What Are The Side Effects Of Lemon Juice?

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Exceeding the recommended daily intake of lemon juice can cause enamel erosion, gut irritation, heartburn, and kidney and gall bladder stones. Lemon juice used to de-tan can make fair skin more susceptible to sunburn. Avoid drinking lemon juice along with milk, yogurt, tomatoes, or cucumbers. Drink plenty of water when detoxing with warm lemon water to avoid dehydration.

The refreshing tartness of lemon juice is a delight to the palate and can take a simple salad or grilled fish to a new level. The vitamin C it is loaded with is also legendary. But could too much lemon juice in your diet pose a problem? Some side effects of this tangy juice may warrant attention.

Tooth Decay From Acidity

The high level of acidity in lemon juice causes tooth erosion. In one study of a range of non-alcoholic drinks, it was found that lemon juice caused much higher levels of erosion of tooth enamel than most other drinks.1

Heartburn, Ulcers, And GERD

Overdoing your lemon juice intake – even if you are just having it regularly in your food and not in medical doses – can have repercussions. The acidic juice can irritate the lining of your stomach and your esophagus, bringing on a bout of heartburn or acid reflux. This is because it activates the stomach enzyme pepsin, responsible for breaking down protein. When your digestive juices move backward, up to the throat and esophagus, you experience the burning sensation associated with acid reflux. Studies have not, however, been able to definitively prove the acidity in the lemon is the root problem. Still, for those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn, avoiding too much lemon juice may be one of the many dietary changes needed to beat the problem.2 Besides GERD, those with stomach ulcers may find that having too much lemon interferes with the healing process.


Lemon is a natural diuretic and warm lemon water is a popular detox drink since it helps the body purge waste through increased urination. Unfortunately, if you don’t get adequate water into your system, you may end up dehydrated.3

Kidney And Gallbladder Problems

Oxalate molecules present in lemons can crystallize in the body when taken in high quantities, causing kidney and gallbladder stones. They adhere to calcium molecules, preventing their absorption by the body.4

Diarrhea, Nausea, And Abdominal Cramps

When the body gets too much vitamin C, it is unable to absorb it all. This excess unabsorbed vitamin C from lemon juice then causes gastrointestinal disturbances because of osmosis as the body tries to restore balance. Nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea are typical symptoms of the problem.5

How Much Is Too Much?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one lemon has about 19 mg of vitamin C, which is just right to make a glass of lemonade. The body needs about 90 mg of the vitamin every day if you are a man and 75 mg if you are female. The tolerable upper levels for adults is 2,000 mg, beyond which the body begins to face problems.6

Sunburn-Like Effects On Your Skin

Lemon juice is a popular anti-tan remedy used to bleach the skin, but this can backfire too. When applied on the skin of a light-skinned person, lemon juice can actually increase the chances of sunburn. This condition called phytophotodermatitis (lime disease/margarita photodermatitis) involves a phototoxic reaction to lemon or lime juice and can follow after a mere 2 and a half minutes out in the sun with lemon juice on the skin. Dark spots and blisters are often a fallout.7 The reaction is attributed to the organic chemical compound furocoumarin in lemons that is “excited” by UVA (ultraviolet A) radiation.8

Ayurvedic View On Lemon Juice

Ayurveda believes that certain foods are not compatible and their consumption together can cause problems for you. It recommends that lemon juice not be taken along with milk, yogurt, tomatoes, and cucumbers. In addition, those with kapha imbalance should avoid kapha aggravating foods – one of which is lemon juice.9

References   [ + ]

1. Zimmer, Stefan, Georg Kirchner, Mozhgan Bizhang, and Mathias Benedix. “Influence of Various Acidic Beverages on Tooth Erosion. Evaluation by a New Method.” PloS one 10, no. 6 (2015): e0129462.
2. Kaltenbach, Tonya, Seth Crockett, and Lauren B. Gerson. “Are lifestyle measures effective in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease?: an evidence-based approach.” Archives of Internal Medicine 166, no. 9 (2006): 965-971.
3. Sarfaraz, Sana, Ghulam Sarwar, Wajeeha Fatima, Saima Ramzan, Raana Amjad, Ramsha Tareen and Soofia Irfan. “Evaluation of diuretic potential of lemon juice and reconstituted lemon drink.” World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research Volume 4, Issue 7, 254-259.
4. Kulaksızoğlu, Sevsen, Mustafa Sofikerim, and Cemal Çevik. “In vitro effect of lemon and orange juices on calcium oxalate crystallization.” International urology and nephrology 40, no. 3 (2008): 589-594.
5. Jacob, Robert A., and Gity Sotoudeh. “Vitamin C function and status in chronic disease.” Nutrition in clinical care 5, no. 2 (2002): 66-74.
6. Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals, National Institutes of Health.
7. Gonçalves, N. E. L., H. L. Almeida, E. C. Hallal, and M. Amado. “Experimental phytophotodermatitis.” Photodermatology, photoimmunology & photomedicine 21, no. 6 (2005): 318-321.
8. Kung, Andrew C., Mark B. Stephens, and Thomas Darling. “Phytophotodermatitis: Bulla formation and hyperpigmentation during spring break.” Military medicine 174, no. 6 (2009): 657-661.
9. Jayasundar, Rama. “Healthcare the Ayurvedic way.” Indian journal of medical ethics 9, no. 3 (2012).
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.