- The benefits of lemon water include boosting Vitamin C, aiding weight loss, preventing kidney stones, and freshening breath.
- However, drinking too much lemon water can have health risks, such as damaging tooth enamel and irritating mouth sores.
- Here’s how much lemon water you should drink a day to receive the health benefits.
- This article was medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Lemon water is a much healthier option than other flavored drinks, like juices or non-diet sodas, which are often loaded with sugar.
Plus, by adding lemon to your water, you’ll be adding some key vitamins and nutrients to your drink, in addition to a fresh flavour with few health risks.
Here’s what you should know about the health benefits of drinking lemon water, including how often you should drink it and how much.
Lemon water provides some vitamin C
The juice from one lemon contains around 30 mg of vitamin C, which is 33% of the 90 mg recommended daily allowance (RDA) for males, and 40% of the 75 mg RDA for females, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the US National Institutes of Health.
Vitamin C keeps us healthy in the following ways:
- Helps your body heal. Our body needs vitamin C to make collagen, a vital protein which forms part of the connective tissue we need to heal wounds.
- Supports your immune system. Vitamin C can help reduce the strength of your cold symptoms and fight off illness-causing viruses and bacteria.
- Improve iron absorption. Iron is essential for the cells in your body to survive and grow. “I often recommend lemon water with meals to enhance iron absorption, especially for athletes and individuals with anemia,” says Amy Stephens, MS, RDN, CDE, a registered dietitian.
It’s worth noting that other citrus fruits contain more vitamin C than lemons. For example, one medium orange and three-quarters of a cup of grapefruit juice both contain 70 mg of vitamin C. So you can try switching up your flavored citrus water drinks for added benefits.
Lemon water can aid weight loss
Since lemon water is flavorful and low in calories, it’s a great substitute for less healthy drinks like sodas, iced teas, and juices – which often contain added sugar. By drinking lemon water in place of these sugary beverages, it can help you restrict calorie intake and potentially aid weight loss efforts.
For example, a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that for overweight or obese adults, replacing high-caloric drinks with water or non-caloric drinks resulted in an average weight loss of 2% to 2.5% after six months.
However, whether or not lemon water can help you lose weight when compared to drinking regular water has not been proven. The bottom line is that drinking lemon water as a replacement for higher calorie drinks can be part of a healthier diet, and potentially, a useful weight loss strategy.
Lemon water may help prevent kidney stones
The citric acid in lemon juice can also help prevent the development of kidney stones. The citrate, a salt, in the acid supports this preventative mechanism by binding to the calcium in your urine.
According to a 2014 study published by the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, consuming the equivalent of four lemons a day mixed with two litres of water was found to “significantly increase urine citrate levels.”
These higher citrate levels can prevent the formation of kidney stones, or stop the stones from getting bigger and becoming more painful. In fact, the National Kidney Foundation recommends mixing lemon juice or lime juice with water as one of the ways to prevent kidney stones.
Lemon water freshens breath
The citric acid in lemon juice can also kill the bacteria that causes bad breath.
However, too much citric acid can make your breath worse by triggering gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD). GERD can cause your stomach acid to rise up through your esophagus and into your mouth, resulting in bad breath.
How much lemon water should you drink?
Stephens recommends using the juice from two to three lemons (about four to six tablespoons) throughout the day, and drinking one or two glasses of lemon water with meals, and one glass in between meals.
But don’t necessarily add lemon to every glass of water you drink. Lemon juice is highly acidic, so if you drink too much lemon water, it may have some negative side effects.
For example, citric acid – like what’s in lemons – can erode tooth enamel and damage your teeth, the American Dental Association (ADA) warns. That’s why Stephens says to drink lemon water through a straw – so it comes into less contact with your teeth.
And if you have a mouth sore, the ADA says you should avoid lemon water altogether, because the acid can irritate it.
But overall, for many people, drinking a few glasses of lemon water each day can have health benefits, especially if it’s replacing other sugary beverages.
Related articles from our Health Reference library:
- How to get protein as a vegan from fresh, whole foods
- The science-backed benefits of vitamin D and how to get enough of it
- Why it’s so important for people with diabetes to limit their carb intake
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