Bright yellow pee is one of those curious things we tend to ask Google about rather than bother a medical professional with. But we like to do things properly on Get The Gloss, so we quizzed three doctors about it – and whether we should be worried
Having bright yellow urine and what it might signify is something we’ve probably all pondered. And soon we’ll have toilet seat trackers (yes, really) to give us the answers as showcased at last month’s influential tech conference Consumer Electronics Show. As the wellbeing gadget market grows ever bigger, someday soon a device attached to your toilet will be able to test your urine for a range of health markers.
But until toilet tech arrives (and, frankly, it can take its time), we can continue to do things the old-school way – glancing into the bowl to see what our pee looks like and wondering what its shade might tell us about the state of our body. Let’s be honest, we all do it and it's no bad idea. One concern that crops up a lot is bright yellow urine. What causes yellow pee? And should we be worried? It turns out it’s not always a case of just needing to drink a glass of water. We ask three doctors all about bright yellow urine; here’s what they said.
What colour should urine be?
“Your urine should be a pale yellow to amber colour - it varies from person to person,” says Dr Aishah Iqbal, medical doctor, personal trainer and weight loss coach. “The colour is a result of the pigment urobilin found in the urine. How concentrated the colour of the urine is depends on the colour of this pigment. The more hydrated you are the lighter the colour will appear.”
Harley Street nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr described the ideal wee as "lemonade colour with a light yellow hue," when we asked her what the best drink was to avoid dehydration in hot weather (fyi she suggests tea). She warns not to fixate on completely clear pee. "It could mean you’re over-drinking water - and too quickly.”
Why is my urine bright yellow?
- You’ve taken a multivitamin
“If your urine turns bright yellow a few hours after taking your multivitamin you can relax because it’s totally normal,” says Dr Johanna Ward, GP, nutritional expert and aesthetic doctor. “People often panic when they see bright yellow urine after taking a supplement but it’s just the excess B vitamins being excreted and is nothing to worry about. Some vitamins - A, D, E and K - are fat-soluble and some are water-soluble - all eight B vitamins and vitamin C. The fat-soluble ones can be stored in your body for future use but the water-soluble ones can’t, so any excess that you don’t need will be excreted in your wee. The water-soluble vitamins need to be replenished every day so ensure your diet is full of colourful fruit and vegetables.”
The fact that your urine is bright yellow doesn’t mean you have peed out all the vitamins’ goodness without absorbing it, says Dr Johanna. “It’s just the body’s very clever way of maintaining itself – everything is carefully orchestrated and planned to perfection.”
- You’re dehydrated
“When you are dehydrated, your body will not excrete as much water via the kidneys as it wants to hang onto it, therefore any of the waste products contained within the urine will be more concentrated, including urobilin,” says Dr Zoe Watson, GP and founder of Wellgood Wellbeing. “So a higher concentration of urobilin means the urine will appear a darker yellow colour.”
This is easily fixed. “It’s not something I’d get overly panicked about - I’d simply advise consciously trying to drink a bit more water through the day, which should sort it out.”
- You’re taking certain medication
“Over-the-counter medications and some prescription medications can cause bright yellow urine. Some chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics such as Rifampin used for TB, anti-inflammatory drugs such as sulfasalazine, and laxatives such as senna are known to do this,” says Dr Aishah. Again, it’s nothing to worry about.
Can pregnancy cause bright yellow urine?
It’s a myth that being pregnant can cause neon yellow wee, says Dr Zoe. “The only reason a pregnant person might experience bright yellow urine would be because of the B vitamins contained within their prenatal vitamins. Many of the common prenatal vitamin brands such as Pregnacare contain B vitamins." Folic acid (vitamin B9) is the most important prenatal vitamin. "So if bright yellow urine is noticed in pregnancy, it would be down to that.”
Should I be worried about changes in urine colour?
Pink urine? All three doctors point out that eating beetroot can change your urine to pink or red in the short term, so don’t be alarmed in that instance. (It’s not surprising really, when you see how beetroot stains your hands and chopping board when you’re prepping it.)
But if you haven’t been scoffing beets, you’ve ruled out the above factors that might turn your pee bright yellow, or if it’s changed to a different colour entirely, then you should probably seek medical advice.
“Bladder or kidney problems and liver disease can all cause urine discolouration so it's always worth getting it checked out,” says Dr Johanna. “I’d be worried about the colour of someone’s urine if it was orange or red,” add Dr Zoe. “Both of these situations could indicate blood in the urine. Blood can appear in the urine for a variety of reasons - from a urine infection to cancer - so it’s always something that should be checked out by a medical professional.”