy drinks — are the leading source of added sugars in the American diet.
Regularly drinking these beverages is associated with a range of health conditions, including:
- weight gain
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- tooth decay
If you regularly reach for sweetened, fruit-flavored beverages to quench your thirst, switching to lemon water could help you cut back on sugar without sacrificing flavor.
Lemon water helps prevent kidney stones
The citric acid in lemons may help prevent kidney stones. Citrate, a component of citric acid, paradoxically makes urine less acidic and may even break up small stones.
Lemon juice contains citric acid, however, large amounts may be needed to increase your urine’s pH.
The National Kidney Foundation suggests mixing 4 oz of lemon juice concentrate with water as a complementary dietary remedy alongside other medication for kidney stone prevention.
Lemon water may aid digestion
Drinking lemon water before meals may help promote and improve digestion. That’s because the citric acid found in lemon juice has been shown to boost gastric acid secretion, a digestive fluid produced in the stomach that enables your body to break down and digest food.
In a 2021 study, participants drank 300 mL of either water or lemon water before eating meals for 4 weeks. The researchers collected stool samples before and after the test period and participants’ intestinal microbiota were analyzed.
The study’s authors found that pre-meal intake of lemon water appeared to promote digestion and peristalsis, or the wave-like contractions that help move food through the digestive tract. However, more large-scale studies are needed to fully understand the effects of lemon water on digestion.
How to make lemon water
To make lemon water, squeeze half a lemon into 8 ounces of warm or cold water.
You can infuse more flavor or a health boost by adding:
- a few springs of mint
- a teaspoon of maple syrup or raw honey
- a slice of fresh ginger
- a dash of cinnamon
- a sprinkle of turmeric
You can also add slices of other fresh produce, such as limes, oranges, or cucumber slices. Always wash them well before slicing.
Having lemon ice cubes on hand is a great way to add lemon to your water fast. Simply squeeze fresh lemon juice into ice cube trays and freeze. Drop a few cubes into a glass of cold or warm water as needed.
You can start your morning with a mug of warm lemon water, and keep a pitcher of water infused with a few sliced lemons in your refrigerator to drink throughout the day.
Side effects of lemon water
Lemon water is generally safe to drink, but there are a few potential side effects to be aware of.
Lemon contains citric acid, which may erode tooth enamel over the long term. To limit the risk, drink lemon water through a straw, and rinse your mouth with plain water afterward.
Additionally, citrus fruits like are known to increase gastric acid production, and they may cause heartburn in some people.
Lemon water is a refreshing drink and an easy way to add a little extra vitamin C and antioxidants into your diet. Adding a splash of lemon to your water may make water more appealing to drink, which could help you cut back on drinking sugary sports drinks and juices.
While more research is needed, lemon water may help improve digestion and even support weight loss.