The key added ingredient in lemon water is lemon juice, which is one of the most highly antioxidant juices, according to a study published in the "Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture" in January 2011. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals, or unstable oxygen molecules, in your body that damage cells and tissues and increase your risk of illness and disease. Drinking lemon water will increase your intake of some of the antioxidants you need for good health.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid, is one of the most important antioxidants. It's essential for protein metabolism, production of neurotransmitters and collagen --- a key component of connective tissue. Vitamin C also plays a role in wound healing and helps your body absorb iron. It is the second-most prevalent nutrient in lemons behind potassium, with the juice of one large lemon yielding about 18.6 g of vitamin C. Your body cannot produce vitamin C, so you need to get it from food and beverages such as lemon water.
The juice of one large lemon contains about 3 international units, or IU, of vitamin A, which helps you a little bit in meeting the recommended dietary allowance of 3000 IU, if you're male, or 2,310 IU, if you're female. Vitamin A is best known for promoting healthy vision, but it's also important for bone growth, cell production, reproduction and regulating the immune system. It may also make white blood cells more effective infection fighters. Infection increases the levels of free radicals in your body, so as an immune system-booster, vitamin A further helps reduce free radicals.
Lemon water also contains carotenoids, some of which your body can convert into vitamin A. For instance, one large lemon contains 2 mcg of beta cryptoxanthin. One large lemon also contains 7 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin combined, although these two carotenoids cannot be converted into vitamin A. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, some studies show that carotenoids can act as antioxidants, but study findings are mixed.
To make lemon water to increase your intake of antioxidants, add the juice of half of one fresh medium or large lemon into half a glass of water. Drink the lemon water through a straw whenever possible to reduce acid erosion of your teeth. Also, keep in mind that lemon water may cause side effects such as heartburn, or oral allergy syndrome --- if you are allergic to lemons.
- "Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture"; Juice Components and Antioxidant Capacity Of Four Tunisian Citrus Varieties; M.S. Tounsi, et al.; January 2011
- Rice University: Antioxidants and Free Radicals
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Lemon Juice, Raw
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin A and Carotenoids
- Joyous Health; Lemon and Water -- How Much and Why; Joy McCarthy, R.H.N.; March 2010