We’ve written before about how that large dookie you left in the toilet is a window into your overall health, and as it turns out, your pee is very much the same. The color of your urine — which can range from completely clear to a shockingly peachy pink to a frightening algae green — can indicate everything from hydration status to the presence of kidney stones. Below, you’ll find every possible urine hue and what it says about your body, according to nutritionist Carolyn Dean and urologist James Borin.
Clear: “Clear urine may mean you’re drinking too much water [which, yeah, is a real thing], and therefore, losing essential minerals like magnesium,” Dean explains, adding that a magnesium deficiency can cause everything from irritability and anxiety to seizures and coronary spasms.
In more severe and rare cases, overhydration can also result in hyponatremia, a condition that occurs when the sodium levels in our body fluids drop due to excess water consumption. This causes our cells to swell (particularly those in the brain), which in extremely serious cases, can result in seizures, brain damage, coma and even death.
Light Yellow: This means you’re properly hydrated, in which case, nice job!
Dark Yellow to Amber: “Dark yellow urine is normal, but may suggest you’re mildly dehydrated,” Borin explains, adding that you’ll likely experience dark yellow urine after a sweaty workout. If your pee is dark yellow, it’s probably time to drink some water soon.
Orange: Pumpkin-colored urine is most likely a sign that you’re severely dehydrated, so get to the water fountain, stat. It can also mean something’s blocking your bile duct, which if left untreated, can result in life-threatening liver disease.
Brown: Brown urine is generally suggestive of liver disease. See a doctor immediately. Seriously, dude.
Pink or Red: “This is usually an indicator of blood in the urine, which we call hematuria,” Borin explains. “While certain foods [like beets, blueberries and rhubarb] and medications can mimic the look of hematuria, pink or red urine often indicate the presence of urinary tract infections, kidney stones, kidney disease, bladder tumors or an enlarged prostate.” All of which are — if you’re not taking urinary tract infection medication or haven’t consumed the foods listed above in the past day or so — cause to pay your doctor a visit.
Green: While rare, Borin explains that urine resembling our boy Flubber can be a side effect of urinary tract infection medications. It’s more likely, however, the result of eating or drinking something laden with food dye.
To paraphrase the old hippie adage, if your pee is yellow, remain mellow. But if it’s pink, red or green — and you haven’t recently stuffed your face with rainbow-colored carnival foods — you’d best get that checked out ASAP.