Lemons during pregnancy: are there benefits?

Does using lemons during pregnancy have benefits? Whether it be to add some flavor to your water, zest up a salad, or help with nausea, we have your lemons questions answered. 

Is lemon safe during pregnancy?

Lemons as with the majority of fruits are safe to consume during pregnancy and can provide nutritional value. 

They can be added to water, top salads, or to flavor baked goods.

Eating lemon during pregnancy is safe, but just like anything else, moderation is key and if you happen to be overindulging in one particular food, be sure to run it by your OBGYN, midwife, or dietitian.

Nutrient breakdown

Because it is a citrus fruit, lemons contain a good amount of vitamin C and a number of vitamins and minerals including B-vitamins, niacin, and folate (1)

One small lemon contains: 

  • Calories: 25 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g 
  • Fat: 0.3 g
  • Protein: 0.9 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Vitamin C: 45 mg
  • Calcium: 22 mg

Vitamin C, immunity, and fetal development

Vitamin C is an important antioxidant and helps build immunity in the body. During pregnancy, women are at higher risk of developing illnesses because your body is protecting both you and baby. Keeping your immunity up during this time is critical.

Not only is vitamin C important for mom’s immunity, but it has also been linked to birth weight and length (2). Especially when both vitamin C and E were high in the second trimester of pregnancy, according to this study. 

Another study also found that an increased intake of vitamin C in mid-pregnancy resulted in increased fetal growth and infant growth for up to 6 months of age (3).

Lastly, vitamin C increases the absorption of iron, another crucial nutrient for a healthy pregnancy. Squeezing lemon on high iron foods will increase the absorption, ideal for those who struggle with anemia or are only getting their iron from plant foods (4).

Does lemon help with nausea? 

“Morning sickness” or nausea can be tough especially in the first trimester.

Some research suggests that diffusing lemon essential oil may be a great homeopathic remedy to help settle your stomach. 

In 2015, 100 women were studied who complained of mild to moderate nausea with or without vomiting (5)

In this double-blinded study, half were given lemon oil to inhale when they felt nauseous and the other half were given a placebo. At least 25% of women who used the lemon essential oil found it to be effective in preventing nausea and vomiting (5).  

A few drops in your diffuser may be a great homeopathic remedy to try. 

Keep in mind, ingesting essential oil of any kind is not recommended as they are not regulated by the FDA. 

Lastly, be careful when using lemon drops for nausea as these usually contain a lot of sugar.

Lemon juice in pregnancy, is this safe?

If you’re craving a tall glass of lemon juice, there may be a few reasons to put on the brakes.

Sugar

The concern with many fruit juices is the sugar content and lack of fiber. 

Although the sugar is more natural, coming from a fruit, it is likely you are getting much more by drinking the juice compared to eating the actual fruit. You are also missing out on important fiber when you juice fruits as opposed to eating them.

Heartburn

Lemon juice is acidic in nature and can be a bad recipe for heartburn. Even drinking beverages like lemonade can contribute to heartburn which is already a common annoyance during pregnancy. 

Tooth erosion

Tooth erosion means losing the enamel coating that covers your teeth and is not a good thing. 

Pregnant women are already more susceptible to inflammation in the mouth and potentially other tooth issues. A 2015 study showed lemon juice to be one of the top beverages contributing to tooth erosion, even higher than the soda Coca-Cola (6)

Is lemon water good for pregnancy?

Hydration during every stage of life is important, and pregnancy is no exception. 

Water helps carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells, regulates body temperature, and helps the kidneys to excrete toxins (7)

Women who are pregnant should increase their water intake as their body weight and blood volume is constantly changing.

More fluid sounds like a nightmare to most pregnant women but can also aid in relieving constipation and help to prevent urinary tract infections (8).

Adding lemon to your water is more than safe in pregnancy and can help add some zest and flavor to increase your intake when plain water sounds unappealing. 

How else can I use lemon in pregnancy?

  • In salad dressing
  • Wedges in water
  • Lemon juice in meat marinades
  • Lemon oil in a diffuser 
  • Baked goods
  • Garnish with the rind zest

Bottom line

All in all, lemons during pregnancy are perfectly safe for you and your baby. 

The vitamin C in lemons contributes to increased immunity, adequate fetal growth, and enhanced iron absorption.

They may also be the holistic remedy you are looking for to relieve that dreaded nausea or the perfect way to zest up your water. 

Are you confused about what to eat and what not to eat in order to have a healthy pregnancy and help baby thrive? The P+ Method helps you transform your typical nutrition routine into a nutrient-dense diet for two. Join today!

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By Lauren Gannon, Dietetic Intern and Ryann Kipping, RDN, CLEC | Owner & Founder

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