What colour should your urine be?

What colour should your urine be?

Your urine can be a good indicator of health. Not only visually, but when sent to a lab it will tell you more about your hormone levels, nutrient metabolites, heavy metals, glucose metabolism and much more.

There are several visual checks you can do yourself and it is a good idea to get into the habit of checking your urine, either as you pee for men, or for women after you pee, and keep a check on obvious signs to look out for.

How to check your urine

Just like your poo, your urine can come out in different colours and they can be simplified into eight different broad colours and types. 

Learn more about what your poo says about your health and what the perfect poo looks like, and here are the different colours of urine to look out for.

1. Clear or very pale yellow

This is the ideal colour and means that you are drinking enough hydrating fluids. This generally means you are doing well on the hydration front.

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If you are exercising, consider adding in an additional electrolyte into you drink to make sure you stay properly hydrated.  

2. Dark Yellow

Just like cracks in your poo are a sign of dehydration, dark yellow urine is a warning sign of dehydration, especially if it is also strong smelling. You can be dehydrated for a number of reasons including not drinking enough water, excessive exercise, excessive sweating and being in a hot climate.

Aim to consume a minimum of one and a half to two litres of purified water per day, and even more if you are exercising or are in a hot climate.

You may enjoy our nutritionists article 'Nutrition for working out'. 

3. Pink

If you have eaten beetroot recently and your urine is pink, then this is likely to be something called beeturia. Beeturia is a harmless condition in which your urine turns red after consuming beet foods.  It affects up to 2 in 10 people and those who are unable to break down the colouring in beetroot, so it is just excreted in their urine. 

You may be interested in 'How to look after your gut through your diet'.

4. Bright red

This is an indication of fresh blood and a urinary tract infection, either in your bladder, kidneys or tubes.

You will probably have other symptoms along with it such as pain and burning on urination and foul-smelling urine. If you have an infection, your doctor will need to know so you can get prompt treatment.

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5. Green

Green urine may alarm you a little, and rightly so. It is usually due to an excess of bile (containing broken down red blood cells) in the stool. Some of this may become reabsorbed and is excreted in urine giving a green appearance. Bile plays a key role in separating nutrients from toxins and waste, as well as digesting fat in the small intestine. 

Green urine may also occur after the consumption of asparagus in some people who are unable to breakdown their natural colour.

If you experience pain or burning while urinating green urine, it is usually an infection and needs to be treated by a doctor promptly. Some medications may also trigger green urine, so it is worth discussing with your doctor.

6. Neon Yellow

This is usually due to the metabolism of riboflavin (Vitamin B2) and nothing to worry about. This generally occurs only after taking Vitamin B2 or a B Vitamin complex as a food supplement. Vitamin B2 is naturally bright in colour and is sometimes used in food as a natural colour.

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7. Dark Brown

Some conditions or medications may trigger the rapid breakdown of red blood cells. These blood cells contain haemoglobin which can colour the urine a dark brown.

Dark brown urine can also be the result of excessive exercise. The rapid breakdown of muscle and its toxins are filtered out into the urine causing it to become discoloured. If this is the case, you will want to see your GP asap as the kidneys can become distressed or damaged in this situation.

8. Foamy

If your urine is foamy on occasion, it is probably nothing to worry too much about. It can occur when you urinate with force, triggering bubbles to rise from the water in the cistern. If it is a regular occurrence however it needs investigating by a doctor.

Proteinuria (protein in your urine) can cause foamy urine and may indicate an issue with your kidneys.

Foamy urine can also be caused by retrograde ejaculation in men which is when semen enters the bladder rather than being released out of the body and if it persists, needs a doctor to investigate.

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In summary

Your urine can tell you a lot about your health, but if you are in anyway concerned by your urine, a quick trip to the GP for a urine test can either provide peace of mind, or a quick diagnosis and treatment.

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