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Why Is Urine Yellow?

Urine sample.
Lab technician holding a urine sample.
Asparagus can make urine brighter.
The color of a person's urine can show how hydrated they are.
Carrot juice can make urine a darker yellow or orange.
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  • Written By: Margo Upson
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2014
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Normal and healthy urine is pale yellow in color. The human body produces urine as a way to rid itself of harmful toxins, which are broken down by the kidneys, getting them ready for disposal. It also contains sugars, water, and urobilins.

Urobilins are the broken-down products of bilirubin, which is itself the broken-down product of old blood cells. Bilirubin is what gives color to bile, bruises, and feces, and most bilirubin is gathered from the blood stream by the liver. From there, it is broken down by the gall bladder and intestines, and then excreted by the bowel. Some bilirubin, however, stays in the blood until it is picked up by the kidneys, where it is then broken down into urobilins and removed from the body in urine. Also known as urochrome, urobilins are the pigment that gives urine its yellow color.

Urine is usually pale yellow, but it can range from clear to a deep amber color in a healthy person. The level of yellow is determined by how hydrated a person is. A person who is very hydrated has more water to release through urinating, and thus has a lesser concentration of urobilin in their urine. A person who is very dehydrated will have a much higher concentration, and thus much darker urine.

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Some foods, such as beets, may temporarily change the color of urine. Eating a lot of carrots, or drinking a lot of carrot juice, can turn it orange. Asparagus can make urine much brighter in color, as can some vitamins — usually vitamins C and B. Certain medications can also affect the color, as can food dyes. An unusual urine color may also indicate a health problem. Brown or red could indicate a severe problem in the kidneys, for example.

The best way to bring dark urine back to a healthier pale yellow is to drink several glasses of water or other clear fluids each day. Most health care professionals recommend eight glasses of water, although some people may need a little more or less. After a few glasses of water, the body should start to rehydrate and urine will return to a normal color. If it remains dark after a day of increased water intake, it may be necessary to be checked out by a doctor to make sure there is no underlying medical cause for the color.

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Discuss this Article

anon334716
Post 19

My urine colour has been dark yellow for the last three months. I am really scared. What is wrong with my body?

I have had certain medical tests the and doctors are saying there is nothing wrong but a minor urine infection. Please tell me what steps I should follow to get my normal urine colour back. I am really upset.

wavy58
Post 17

My pee is almost colorless. I do drink a lot of water throughout the day, and since I switched to water from soda and tea, my urine has stopped being yellow. I guess this means my body isn't full of toxins, so I'm happy about that.

My husband drinks mostly soda. His urine is dark yellow. It is so dark when he urinates in the morning after sleeping through the night that it almost worries me.

StarJo
Post 16

@shell4life – You probably have a urine infection. This means that there are bacteria living in your urinary tract, and you need to get antibiotics to get rid of them.

I've had this type of infection before, and it does come with cramps. You also have to pee a lot more frequently, even though you may not pee much each time.

Drinking cranberry juice every day can prevent a urinary tract infection in the future. Just one glass is enough to flush the bacteria out.

shell4life
Post 15

What does cloudy urine indicate? My urine is normally light yellow, but lately, it has been looking cloudy and a bit darker. I've also been having cramps in my lower abdomen.

healthy4life
Post 14

Asparagus really does make your urine bright yellow. I didn't know this the first time I ate it, and I was alarmed by both the color and the smell.

Asparagus can also cause your urine to smell like cabbage. Only certain people can even pick up on this odor, but I am one of them. I thought something was really wrong with me!

anon258219
Post 13

Ammonia is broken down into urea by the kidneys? I don't want to read the rest.

anon155757
Post 12

thanks. every time i go to the toilet, i am always scared that i was sick until today. Then i found out that i was a normal person. thanks for this information.

anon154646
Post 11

someone made a contradictory statement stating that the amount of toxic expelled from the body lowers when we drink lots of water. what the article meant is that the amount of toxic becomes less concentrated. therefore instead of 3 parts toxic to 4 parts water we have 3 parts toxic to 6 parts water, which occurs during large consumption of water. we say that the urine is more dilute and this is what leads to a much clearer urine.

anon146270
Post 10

The info is really helpful and clear.

@anon139145: When we drink heavy amounts of water our urine is clearer because the amount of toxic is "watered-down" therefore the concentration of our urine lowers. This also leads to the increase in the number of time we go for pee-pee. Theoretically, if our body is "clean" we only urinate pure water.

Hope this clears it up.

anon139145
Post 9

What I don't understand is (read all before passing judgement): Urine is getting rid of all the impurities we intake through liquids and food, right? To me that would mean our urine would be a darker color most of the time, now why is it that when we drink heavy amounts of water our urine is clear. Does that mean we are not urinating out the bad stuff and just the water?

anon120848
Post 8

Thank you so much for the information. I guess I need to drink more water.

anon110192
Post 7

Actually your pee is supposed to be clear. Drink water.

anon102124
Post 6

Well my urine is usually dark yellow so I guess I'm always dehydrated.

anon94442
Post 5

this really put my mind at rest. thanks.

anon76820
Post 3

very clear and informative. thank you.

anon39152
Post 1

thank you for that piece of information. i was really wondering why my urine is yellow. well now i know! thanks again, jillian

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