People typically pee many times throughout the day. And maybe you’ve noticed that at different times, your urine is different colors – due largely to what you’re drinking – and how much. Maybe at some point you’ve noticed shockingly bright yellow urine, and walked away from the toilet wondering to yourself, Why is my pee bright yellow?!
So, what does it mean when your pee is neon yellow? There are many factors that affect the color of your urine.
The variation in the color of your pee is caused primarily by a pigment called urochrome.1
The pigment is the product of protein metabolism. Your pee will always have the same amount of the pigment, but the color changes based on how hydrated you are. Dark yellow pee is the result of very little dilution of urochrome, which indicates that you’re dehydrated. Pee that’s a pale yellow or clear is highly diluted, which indicates you’re very hydrated!
The amount of dilution (on a scale from light yellow to dark amber) determines how the pigment will appear in your urine. The more water you drink and the more hydrated you become, the lighter the pigment in your urine will be.
What color should your urine be?
It’s almost impossible for you to go your entire life and not see your pee range in shades of yellow. The healthiest color for your pee to be is on the light-yellow side of the rainbow.2
What else changes urine color?
The pigments and chemical compounds in your food and medication can alter the color of your urine. If you drink plenty of water but are still asking why urine is bright yellow, it’s likely that the supplements that you’re taking are the answer to that question.
How Vitamins & Food Influence Your Urine
How’s it possible that vitamin supplements, which are good for your health, can make your pee look so unnatural, like a bright yellow highlighter? So, while we have the answer to how pee can be such a bright yellow color, you’re probably still wondering WHY is my pee fluorescent yellow?! We’re getting there!
There are two different kinds of vitamins – water soluble and fat soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K. If we consume more than our body needs, those vitamins are stored in the liver.3
Water-soluble vitamins are a different story.
Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, biotin, and vitamin C. When too much of any of those vitamins are consumed, they’re flushed out of the body after the body has absorbed everything it needs.4
One water-soluble vitamin is vitamin B2, called riboflavin, and it’s often associated with neon yellow pee. Even the name of the vitamin makes its effect pretty obvious; in Latin, the word flavus means yellow, hence riboflavin. Riboflavin was discovered in the 1800s and is found in most multivitamins today. Riboflavin helps support physical growth, the production of red blood cells, and helps turn carbohydrates into energy.
Other B-vitamins, such as cobalamin (B-12), is known to cause bright greenish yellow pee. If you take supplements or multivitamins, they may be the source of your brightly colored urine. Another culprit might be meal replacement shakes, because they’re fortified with B-vitamins.5
Another vitamin that can make your pee an unusual color is vitamin C!
However, unlike riboflavin, too much vitamin C does not make your pee bright yellow, but makes it bright orange color instead. Vitamin C is found in foods like tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, and citrus fruits.6
Beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, may also cause neon pee. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. It’s found in yellow and orange foods like carrots and sweet potatoes.7 Your diet is another one of the bright yellow urine causes. Natural foods like berries and beets can cause your bright yellow urine, no vitamins necessary.
Heavily processed foods that contain high amounts of food dye are another cause. This dye can interact with urochrome, a pigment that causes yellow urine, which is what causes bright yellow urine.
Why is my urine yellow after taking multivitamins?
How do multivitamins change urine color? There are a few reasons.
Many low-quality supplements are loaded with vitamins and nutrients that aren’t formulated to be adequately absorbed and used by the body. Ultimately, they can even do more harm than good, because you think that you’re getting all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that your body needs, but in fact, you are not at all.
Often the body cannot utilize a lot of the excessive low quality vitamins found in cheap supplement. As a result, they have to be flushed out of the system.
Another example is Riboflavin. Many people think that there is just one version of vitamin B2, known as riboflavin, and as a result, they think they’re getting the full benefits of this ingredient when they read the amount of it present in their recently purchased supplement. However, there is a far superior and more bio-available form of vitamin B2.
That means the yellow or orange urine that often results from taking poor quality supplements is a clear indication that your body is not utilizing the product’s ingredients as it should be.
By taking superior quality supplements, your body will benefit from the high quality ingredients, as the nutrients are fully absorbed.
Your yellow urine reveals one key thing. Your body has taken what it can from the vitamins that you took earlier in the day, and the rest cannot be used due to their excess amounts and inferior quality.
