6 Things That Can Cause Bright Yellow or Green Pee

Do you have bright yellow, neon yellow, or green pee? Here are a few reasons why this can happen and what it means.

Do you have neon yellow or green urine?

You turn to flush the toilet and do a double-take. Your pee is not exactly the pale-yellow shade that you’ve come to expect. What gives?

While urine is usually pale yellow, it can be other colors occasionally, including bright yellow pee or even neon green pee, explains Elizabeth Kavaler, MD, a urologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. (Here’s a urine color chart that can help shed light on what they mean.)

Urine color varies based on what you eat, how much water you drink, any medications or supplements you take, and any underlying health conditions, she says. That’s why your pee can reveal a lot about your health.

Here’s what you should know if you have bright yellow pee or green pee.

Where does urine come from, anyway?

Your urinary tract usually consists of two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra.

After the kidneys filter the blood to remove waste and excess fluid, it produces urine that goes through the ureters, into the bladder, and finally through the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body).

(Here are 12 things your bladder problems to note.)

What exactly is urine?

Urine should be pale yellow, clear, and free of clouds or particles, Dr. Kavaler says. It is mostly water, but it also contains salts such as sodium, potassium, chloride, uric acid, and urea.

Uric acid is a natural waste product from food digestion. Urea is also a waste product made of ammonia and carbon dioxide. The yellow color is due to urobilin, a waste product and yellow pigment that’s generated from the breakdown of red blood cells.

However, urine isn’t always yellow, according to Marisa Clifton, MD, assistant professor of urology and the director of women’s health at the Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

Close-up view of hand about to flush handle of tan toiletsmusselm/Getty Images

Why does my urine look neon yellow?

Vitamins and diet

If you ever popped too many gummy vitamins as a kid (no judgment, they were pretty tasty), you may have noticed that your urine was bright yellow or even neon green.

The main culprits? B vitamins such as riboflavin (B-2) and cobalamin (B-12).

Dr. Clifton says that multivitamins, even prenatal vitamins, certain meal replacement bars, and shakes may also be fortified with these B-vitamins and can also cause neon yellow or green pee.

This is generally harmless, and the excess B vitamins are mixed with urine and excreted naturally, Dr. Kavaler adds.

Other causes of bright yellow or bright green urine may include food dyes used in highly processed foods, she says.

If your pee is one of these colors, the first step is to look at your vitamin intake as well as the foods you are eating, she says.

Why is my urine dark yellow?

Dehydration

Darker shades of yellow, and those bordering on amber, may indicate that you are not drinking enough water and are at risk for dehydration, Dr. Clifton says.

The more water you drink, the clearer or lighter yellow the urine.

If there isn’t enough water in your body, minerals and chemicals in your pee become more concentrated and darker in color.

How much water do you need to stay hydrated? Women should consume about 11.5 cups per day and men should aim for about 15.5 cups, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Water can come from drinks and/or foods.

Why is my urine green?

Diet

Some foods can turn urine a greenish color, too, Dr. Kavaler adds.

Asparagus can give your urine a greenish hue. (Eating asparagus is also one of the reasons your pee smells funny.)

UTIs

Bright green pee may be related to an excess of B-vitamins, but there are times that it can suggest a urinary tract infection (UTI), Dr. Clifton says.

Green pee isn’t usually the only symptom though, she says.

“Other UTI symptoms include pain and burning when urinating along with frequency and urgency.” There may also be blood in your urine if you have a UTI.

Green urine may be due to a bacteria called Pseudomonas, she says. Urine tests can help diagnose a UTI, and a course of antibiotics usually help to clear it up, she says.

Medications

Certain medications may give urine a blue or green color. This includes the antidepressant amitriptyline, the pain reliever indomethacin, and the anesthetic Propofol.

Dyes used for some medical tests that look at kidney and bladder function can turn urine blue, Dr. Clifton says.

It’s a good idea to look at your urine intermittently, she adds.

And she says the bright yellow hue could be nothing more than overdoing it on your B vitamins, but if the color change is also traveling with symptoms, see a doctor to find out what is going on.

Sources

Denise Mann, MS
Denise Mann is a freelance health writer whose articles regularly appear in WebMD, HealthDay, and other consumer health portals. She has received numerous awards, including the Arthritis Foundation's Northeast Region Prize for Online Journalism; the Excellence in Women's Health Research Journalism Award; the Journalistic Achievement Award from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; National Newsmaker of the Year by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; the Gold Award for Best Service Journalism from the Magazine Association of the Southeast; a Bronze Award from The American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (for a cover story she wrote in Plastic Surgery Practice magazine); and an honorable mention in the International Osteoporosis Foundation Journalism Awards. She was part of the writing team awarded a 2008 Sigma Delta Chi award for her part in a WebMD series on autism. Her first foray into health reporting was with the Medical Tribune News Service, where her articles appeared regularly in such newspapers as the Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News, and Los Angeles Daily News. Mann received a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and her undergraduate degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. She lives in New York with her husband David; sons Teddy and Evan; and their miniature schnauzer, Perri Winkle Blu.