What's in your pee?

Urine mostly consists of water, along with electrolytes and substances like urea. The color of your urine may indicate hydration status or may change based on medications you are taking or the presence of a medical condition.
Urine mostly consists of water, along with electrolytes and substances like urea. The color of your urine may indicate hydration status or may change based on medications you are taking or the presence of a medical condition.

The liquid waste that comes from your body is called pee or urine. It's mostly made of water and other substances like electrolytes and chemicals. Your pee color can help you determine whether you're hydrated or not. Many other things can affect your pee color, smell, and thickness, including certain medications and foods.

Pee mostly consists of water, along with electrolytes and substances like urea. When waste products are filtered by your kidneys, pee is formed. It first collects in your bladder and is then eliminated from your body through the urethra. 

Pee is the liquid result of human metabolism. The color comes from urobilin, a chemical waste product made when inactive red blood cells are broken down by the body.

When should I check my pee color?

It's best to check your pee color twice a day — first thing when you wake up, then before you go to bed.

Your urine will be the most concentrated when you wake up. Before you go to bed, it should be at its clearest or palest color. If your morning and bedtime pee are lighter in color, you're likely healthy and hydrated. If it's darker in color, you may need to drink more water throughout the day.

What are the characteristics of healthy pee?

The yellow color of pee comes from the chemical known as urochrome. Your pee color will typically range between a pale to dark yellow. 

When you're in good health and drinking enough water to stay hydrated, your urine should be colorless to honey-colored. When you're not drinking enough, the yellow color will be darker.

Colorless to pale yellow

This is a healthy color. Your body is properly hydrated and functioning normally. To stay hydrated, some urologists suggest drinking up to 3 quarts (or 12 cups) of water a day, but this will vary from person to person.

Keep in mind that if your urine is too clear, you may be overhydrated. This means you have too much water but not enough electrolytes in your system. 

Dark yellow 

This color can still be considered normal, but you may not be getting enough water and you're likely close to being dehydrated. Pee is darker when it contains less water and more waste. 

Bright yellow

A bright shade of yellow can be considered normal for those that take vitamins.

What pee colors should I be concerned about?

If your urine color starts to darken unexpectedly, first note if there have been any recent changes in your diet or lifestyle. Medications, foods, and drinks with certain coloring products can temporarily change your pee color, sometimes to red, blue, or green. Examples include beets, fava beans, some laxatives and anti-inflammatories, and drinks with blue dye. 

Look out for the following pee colors or textures, as they could be a sign of a more serious issue:

Cloudy pee

Kidney stones or a urinary tract infection can cause cloudy pee, but you'll likely experience other symptoms like pain or blood. 

White or milky pee

If you notice white or milky pee on a regular basis, it could be a sign that you have a kidney issue or protein in your urine. 

Amber or very dark yellow pee  

This color is a classic sign of dehydration. Simply increasing your water intake should lighten your pee color.

Light orange pee

Orange pee can be another sign of dehydration. It also can mean you have issues with your liver or bile duct (which carries digestive fluids into your small intestine). If your urine is often this color, you should contact a medical professional.

Red or pink pee

When your pee is red or pink, think about any changes you've recently made to your diet. Foods like blueberries, beets, or rhubarb can change your pee to this color.

If you haven’t eaten any of these foods or had similar diet changes, reddish urine may be a sign of:

Brown pee

Brown pee can mean either severe dehydration or liver problems. If drinking enough water doesn't get rid of this color, you should see a medical professional.

Blue or Green pee

Blue or green pee can be caused by food dye or certain medications. This color may also be a sign that bacteria is in your urine. Though not a medical emergency, you should see your doctor if this color doesn't quickly go away. 

When to see a doctor

The color of your urine will often tell you if you're drinking enough water. If you consistently notice a darker yellow color, you should increase your daily intake of water. If you're hydrated and still notice a color other than yellow on a regular basis, you should see your doctor. 

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Medically Reviewed on 12/14/2021
References
SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: "What The Color of Your Pee Says About You."

Harvard Health Publishing: "Urine color and odor changes."

National Cancer Institute: "common bile duct."

UC San Diego Health: "10 Colors That Suggest Urine Trouble."

UCI Health: "What color is your urine?"

Urology Care Foundation: "The Meaning Behind the Color of Urine."