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Why does orange juice make me feel better in the morning?

Waking up in the morning can be a struggle for many people. Hitting the snooze button multiple times, dragging yourself out of bed, and starting the day with zero energy is an all too familiar routine. However, opening the fridge to pull out a cold glass of orange juice can provide a bright spot to an otherwise groggy morning.

Orange juice is a breakfast staple for good reason. That familiar sweet and tangy taste perks up your tastebuds and seems to give you an instant energy boost. Additionally, science shows that there are real health benefits to drinking orange juice in the morning that can help get your day off to a good start.

The Nutritional Profile of Orange Juice

Freshly squeezed orange juice is packed with key vitamins and minerals that deliver a number of benefits to your body and brain to help you feel more refreshed and energized in the morning.

Vitamin C

One of the most well-known nutrients in citrus fruits like oranges is vitamin C. A 6 oz glass of orange juice contains about 70 mg of vitamin C, providing 84% of your recommended daily intake. Vitamin C is crucial for immune system function and acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals and prevent cell damage.


Orange juice is also high in folate, with about 50 mcg in a 6 oz serving. Folate is a B vitamin that is important for cell growth and division. It helps metabolize proteins and produce red blood cells and neurotransmitters in the brain.


With 207 mg per 6 oz serving, orange juice can provide 5% of your potassium needs for the day. This mineral helps regulate fluid balance, nerve signals, and blood pressure.

Other Nutrients

Orange juice also contains small amounts of calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, B1, B2, and E. In total, the combination of vitamins, minerals, and natural sugars like fructose in orange juice deliver a nutritious punch that can perk you up in the morning.

How Orange Juice Boosts Energy

There are a few key ways that drinking orange juice can give you an energy boost to help you start your day feeling more awake and alert:

Natural Sugars

Orange juice contains natural sugars like sucrose, glucose, and fructose that can quickly raise blood sugar levels. Your body likes to maintain stable blood sugar, so when those levels rise it signals the pancreas to produce insulin which takes sugar from the bloodstream and carries it to cells to be used as energy.

Vitamin C

In addition to its immune boosting properties, vitamin C plays an important role in energy production. The adrenal glands use vitamin C to produce epinephrine and norepinephrine hormones that stimulate wakefulness and energy production.


Having low potassium levels can leave you feeling fatigued. The potassium in orange juice helps replenish this mineral to keep energy up. Potassium carries nutrients into cells that are broken down to release energy.


Folate is used to create new cells and produce DNA and RNA. It is especially important for generating new red blood cells to carry oxygen, which is needed for energy production.

Orange Juice Nutrition Facts

Here is the nutritional profile for 6 oz of fresh orange juice:

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 112 6%
Total Fat 0.5 g 1%
Sodium 2 mg 0%
Potassium 497 mg 14%
Total Carbs 25 g 9%
Sugars 21 g N/A
Protein 2 g 4%
Vitamin C 124 mg 138%
Calcium 26 mg 2%
Iron 0.5 mg 3%
Vitamin A 270 IU 5%
Vitamin B1 0.2 mg 15%
Vitamin B2 0.1 mg 6%
Folate 54 mcg 14%

Choosing the Best Orange Juice

To get the most nutritional bang for your buck from orange juice, here are some tips for choosing the best option:

Fresh Squeezed

Freshly squeezed orange juice that is made right before drinking contains the most nutrients. It offers the pure and unprocessed juice extracted directly from oranges.


Choose orange juice with pulp which leaves some of the fiber from the orange in the juice. Fiber helps control blood sugar spikes.

100% Orange Juice

Check the label to be sure your juice contains 100% orange juice without added sugars or preservatives.

Not from Concentrate

“Not from concentrate” on the label indicates the juice is freshly squeezed and has not been processed into a concentrate and reconstituted.

The Best Time to Drink Orange Juice

Drinking orange juice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach maximizes its benefits. Here’s why it’s best to drink your orange juice early:

Spikes Metabolism

The natural sugars in orange juice give your metabolism a boost after fasting through the night. This helps your body start burning energy efficiently first thing.

Offsets Cortisol

Cortisol levels surge in the morning, which can make you feel groggy. The vitamin C in orange juice helps balance out the effects of cortisol.

Lowers Blood Sugar

Despite the sugar it contains, orange juice can actually help regulate blood sugar when consumed early in the day on an empty stomach.

Aids Digestion

Drinking orange juice with pulp provides fluid and nutrients that can stimulate digestive processes to improve gut function.

Potential Downsides of Orange Juice

While orange juice has many benefits, there are some potential downsides to consider as well if you drink it in excess:

High in Sugar

Although orange juice contains natural sugars, it is still high in overall sugar content with about 21 grams per 6 oz serving. Consuming too much can lead to weight gain and other issues.


The citric acid in orange juice gives it a low pH that can wear down tooth enamel over time and aggravate reflux issues.

Lacks Fiber

Oranges themselves are a high fiber food, but juicing strips away most of the pulp and fiber, which helps regulate energy levels.

May Interact with Medications

The compounds in orange juice can sometimes interact with drugs metabolized in the liver, potentially causing high levels of medications in the blood.

The Bottom Line

Enjoying a glass of fresh orange juice in the morning can be an excellent way to start your day feeling energized and refreshed. The vitamin C and other nutrients help give you a mental and physical boost.

Drink orange juice in moderation within a balanced diet, and be sure to choose fresh varieties without added sugar. Pair it with a source of protein and healthy fats to help control energy crashes later in the morning.

So next time you need a little morning pick-me-up, skip the coffee and reach for a refreshing glass of orange juice to help wake you up in a healthier way.