When you think of Vitamin C aka ascorbic acid, your mind jumps to lemons and oranges. But lots of other fruits and veggies have it, including strawberries, broccoli, potatoes, and even peppers. But how much Vitamin C is in the juice of one lemon? On average, it’s about 31mg.
According to the RDA, that’s slightly over half the recommended amount. The science experts suggest women should get 75mg per day while dudes require 90mg. You shouldn’t take more than 2,000mg – your body can’t handle it! But pregnant people need 120mg daily.
What Are Lemons Good For?
Our key point of interest is how much Vitamin C is in the juice of one lemon. But a bigger question is … how much juice is in a single lemon, period? Some recipes suggest using malic acid and citric acid to fluff your juice batch without losing flavor. If you use this system, you can get up to 8 times more juice, but a lot of that is water, edible acids, and lemon rind oils.
But how much juice can you reasonably get from a whole lemon? If you press it with its peels intact, you can get maybe 4 fluid ounces, which is about 113g give or take. You’ll draw out this amount if you use a commercial juice press, but you’ll get closer to 2oz if you squeeze a lemon at home. Out of that, a mere fraction of 31mg contains pure ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).
That said, while the flavor and tang of lemon juice are an appealing additive to your recipe, what health benefits will you get? You could pop a few Vitamin C pills or dissolve them in a glass of water. But organic sources are typically healthier and have no synthetic additives. So if you don’t mind the sour taste of freshly squeezed lemon juice, here are some advantages.
- High antioxidant content.
- Increased white blood cell count.
- Reduced inflammation in tissues.
- Enhanced production of antibodies.
- Prevention of scurvy and eye infections.
- Lower chances of stroke and heart disease.
- Quicker healing for wounds and minor cuts.
- Stronger bones, blood vessels, and cartilage.
- Collagen formation for smooth, supple skin.
- Collagen helps repair and improve wrinkles.
- Prevention of bleeding gums while pregnant.
- Healthier overall cells and stronger immunity.
- Better fetal health in-utero for pregnant people.
- Slower degeneration of eyesight as you get older.
- Efficient growth and development of body tissues.
- Reduction of hyperpigmentation and premature aging.
- Oil control for acne, eczema, and pimple management.
- Increased interferon hormones to kill off infected cells.
- Relief from symptoms of cold and flu. (It won’t cure you though!)
The best way to get fresh Vitamin C is to slice the lemon into wedges and suck them. But not everyone can handle the flavor. And the direct exposure to acids could weaken your enamel (the topmost coating of your teeth). So mix it up. Have a glass of lemonade made from fresh lemons, or slip some citrus into your system through desserts like lemon pie or lemon curd.
Which Parts of a Lemon are the Most Beneficial?
Interestingly, the other parts of a lemon can be good for your health as well. The fiber in lemon pulp and lemon pits can lower your blood cholesterol, and the salicylic acid in lemon seeds is great for your skin. Lemon essential oil has a calming effect, which is why lemon tea is such a good de-stressor. Also, lots of people praise lemon juice for its weight loss abilities.
The slimming factor mostly comes from the pectins in lemon peels and pits though, so lemon juice won’t do it unless you grind the entire lemon, seeds and rinds inclusive. The citric acid in lemons can lessen the occurrence of gout and kidney stones, while both citric and ascorbic acid help you absorb iron from other foods. That’s why lemons are effective against anemia.
Finally, if you’re eating the entire lemon, including its pulp and its pith (the white, stringy part), you’ll ingest the natural fiber, and that’s great for your digestion. You can still get this fiber if you juice the whole fruit because lemon fiber comes in the form of pectin, and pectin can dissolve in water. So even if you sip your juice with peels included, you get a full fiber fix.
Tips to Maximise Your Lemon Juice
Lemons come in different sizes, obviously, so you’ll get more juice from some than others. The level of ripeness matters too. But is there anything you can do to squeeze the most out of your citrus fruits? Here are some techniques you can experiment with, and they all work too! The goal is to tweak pre-cut lemon segments (carpels) so they’ll release more of their fluid.
- Opt for softer lemons – they produce more juice.
- Roll the lemon on the countertop to loosen the carpels.
- Put the uncut lemon in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds.
- Let the whole (uncut) lemon sit in warm water for half an hour.
- Alternatively, freeze your lemon then thaw it to loosen the juice.
- For hand squeezing, twirl a fork in the segments as you squeeze.
- When you do cut the lemon, slice from top to bottom for best results.
- Try cutting it into slices instead of halves, then you can twist the ‘core’.
- If you don’t have a lemon squeezer, you can use tongs for extra traction.
As you practice these methods, be careful not to mash the lemon before you cut it open, as this could damage the fruit and contaminate it. For the heating methods, don’t let the lemon get hot. It only needs to be warm and the uncut fruit should feel softer when you touch it. After squeezing, keep the lemon shell. You can use it as a scouring pad to clean your ovens.
Everybody Gets a Lemon Shot!
You may have heard about the lemon shot challenge. You take two shots of fresh lemon juice, a splash of mild chili – ideally Tajín Clásico – and salt. Some use it to stop periods (it doesn’t work!) but most people just like that taste. But whether it’s lemonade or daiquiri, how much Vitamin C is in the juice of one lemon? 31mg. Two lemons and your immunity set for the day.