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Can Vitamins Change the Color of Your Bowel Movement?

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Can Vitamins Change the Color of Your Bowel Movement?
Close-up of a variety of vitamins. Photo Credit SerrNovik/iStock/Getty Images

Changes in stool color often have harmless causes. However, it's crucial to know when a change in stool color may indicate something more serious. The foods you eat and even the vitamins and supplements you take can influence the color of your stool. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

Iron Supplements

Iron is perhaps the most commonly known supplement that changes stool color. If you've recently started taking an iron supplement or a multivitamin that contains iron, you may notice that you have darker stools. Iron can make your stools very dark, or even black, and this is a normal side effect. It's actually a good sign that the iron tablets are working as intended, says MedlinePlus.

Whole Food Supplements

Some vitamin supplements are made from whole foods such as vegetables and fruit and serve as a concentrated source of nutrients. Theoretically, taking a whole food supplement may cause stool discoloration. Plants only contain several brightly colored nutrents like chlorophyll -- a green pigment -- that contribute to their color. Taking a whole food supplement, or a vitamin that contains chlorophyll, may cause your stool to take on a greenish color because of the amount of chlorophyll you're taking in.

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Supplements With Carotenoids

Carotenoids are a group of plant pigments responsible for the yellow, orange and green pigments in plants. Taking a multivitamin high in beta carotene or any of the other carotenoids can potentially change the color of your stool. Green or dark stools can be a side effect of a prenatal vitamin that contains beta carotene, according to Drugs.com.

Diet and Stool

If you've recently changed your diet or started eating new foods, you may notice a change to your stool color. For example, if you've eaten beets within the last couple of days, your stool may take on a purplish-red color. In some cases, stool discoloration can indicate health issues such as hepatitis, hemorrhoids or gallstone disease. It's always best to discuss your concerns with your doctor.

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