Exercise May Cause Bright Yellow Urine, No Vitamins Needed
But, while often responsible for making pee neon, supplements aren’t always the cause. Another way to have bright yellow urine without taking vitamins is exercise. If you aren’t hydrating during and after a workout, it will lead to dehydration and thus, is another factor in what causes your pee to be yellow.8 Extreme exercise without proper hydration can cause a serious condition that leads to muscle breakdown. This can cause severe muscle pain along with cola- or tea-colored urine. If this occurs, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications are also what will make your pee yellow or cause a high yellow urine color. Such medications include antibiotics, laxatives, and certain chemotherapy drugs. For example, the generic medication pyridium is commonly used to treat the discomfort associated with a urinary tract infection. One common side effect of the medication is neon urine. Other medication may also give you harmlessly neon colored urine.9
Medical Conditions & Urine Color
Changes in the color of your urine may also be a symptom of troubles with your kidney, liver, or bladder.10 The appearance of oil in urine may be symptomatic of these troubles as well. Other serious symptoms include pain while peeing, fever, vomiting, and even back pain.Urinary tract bleeding is another condition that you should take seriously, as well as any signs of pink or red urine and bleeding. If you’re concerned about changes in your urine, it’s important for you to discuss these changes with your doctor immediately.
As many as 60 percent of women experience a UTI, but men can get them too.11 Urinary tract bleeding is uncommon children, aside from rare disorders.
If you notice any of these things associated with your urine, it’s important to tell your doctor right away. With all of that said, if your only concern with your urine is its neon yellow appearance, it’s likely due to less worrisome causes.
Is Neon Urine Pregnancy Related?
I’m pregnant and my pee is neon yellow. What gives? Why is my urine neon yellow?
You may have heard about the fluorescent urine pregnancy myth. While there are some stories that suggest that bright urine is a sign of early pregnancy, there aren’t any scientific studies to support the claims. As if you don’t have enough to think and worry about while you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant. You shouldn’t go off of urine color alone to find out if you are pregnant.
Okay, but what about prenatal vitamins? How do they affect your pee? Do prenatal vitamins make you pee more? Prenatal vitamins do not make you pee more, unless you drink more water to accompany the extra vitamins that you’re consuming. However, prenatal vitamins do contain a higher quantity of certain vitamins in order to make sure mom and the baby both get the nutrients they need.12 With that in mind, it’s possible that taking a prenatal vitamin could be the answer to anyone asking why my pee is neon yellow?
Risk factors for unusual urine color
We’ve already gone over many of the reasons and causes of how to make your pee yellow. There are other colors, aside from bright yellow, that your pee might take on. Aside from the range of pale yellow to dark amber that is caused by hydration or lack of, there are some concerning medical conditions related to unusual urine color.
Risk factors that work against you are your age and your sex. Either may raise your risk of contracting these conditions that can affect the color of your urine.
Diagnosing abnormal urine color
If you notice any abnormalities in your urine color, you should see your doctor. They will discuss your health history and perform a physical exam. Depending on their assessment, your doctor may request a urinalysis or blood test.
What bright yellow urine means for you
How is abnormal urine color treated? Well, the answer to that question can vary. If you suspect what causes urine to be yellow has something to do with your supplements, the foods you eat, or lack of hydration, then you know how to make urine yellow and how to reverse that effect. Try simply increasing your water and fluids intake. This should dilute the neon yellow color. The color of your urine should return to its normal yellow color within days. This is often the case, due to the number of possible causes for bright yellow urine.
If that doesn’t work, you should consult with your doctor to figure out what the next step is. This next step depends on what your doctor says or discovers from your tests. If an underlying medical condition is found, your doctor will pursue treatment for that condition.
What’s the outlook for bright urine color?
What does it mean when your pee is really yellow? By now you should have a good idea of what the possible causes of bright yellow urine can be. If you have recently added a multivitamin or other kind of supplement to your diet, you likely need to drink more water to effectively flush out all the excess. The same goes if you have recently changed your diet. In fact, simply drinking more water (or its equivalent) will likely dilute the color of your pee, regardless of the reason why it’s so highly pigmented.
If your urine is some kind of deep yellow or highlighter yellow color, your body is probably trying to tell you to drink more water. The difference in color has different causes, but the solution is the same: get hydrated! Where you are doesn’t matter, whether you’re at the office, working out, or relaxing on the beach, you should always make sure that you’re well hydrated.