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Beeturia is passing of red or pink urine after eating beets. It affects 10-14% of the population.[1] While some believe it to be an autosomal recessive trait, it has been shown that individuals differ over time in having beeturia. Beeturia can appear and disappear in individuals.[2]


The red color seen in beeturia is caused by the presence of betalain pigments (e.g. betacyanins in beetroot passed through the body). [1]

Beeturic individuals have more oxalic acid in the intestines, preserving the pigment from being degraded in nonenzymic processes in the stomach and colon,[3], which causes more pigment to be available for absorption; as a result, the urine will be colored.[2] The concentration of colonic oxalic acid depends on the residue of the enteric oxalic acid not absorbed from the small intestine, which can vary between individuals,[2] and be particularly high in malabsorption syndromes involving oxalic acid. The gut flora plays an uncertain role in breakdown of pigment.[2]

Beetroot beeturia is more common in cases of iron deficiency with augmented iron absorption. It occurs in 66-80% of individuals with untreated iron deficiency anemia, 45% of individuals treated for pernicious anemia (augmented iron absoption due to vitamin B12 administration), and 33% of non-anemic patients with both malabsorption and biopsy-confirmed jejunal atrophy, as the jejunum plays an important role in iron absorption.[2] Furthermore, at least some of the 14% incidence in the general population may be due to the fluctuating nature of iron absorption in normal individuals.[2]

It does not seem to arise from deficiencies in hepatic metabolism or renal excretion. Uptake seems to be largely dependent on gastric pH and emptying rate.[1]

A single gene variant has been proposed as a cause, but the condition mainly seems to be determined by the general physiological state of the body.[2]

The degree of beeturia depends on the type of beetroot (for instance, the pigment concentration of the Detroit Rubidus variety is twice that of the Firechief variety), the times of planting and harvesting, addition of concentrated beetroot extract to certain brands, preparation (with boiled beetroot not predictably leading to beeturia, whereas pickled beetroot does, and addition of acid vinegar may alter the state of the oxalic acid) and intestinal function.


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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Beeturia and the biological fate of beetroot pigments. PMID: 8148871
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 allergyadvisor - Beeturia Compiled by Karen du Plessis B.Sc. Diet. Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services. Retrieved on October 24, 2009
  3. Beeturia and colonic oxalic acid. PMID: 7493168