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The Side Effects of Lemon Water and How Much Is Safe to Drink?

 Drinking a tall and refreshing glass of lemon water is the very first thing many of us do first thing in the morning. After all, lemon water is known to have countless health benefits, starting from improving one’s digestion and aiding weight loss and ending with improved skin health and anti-inflammatory effect. But like it is with anything in this life, you can have too much of a good thing.
Drinking excessive amounts of lemon water can worsen certain health conditions and have some pretty serious damage on its own, too. Listed below are 6 such dangerous side effects of drinking excessive amounts of lemon water.

1. Lemon water can damage your teeth 

Excess Lemon Water Side Effects smile
Lemon water is highly acidic, and like most acidic foods and drinks, it can demineralize your tooth enamel, which is the natural barrier that protects your teeth from damage and decay. In fact, research has demonstrated that lemon juice has a corrosive effect on the teeth that's very similar to that of soft drinks. If you find that your teeth have become more sensitive to temperature ever since you started drinking lemon water daily, it may be a sign of enamel depletion.
Luckily, there are a few tips you could to prevent the erosion of your tooth enamel. Firstly, avoid brushing your teeth for an hour before and after consuming lemon water. In addition, drinking water from a straw and having lots of plain water alongside lemon water could help protect your tooth enamel from damage.

2. Having too much lemon water can lead to frequent urination and dehydration

Excess Lemon Water Side Effects woman crossing her arms in front of her
Lemon juice is high in vitamin C, which is a known diuretic, i.e. an agent capable of increasing urine output and getting rid of excess fluids in the body. Sometimes, this effect may be too strong, and as a result, the lemon water will draw out too much water from the body and flush out the necessary minerals and electrolytes from the body. This results in frequent trips to the bathroom and dehydration, especially if you don't drink regular water or other drinks alongside the lemon water.
Therefore, it's advisable to control the amount of lemon in your lemon water - if you find that it makes you take too many trips to the bathroom, reduce the amount of lemon juice and see if it helps. In the case that the diuretic effect is especially bothersome and you suspect that a different problem may be causing it, you can try not drinking any lemon water for a week and see how it affects the frequency of urination. Needless to say, if the problem persists, it warrants a phone call to the doctor.

3. It could worsen canker sores

Excess Lemon Water Side Effects woman looking upset in front of the mirror

Canker sores are small ulcers in the mouth that are painful and bothersome, but they typically clear up on their own within a week or two. Drinking lemon water too often may worsen canker sores and make them heal slower according to the American Dental Association. Furthermore, research states excessive intake of citric acid, abundant in lemons, may actually lead to a canker sore, although the underlying mechanism is poorly understood.

Thus, it's recommended to stay away from lemon water if you're suffering from recurrent canker sores. It's also highly advised to skip the lemon water while you have a canker sore and wait for it to heal completely, even if you only get occasional canker sores.

4. Lemon water can cause serious sunburns

Excess Lemon Water Side Effects using ointment to treat sunburn on arm
It's important to always wash your hands and any areas of your body that you might have spilled lemon juice or lemon water on with plenty of water before heading out in the sun. Or else, you may end up with painful, often blistering sunburns, as well as sunspots that are commonly known as the margarita burn.
The official name of the condition is phytophotodermatitis, and these are painful and slow-healing sunburns that result when juices of certain fruit and vegetables remain on the skin and are exposed to UV. Lemon and lime juice acids are the most common culprits behind the margarita burn, hence the common name.

5. Too much lemon water could affect your digestive system

Excess Lemon Water Side Effects man with heartburn
Lemon water is well-known to relieve indigestion and be beneficial for the digestive system overall, but drinking too much of it can actually have the opposite effect and do some damage to your stomach. Since lemon juice is acidic, as we've previously mentioned, squeezing too much of it in your water or drinking too much lemon water altogether can trigger acid reflux, especially if you're prone to suffering from it, to begin with.
Excessive amounts of lemon water are also known to worsen gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a malady characterized by symptoms like heartburn, nausea, and vomiting. Both conditions occur when the esophageal sphincter muscle doesn't work properly and allows stomach acid to spill up into the esophagus. Lastly, some evidence suggests that lemon water can worsen peptic ulcers. So, if you're suffering from heartburn or any other condition we've mentioned above, consult your health provider before drinking lemon water.

6. Excess amounts of lemon water have been linked to migraines

Excess Lemon Water Side Effects woman suffering from a headache
This last side effect will surprise you, but there's actually some scientific evidence to suggest that the excessive consumption of lemon water and citrus fruit, in general, can trigger migraines and headachesWebMD suggests that this may happen due to an allergic reaction to a compound naturally present in lemons and other citrus fruits called tyramine.
This is exactly why your doctor may advise you against drinking lemon water and eating citrus fruits (as well as other foods high in tyramine, such as aged cheeses, smoked fish, cured meats) if you suffer from recurrent migraines and headaches. 

How much lemon water is safe to drink?

Excess Lemon Water Side Effects, lemon water jug
The question follows naturally, so how much lemon water isn't too much and will be safe for you to consume? As it is with most things health-related, this will depend on your specific body, age, and underlying health issues: e.g. it's not recommended for patients suffering from peptic ulcers or acid reflux to drink lemon water at all, as this may worsen their symptoms. It also recommended to never drink lemon water at restaurants, as a 2007 study found that the majority of lemons tested across different restaurants in the US harbored dangerous germs, including E.coli.
All that said, if you're generally healthy and are aware of the side effects and ways of minimizing their risks we've listed above, drinking one 4 oz (120 ml) glass of lemon water first thing in the morning or before bed seems to be safe. Of course, you can always start with even lower doses and adjust the amount of lemon juice to your preferences and specific needs, too.
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