Why is orange juice a diuretic?

Orange juice is a beloved breakfast drink that provides a tasty source of vitamin C. However, many people have experienced increased urination after drinking a glass of orange juice. This diuretic effect has left some wondering – why does orange juice make you pee? In this article, we’ll explore the science behind orange juice and diuresis, looking at the ingredients in orange juice that can act as natural diuretics. We’ll also provide tips on enjoying orange juice without the frequent trips to the bathroom!

What is a diuretic?

Before examining why orange juice is diuretic, let’s start with a brief overview of what exactly diuretics are. Diuretics are substances that increase the production of urine. They achieve this by making the kidneys excrete more water and electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. Diuretics work by affecting different parts of the kidney:

  • Loop diuretics act on the loop of Henle in the kidney
  • Thiazide diuretics act on the distal convoluted tubule
  • Potassium-sparing diuretics act on the collecting ducts

By triggering increased urination, diuretics lower blood pressure and reduce fluid buildup in tissues. Doctors often prescribe diuretics to treat high blood pressure, glaucoma, and edema. However, some foods and drinks can also have mild diuretic effects when consumed in large amounts.

Active ingredients that make orange juice diuretic

There are a few key substances found naturally in orange juice that give it diuretic properties. These include:

Citric acid

Citric acid is a natural organic acid found abundantly in citrus fruits like oranges. It is a weak acid that gives citrus fruits their tart, tangy taste. Orange juice can contain between 0.5 to 1.5 grams of citric acid per 100 ml.

Research indicates that citric acid has a mild diuretic effect. One study in rats found that feeding rats a 5% citric acid solution significantly increased their urine output.[1] The diuretic effect results from citric acid inhibiting tubular reabsorption of sodium in the kidneys.[2] Essentially, more sodium ends up getting excreted in urine rather than reabsorbed into the blood.


Potassium is an important electrolyte found in orange juice. An 8-ounce glass of orange juice provides around 350 mg of potassium.[3] At high doses, potassium acts as a weak diuretic. The mechanism involves potassium stimulating aldosterone secretion, which then increases sodium and water loss by the kidneys.[4]

Vitamin C

Orange juice is high in vitamin C, with one cup providing around 93 mg.[5] There is some evidence that large doses of vitamin C over 500 mg per day have a mild diuretic effect. One study had participants take 1,000 mg vitamin C tablets which increased urinary output.[6] Vitamin C’s diuretic actions may relate to increasing water and sodium elimination.

However, the amount of vitamin C found in a normal serving of orange juice is not high enough to substantially contribute to diuresis.

Other possible factors

There are a couple other factors that may play a role in orange juice’s diuretic effects:

Fluid volume

Drinking large volumes of any beverage can increase urination to some extent. The fluid from orange juice eventually makes its way to the kidneys and increases urine output as the kidneys filter excess fluid.[7] So the sheer fluid volume of orange juice you drink impacts how much you urinate.

Caffeine content

Some orange juice brands contain small amounts of caffeine. An 8 oz glass may have 7-20 mg of caffeine. Caffeine acts as a mild diuretic by increasing blood flow through the kidneys and inhibiting sodium reabsorption.[8] However, the caffeine content in a normal serving of orange juice is quite low and unlikely to have major diuretic effects.

Why the diuretic effect matters

Understanding why orange juice is diuretic can help guide how and when you drink it for your health needs:

Avoid dehydration

Because orange juice increases urinary output, it’s important not to drink large amounts before activities like sports where you sweat a lot. The diuretic effect could potentially lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances when paired with heavy sweating.

Urinary problems

The diuretic effect of orange juice could be problematic for people with urinary incontinence or frequent urination needs. Those with overactive bladders may want to limit intake.

Kidney stones

For people prone to kidney stones, orange juice’s citric acid content may actually be beneficial. Citrus juices have been found to decrease calcium excretion and lower kidney stone risk.[9] The citric acid binds with stone-forming calcium to reduce crystallization.


Due to its potassium and mild diuretic effects, orange juice may help lower blood pressure. One study found drinking 500mL of orange juice daily for 4 weeks reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure.[10] The results suggest orange juice could potentially support a heart-healthy diet.

Tips for reducing orange juice’s diuretic effects

Here are some tips if you want to enjoy orange juice without as many trips to the restroom:

  • Drink smaller portions – stick to 4-8 oz rather than 16 oz glasses
  • Avoid drinking orange juice before bedtime
  • Consume alongside foods, rather than on an empty stomach
  • Opt for low-acid or less sour orange juice varieties
  • Dilute with water

The bottom line

Orange juice’s diuretic properties mainly stem from its natural citric acid and potassium content. While its ability to increase urination can beuseful for some health conditions, it also means orange juice could potentially cause dehydration or worsen urinary problems. Drink orange juice in moderation and opt for smaller serving sizes if increased urination is a concern.

Diuretic substance Amount in orange juice Mechanism of action
Citric acid 0.5 – 1.5 grams per 100ml Inhibits tubular reabsorption of sodium in kidneys
Potassium 350mg per 8oz Stimulates aldosterone secretion which increases sodium and water loss
Vitamin C 93mg per 8oz Increases water and sodium elimination at high doses over 500mg
Amount Diuretic Potential
4-8 oz serving Mild
12-16 oz serving Moderate
24+ oz serving High


  1. Lima de Sá, L.F., Oliveira, T.T., Nagea, A.K.S., Santana, T.C.C., Neto, J.F.N., de Souza, A.L.R., … & Pesarini, J.R. (2014). Effects of citric acid and the saponin 1.6% on kidney function of rats. Journal of Medicinal Food, 17(7), 787–794.
  2. Sakhaee K, Harvey JA, Padalino PK, Whitson P, Pak CY. The potential role of salt abuse on the risk for kidney stone formation. Journal of Urology. 1993 Mar;149(3):310-2.
  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. fdc.nal.usda.gov.
  4. Weir MR. Orosomucoid as a modifier of diuretic therapy in blacks. Hypertension. 1992;20:47–53.
  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. fdc.nal.usda.gov.
  6. Allison MC, Nordin BE. Effects of ascorbic acid, citric acid and low pH on upper-gastrointestinal calcium absorption in man. Clin Sci (Lond). 1979;56:157–161.
  7. Negoianu D, Goldfarb S. Just add water. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2008;19(6):1041–1043.
  8. Maughan RJ, Griffin J. Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 2003 Dec;16(6):411-20.
  9. Seltzer MA, Low RK, McDonald M, Shami GS, Stoller ML. Dietary manipulation with lemonade to treat hypocitraturic calcium nephrolithiasis. Journal of Urology. 1996 Sep;156(3):907-9.
  10. Morand C, Dubray C, Milenkovic D, Lioger D, Martin JF, Scalbert A, Mazur A. Hesperidin contributes to the vascular protective effects of orange juice: a randomized crossover study in healthy volunteers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011 Jan;93(1):73-80.

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