Healthy Tahoe: An indicator of health is the color of your urine |

Healthy Tahoe: An indicator of health is the color of your urine

Brian Steixner, MD

Many of us remember the guideline to drink a total of eight full glasses of eight ounces of water each day, but how can we be sure this is always enough and how do we know when we are in danger? The answer can be found in the color of your urine.

Urine is a byproduct of the kidneys filtering your blood, eliminating unneeded waste and keeping needed elements and minerals. The kidneys also regulate the water in your body, keeping you running like a well-cared-for machine.

Most of the time the urine is made up of almost 95% water and remains a pale yellow in color, but as dehydration sets in, it can turn dark yellow to orange. The dominate yellow color is caused by the breakdown and excretion of old red blood cells, the cells in your body that carry oxygen.

For years, athletes and trainers have looked for the best gauge for hydration, with modern Olympiads using tests such as sweat composition, body weight changes, and blood tests. While these invasive and expensive tests may be necessary to win a gold medal, a basic awareness of your urine color can come very close to monitoring your hydration.

So just what does your urine color say about your hydration status?

Almost 60% of the human body is made up of water, with certain areas like muscle and skin having water content as high as 85%.

Our bodies are constantly losing water, and the amount we lose is dramatically affected by the temperature, altitude, and amount of physical activity we are involved in. Keep an eye on your health and hydration by monitoring the color of your urine.

If it is dark in color, it’s time to drink more water. And if is red or brown, there may be a more serious issue and a visit to the urologist is in order.

Dr. Brian Steixner is a board-certified urologist, and sees patients at Barton Urology. To schedule an appointment, call 530.543.5400. To learn more about services and medical treatments available to the community at Barton Urology, visit

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