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How much lemon juice is OK in a day?

Lemon juice is a popular ingredient used to add flavor to foods and drinks. It provides a tangy, acidic taste that enhances the flavor of both sweet and savory dishes. Lemon juice contains beneficial nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and citric acid. However, regularly drinking too much can cause side effects due to its acidity.

This article provides details on lemon juice and its nutrition profile. It covers how much lemon juice is safe to consume daily, potential benefits and downsides to drinking lemon juice, and how to incorporate it into your diet.

Nutrition Facts of Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is extracted from lemons, which are small, yellow, oval-shaped citrus fruits. Here is an overview of the nutrition found in 1 cup (240 ml) of raw lemon juice (1):

Nutrient Amount
Calories 61
Protein 1.6 grams
Carbs 15.4 grams
Sugar 11.8 grams
Fiber 0.6 grams
Vitamin C 93.6 mg (156% DV)
Potassium 303 mg (9% DV)
Citric Acid 5.4 grams

Lemon juice is low in calories, carbs, and protein. Its main nutrients are vitamin C and citric acid.

One cup provides over 150% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin C, an essential nutrient and antioxidant. It’s also high in citric acid, which provides the tangy flavor (1).

Though not present in large amounts, lemon juice contains some potassium, a mineral important for heart health, fluid balance, and muscle and nerve function (2).

Daily Lemon Juice Recommendations

There are no official recommendations for how much lemon juice to consume daily.

Some sources suggest limiting it to 2 tablespoons (30 ml) per day diluted in water, due to its acidity. Others propose a range of 2–8 ounces (60–240 ml) (3, 4).

Drinking lemon juice in moderation is likely safe for most people.

However, there are a few groups that may need to limit their intake, including:

  • People with GERD or heartburn: Lemon juice can exacerbate symptoms.
  • Those with dental erosion: Lemon juice’s acidity can erode tooth enamel.
  • Individuals taking certain medications: Lemon juice can interfere with some medications.

Additionally, drinking large amounts frequently may cause digestive issues due to its acidity.

For people without sensitivities, up to 8 ounces (240 ml) daily, diluted in water or tea, is likely fine.

Benefits of Drinking Lemon Juice

Below are some of the top health benefits associated with drinking lemon juice:

High in Vitamin C

Lemon juice is an excellent source of vitamin C, providing over 150% of the RDI in just 1 cup (240 ml) (1).

Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that acts as an antioxidant in your body. It’s essential for immune health, collagen production, iron absorption, and cellular function (5).

While deficient in vitamin C, most people don’t need mega-doses like that found in lemon juice. Still, its high vitamin C content can provide your daily needs in just a small serving.

Boosts Potassium Intake

Lemons contain some potassium, a mineral critical for nerve signaling, fluid balance, and muscle contractions (6).

Potassium works with sodium to regulate your body’s water balance. It’s estimated that only around 2% of adults in the US get enough potassium in their diet (7).

Drinking a glass of lemon juice can help boost your daily potassium levels.

Aids Digestion

Some research indicates that lemon juice may aid digestion. Specifically, the citric acid in lemon juice assists with digestion by stimulating the production of gastric juices (8).

Drinking lemon water may also help relieve symptoms of indigestion, heartburn, and bloating after meals.

Supports Weight Loss

As part of a healthy diet, some evidence suggests that lemon juice may aid weight loss. One study found that daily lemon consumption combined with green tea was effective at reducing body weight (9).

While promising, longer and larger studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.

That said, lemon juice is very low in calories, making it a healthy beverage choice for weight management.

Helps Prevent Kidney Stones

Citric acid, which is found abundantly in lemon juice, may help prevent kidney stones from forming (10).

One study showed that drinking just over half a cup (100 ml) of lemon juice concentrated at 48–195 g/l of citric acid daily increased citrate levels in urine, a factor that favors a lower kidney stone risk (11).

More research is needed, but if you’re prone to kidney stones, lemon juice is a simple addition that may help.

Downsides of Too Much Lemon Juice

While lemon juice provides benefits, regularly consuming large amounts may cause some downsides as well.

Can Erode Tooth Enamel

Drinking lemon juice long-term can erode tooth enamel. Acids like citric acid found in lemon juice can weaken and degrade tooth enamel over time (12).

One study showed that lemon juice caused more enamel erosion during a 24-hour period than carbonated drinks like soda (13).

To minimize the risk of erosion, avoid swishing or holding lemon juice in your mouth. Additionally, wait at least 30 minutes after consuming lemon juice before brushing your teeth.

May Cause Heartburn

Frequent heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can sometimes be made worse by drinking lemon juice. The acidity can relax the esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach contents to flow up into the esophagus (14).

If you have frequent heartburn or GERD, limit your lemon juice intake and avoid drinking it before bedtime.

Can Irritate the Mouth

Like other acidic foods and beverages, straight lemon juice can sometimes cause mouth irritation and inflammation. Symptoms like mouth sores, pain, and bleeding gums have been reported with the frequent consumption of lemon juice (15).

Diluting lemon juice before drinking it reduces its acidity, making side effects like mouth sensitivity less likely.

May Interact With Medications

Lemon juice and its compounds may interact with some medications. For instance, it can interfere with drugs for heart conditions, high blood pressure, allergies, anxiety, and depression (15, 16).

If taking prescribed medication, check with your healthcare provider before regularly consuming high amounts of lemon juice.

How to Add Lemon Juice to Your Diet

Below are simple ideas for getting more lemon juice in your diet:

  • Add freshly squeezed lemon juice to water, herbal tea, or green tea.
  • Use lemon juice as a salad dressing ingredient or marinade.
  • Squeeze lemon juice over cooked vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, and kale.
  • Mix into grains like rice, quinoa, and barley.
  • Blend into smoothies, protein shakes, and yogurt.
  • Include as part of salad dressings, sauces, and marinades.
  • Use as a base for lemonade or other homemade drinks.

For best flavor, use fresh-squeezed lemon juice. To reduce acidity, dilute with water or mix with other ingredients.

The Bottom Line

Lemon juice provides vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients that offer health benefits. However, regularly drinking excessive amounts may cause issues like dental erosion and irritation due to its acidity.

For most people, moderate amounts of lemon juice like 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) per day, diluted in water or tea, are considered safe as part of a healthy diet.

Lemon juice is delicious and easy to incorporate into many dishes and beverages. Just be mindful of your intake if you have sensitivities to acidity, GERD, or take certain medications.