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What Makes Urine Golden?

September 14, 2010

My website has a page where you can submit questions. Yesterday I received one: why is urine yellow?

Same color, but different pigments

Two major components of urine determine its color. These include waste products and the amount of water in the void. The major waste product coloring normal urine, urobilins, result from the breakdown of the red blood cells in the body. Most of the hemoglobin eventually forms bilirubin which gets pooped out of the body (making feces brown), but a small amount colors the urine golden. With liver disease or disorders causing excessive breakdown of red blood cells, the urine may become orange or brown in color from the increase in these pigments.

Having lots of water in the urine dilutes its pigments; it can even look virtually clear when diluted enough.

Some drugs can give urine an exaggerated yellow-orange color. Pyridium, a urinary tract analgesic (pain reliever), and rifampin, an antibiotic, are most famous for this action. Other drugs and metabolic conditions can color the urine a rainbow of shades.

Do you have a question? Submit it here!

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