• A gastroenterologist answers questions about beeturia.

    If what you see in the toilet after eating beets alarms you, here are some responses from Mervyn D. Danilewitz, MD, FACG, AGAF, Chief of Gastroenterology, Mercy Philadelphia Hospital.

    Just how much beet juice can end up in the toilet after drinking a glass?

    Dr. Danilewitz says that the whole glass can end up in the toilet, in the sense that “The beetroot pigment called betanin is responsible for the red coloring in urine and feces,” he explains.

    “Some people cannot break the pigment down and this results in excretion of the pigment in urine and feces. The rest of the beetroot is digested and no nutrients should be lost. The beetroot red pigment is indigestible.”

    Can beets make stools appear black?

    “The more beets that are eaten, the darker the red coloring will be in urine and feces,” says Dr. Danilewitz. “This coloring may look black, but beetroot should not cause black stools.”

    How long can beeturia last?

    “Beeturia (urine) usually lasts for 48 hours, but this varies in people who have slow or a faster rate of passing feces. It also depends on amount of fluids one drinks. It has nothing to do with malabsorption or iron absorption.”

    If these situations worry you, then keep track of when you eat beets, even if it’s just small amounts in a salad. This vegetable is extremely nutrient dense and much under-rated for its antioxidant properties.

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