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What Is Beeturia?

By Britt Archer
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Beeturia is a condition that is named for the vegetable that causes it, beets. Some people who eat beets will develop beeturia, which means they pass red urine or pink urine. Sometimes beets also turn feces red. In some people, the body needs to excrete much of the vegetable’s bright pigment because it cannot absorb it all. It is believed that less than 15 percent of people experience this condition, and it can be related to a lack of iron, or iron deficiency anemia. The presence of oxalic acid also can contribute to the discoloration of urine.

In most cases, beeturia is not harmful. Red urine, however, can be a sign of other problems. To be on the safe side, a person who experiences beeturia should see a doctor and have a urinalysis performed to rule out the presence of blood if the condition does not clear up within a few days or cannot be attributed to the ingestion of beets. Other foods besides beets, especially those containing food dyes, can also change the color of urine.

If a person develops red urine, it can be a sign of several other conditions, not all of them as benign as beeturia. The red urine can be an indication of laxative use, or an indication of a condition called porphyria, a metabolic genetic condition. Pink or red urine can occur with certain kidney problems and urinary tract disorders. Other medical conditions, chemical compounds and foods can cause discoloration of the urine, sometimes turning it black, orange, blue-green, or brown. Blackberries, for instance, have been known to discolor the urine.

The pigment that gives the beet its bright coloring is betalain, and this pigment also is found in flowers like the red amaranth and bougainvillea. The red beet root that causes beeturia has been used since the 1500s to make dyes and to color hair. Ancient Romans drank red beet juice to stimulate sexual desire, and Charlemagne ordered that beets be grown on royal land.

A number of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications are known to change the color of urine. A drug called pyridium, for example, which is often prescribed to ease the symptoms of bladder infections, turns the urine orange. Iron supplements can turn urine brown. The antibiotic nitrofurantoin, whose brand names include Macrobid and Macrodantin, can turn urine a light or dark brown. Methylene blue, used as a cyanide antidote or as a treatment for methemoglobinemia, causes green or blue urine.

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Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Apr 03, 2012

@simrin-- As far as I know, having beeturia doesn't mean that you have a health condition. If you are worried about iron levels or possible vitamin deficiencies, you should have those tested.

I think people who have beeturia experience the symptoms after having quite a bit of beets. So it may just be that you are consuming a lot of beets at one time.

I have a friend who only eats raw foods and he experiences change in urine color from raw foods all the time. So it doesn't mean that there is something wrong, it's not a bad thing.

By SteamLouis — On Apr 02, 2012

I get this too! I completely avoid beets now because it's just too weird to experience red urine. Is there a way to avoid this altogether? Do I need iron supplements, probiotics or enzymes added to my diet? Has anyone with beeturia seen a doctor for this?

I feel like beeturia wouldn't happen unless there is something wrong because most people don't get it. As far as I know, I'm okay, but it still doesn't make sense to me why this happens.

By discographer — On Apr 01, 2012

My mom had this once and she was so scared! She actually didn't eat any beets but she ate some all-natural potato chips that used beets for the coloring. I guess there was quite a lot of beets in it because both her urine and stool came out red for two days.

First she thought it was blood and was almost having a panic attack. But then we looked it up on the net and realized that it's probably from the chips. She stopped eating them and everything went back to normal the next day.

I had never heard of beeturia before this. And only my mom in our family has it. My brother and I were kind of silly the next day. We ate beets to see if we would get it too, we didn't.

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