What’s so special about lemon water? Maybe you’ve heard it’s good for you, but you’re not sure if there’s anything to it. Or maybe you already drink lemon water and you’re wondering if it’s giving you any kind of health boost. The short answer is yes: “Lemons, being citrus fruits, have a high amount of vitamin C,” explains Melissa Ann Prest, D.C.N., M.S., R.D.N., a board-certified specialist in renal nutrition. “Drinking water with an ounce of lemon juice can provide about 13% of your daily vitamin C requirement. It also has small amounts of potassium, thiamin, vitamin B6, and folate.”
Of course, part of the benefit of drinking lemon water is simply that it helps you stay hydrated, which is important for overall health. So, “if consuming more water flavored with lemon juice helps you meet your daily fluid goals, then it is a great habit,” Prest explains. Anything that encourages you to consume more water is worthwhile, says Prest: “Try adding in limes and lemons, mint and cucumber, or berries to enhance the flavor of water and encourage positive drinking habits.”
As for the hyped-up benefits of drinking lemon water specifically, some don’t have actual science behind them, but others are legit, says Laura Neville, N.D., a naturopathic physician based in Portland, OR. Let’s dive into 7 potential benefits of drinking a bracing cup of lemon water, plus a few other ways to get the tart goodness from that bright-yellow burst of vitamin C.
Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water
1. It stabilizes your appetite
Lemon water can prevent spikes in hunger thanks to its blood-sugar-balancing pectin (a type of soluble fiber) and hydrating mojo, says Neville. If you’re still snacky after a meal, mix 1 cup of warm water with the juice of 1/2 lemon and a pinch of lemon zest (feel free to add a drizzle of honey).
2. It revs up your energy
Two types of vitamins give lemons pick-me-up power. Their vitamin C increases absorption of iron—helpful, since having too little can cause fatigue. B vitamins in lemons also assist with energy production, says Neville. Try blending one sliced lemon (including the peel; add a little water if needed), then freeze in an ice cube tray. Toss into water for a quick refresher or into a smoothie filled with iron-rich kale.
3. It protects your cells
Lemons and their juice boast high levels of vitamin C, with just one ounce providing about 13% of your daily requirement, according to Prest. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, counteracting cell damage that accumulates over time and may even be a factor in problems like cancer and heart disease. “It is known from large population-based studies that diets high in fruits and vegetables are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer, and with increased longevity,” says Prest. “Consuming lemon water that contains vitamin C, potassium, and B vitamins as part of a diet rich in other fruits and vegetables can be useful for disease prevention.”
4. It promotes clear skin
Lemon water may help your journey to clear skin, thanks to that vitamin C. Prest explains that Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that may help in reducing fine lines and improve the overall appearance of the skin. However, it’s not a miracle cure: “Don’t just rely on lemon water for your skin,” Prest says. “Consuming fruits, and vegetables high in vitamin C like potatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, and citrus fruits in addition to wearing sunscreen will help to fight damage from free radicals that affect the skin’s appearance.”
5. It controls bloating
Lemon water may aid digestion and cut down on bloat. Staying hydrated by drinking lemon water “can help with bowel motility and regularity so you are less bloated,” Prest explains. Lemon water is also a decent source of potassium, a mineral that helps keep sodium levels in check, potentially reducing any salt-induced bloating.
6. It aids with weight loss
Research suggests that staying hydrated is a key part of any weight loss journey for a number of reasons related to optimal bodily functioning. Peak hydration levels help to stimulate the metabolism, boost the effects of exercise, and allow the brain to better respond to hunger cues. Try beginning your day by drinking a full eight ounce glass of lemon water to help meet your daily hydration goals.
7. It helps kick kidney stones to the curb
Studies show that lemon reduces your risk of kidney stones by “preventing stone formation due to increased citrate concentration which inhibits the crystallization of calcium which is responsible for stone formation,” Prest explains. In general, staying hydrated by drinking three to four liters of water per day (1 gallon of water) is recommended to help prevent kidney stones for those at risk, Prest continues. “A gallon of plain water may get boring, so adding lemon can be refreshing, provide an increase in citrate, and help someone achieve their fluid goals.”
Marisa Cohen is a contributing editor in the Hearst Lifestyle Group’s Health Newsroom, who has covered health, nutrition, parenting, and the arts for dozens of magazines and websites over the past two decades. She has also appeared on two game shows, has seen more than 400 Broadway shows, and really wishes she knew how to tap dance.
Shannen Zitz is a Freelance Editorial Assistant at Prevention who recently graduated from the State University of New York at Cortland with an English degree. She loves all things fashion, beauty, and wellness. If she’s not reading or writing, you can probably find her frequenting the skincare and makeup forums on Reddit.