If there’s one thing celebrities love, it’s starting the day with a glass of lemon water. Martha Stewart drinks “the juice of a whole lemon every single morning, and green juice. And lots of water.” Both supermodel Naomi Campbell and Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman reach for a glass of water with lemon, first thing in the morning. Even Beyoncé tries to drink one gallon of water with lemon every single day. But are there any real benefits to the morning ritual, or is it little more than a cheap way to start your day like a famous person? (And if that’s the only reason you’re doing it, I don’t blame you. I do pretty much anything I can to start my day like Beyoncé, too.)
There are some benefits to drinking lemon water first thing in the morning, though the scientific evidence is somewhat minimal and much of it is tied to the vitamin C in lemons. According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, the juice of half a lemon has 9.3 milligrams of vitamin C, about 10 percent of an average human’s recommended intake of the nutrient. (To be specific, adults should consume between 65 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day, as Katherine Zeratsky, RD, LD, explained to the Mayo Clinic.)
So starting your day with a hit of vitamin C can certainly be good for your health, especially if it gets you to hit your daily requirement of the essential nutrient. According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin C is an antioxidant and can help regenerate other antioxidants, boosts your immune system, and prevents scurvy. And as healthy lifestyle coach Liz Traines explained to Extra Crispy, “lemon and water in the morning can create an alkaline environment in the body,” which helps one’s body “thrive.” (It should be noted here that the health benefits of alkalizing your body haven’t been studied rigorously enough to make a concrete statement, either way, so take that Goop-friendly advice as you will.)
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Other benefits of drinking lemon water in the morning, as explained to Reader’s Digest by registered dietician Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, include improving organ function, promoting regular bowel movements, and even boosting your metabolism. But these are also just benefits of staying hydrated, with or without citrus fruits.
So ultimately, drinking water with lemon isn’t significantly more beneficial for your health than drinking a regular old glass of water. Really, the biggest benefit of adding lemon to your water seems to be to trick yourself into drinking more water throughout the day, and that’s probably a good thing, especially since, by some surveys, as many as 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
So drink all the lemon water you want in the morning, even if there is no evidence that doing so will turn you into Beyoncé. At least you’ll be hydrated, and better prepared to take on the day.