Health Benefits of Lemon for Babies
Health benefits of lemon include cure for scurvy, remedy for digestive issues, cure for diarrhea, is a remedy for oral diseases, strengthens the immune system, fights against cold and cures and prevents cholera.
Lemon is one of the important fruits in the citrus group. Lemon offers various health benefits for both children as well as adults. Lemon is considerably a large fruit which grows to the size of an apple or more. When lemon is ripe, the outer layer would turn yellow in color and it offers good amount of juice with little seeds.
Lemon is thought to have originated in India in and around the north western region. It is cultivated here at an altitude of about 4000 ft above sea level. It is believed to have been introduced to the Mediterranean region and Europe between 11th and 12th centuries. Lemons are very popular in the Mediterranean cuisine as a beautiful addition to their salads. Lemons are also popular in Europe and also in the Americas, after introducing them during 18th and 19th centuries. Lemonade, squashes, jams, jellies and marmalades prepared in the US, UK and other European countries is an example of the popularity.
Lemons are one of the best fruits to be taken during summers. The juice of lemon or even lime is ideal in helping recover from the hot sun and hydrates us well. The juice not only re-hydrates our body, but also supplies essential vitamins and minerals that are easily lost when exposed to heat wave.
Nutrition found in lemon
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, the nutrition found in lemon include
|Nutritional Component||Value per 100 g||Nutritional Component||Value per 100 g|
|Water||88.98 g||Energy||29 kcal|
|Protein||1.10 g||Total Lipid||0.30 g|
|Carbohydrate||9.32 g||Fiber||2.8 g|
|Sugar||2.50 g||Calcium||26 mg|
|Iron||0.60 mg||Magnesium||8 mg|
|Phosphorous||16 mg||Potassium||138 mg|
|Sodium||2 mg||Zinc||0.06 mg|
|Vitamin C||53 mg||Thiamin||0.040 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.020 mg||Niacin||0.100 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.080 mg||Folate||11 ug|
|Vitamin A||22 IU||Vitamin E||0.15 mg|
Can lemon be given to babies?
This question appears in the minds of most parents due to the fact that babies cannot take the sour flavor of lemon and concern about the acidity contained in lemon. There is also concern about allergies for citrus fruits.
Yes, due to the above mentioned reasons, until the baby is about 10-12 months old, avoid giving lemon slices directly to the baby. Instead you can give diluted lemon juice after six months of age. Another reason for avoiding lemon is allergy to citrus fruits. Only juice can be given but that too in small quantities and in diluted form.
Health benefits of lemon
Leaving the disadvantages behind, let’s talk about the advantages of giving lemon to your child. Some of the health benefits of lemon include
Ideal juice during summers: Lemons are an ideal choice during summers. Lemon juice is known to restore water levels in the body and supplies the body with required vitamins and minerals.
Scurvy: Scurvy is a form of skin and oral disease which is caused due to lack of ascorbic acid and vitamin C in the diet. In the 18th century, scurvy was seen mostly among sailors and by carrying citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges on their voyages, scurvy was reduced. In early 20th century scurvy resurfaced in the United States among children and again citrus fruits were suggested. Though, there is no more scurvy now, there can be few exceptions. By taking two tablespoons of lemon juice in a glass of water with sugar, two or three times a day, reduces scurvy completely. (HK Bakhru, Foods That Heal).
Cure for digestive problems: Many issues related to the digestive system can be reduced by taking lemon juice. The acidity of lemon juice has anthelmintic properties, i.e., it kills intestinal worms. The juice also has digestive properties, so it can be given when your child is suffering from dyspepsia, constipation, and biliousness.
Helpful in controlling vomiting: Vomiting generally occurs in case of chronic indigestion, gastric reflux and in some cases nervous disorders. Vomiting can be reduced significantly with half a teaspoonful of lime or lemon juice given along with spoonful of honey. Note: Honey should be given only for toddlers who are at least 1 year of age. (Bakhru, Nature Cure for Children).
Helps in treating tonsillitis: A citrus fruit like lemon is one of the best medicines for reducing tonsillitis. 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice diluted in a glass of warm water and tablespoon of honey should be given to the child. This should be the diet for the child along with fresh fruits after cleansing his/her bowels. (Bakhru, Nature Cure for Children).
Diarrhea: Diarrhea in infants is common. When your baby has diarrhea, high concern should be on restoring the water levels in the body. Apart from the oral rehydration methods, you could also use lemon juice diluted in water. Take a tablespoon of lemon juice and mix it with about a glass of water with a pinch of salt and sugar and feed it to the baby slowly. (McIntyre, Herbal Treatment of Children: Western And Ayurvedic Perspectives).
Remedy for oral diseases: Oral diseases can be quite common in children. Vitamin C acts as a good remedy for mouth ulcers. Pieces of ripe lemon can be taken directly. But do not give more than 1-2 pieces because the acidity in lemon can damage the soft enamel on your child’s teeth.
Boosts immune system: The vitamin C found in lemon is ideal for maintaining a strong immune system. As we all know, immune system is very important for protecting us against diseases causing microbes. Children are at particular risk due to their under developed immune system. Giving them diluted lemon juice regularly strengthens their immune system and protects them against disease causing bacteria and viruses.
Fights cold: One of the most frequent diseases that children get is cold. By giving lemon juice regularly, you can easily cure your child’s cold. Lemon not only cures cold but also influenza. In fact, first influenza epidemic in London in 1931 was cured more by lemons than by doctors.
Cure for and prevention of cholera: Lemon is also very effective against cholera. The acid from lemon kills the cholera bacteria within a short period of time. Lemon juice can also be taken during cholera epidemic to be immune against it. Regular intake of lemon juice prevents spreading of cholera, especially in children.
Measures to be taken before giving lemon to your child
Some measures have to be taken before giving lemon to your child, since, it is sour in taste and can be allergic to your child. With these measures, you can make sure that your child is safe and at the same time gets all the health benefits.
- At what age can lemon be given to my baby? You can start giving diluted lemon juice to your baby at about 6 months of age. In the beginning, add a teaspoon of sugar to cover up the sour taste of lemon. But, do not give lemon slices directly to your child, even if he or she is 1, 2 or even older. One of the reasons being, the ascorbic acid in lemon can damage the enamel on the teeth and increases tooth sensitivity.
- What about citrus allergies? Citrus allergies are a concern among many parents. If you have a history of citrus allergies in your families, avoid giving lemon juice to your baby until he or she is at least 1 year old. If you find diaper rash or rashes around lips and mouth, take the baby to pediatrician and according to the doctor’s advice avoid the fruit from the diet. This can include commercial baby food preparations. Read the labels for citrus ingredients. In the long run, there are great chances that your baby can develop tolerance for citrus fruits, but until then, keep your baby away from citrus fruits such as lemon.
- Lemonade Recipe: Lemonade is one of the most popular lemon drinks in the world. It is spread across the world so much so that every region has its own way of preparing one with its own flavor. A lemon the size of an orange or an apple would yield about 40-50 ml of juice and with 40-50 g sugar it can be mixed in about 2 glasses of water. Mix all the ingredients well in a jug until the sugar is completely dissolved. Serve chilled.