Many factors can change the smell of your urine, but most of the time, you have no reason to be alarmed. Illnesses or medications can change the look and smell of your urine, but one of the most common causes of altered urine is the food you eat. Several different foods can alter the smell of your urine, as well as change the color, and some of the results are pretty dramatic. Eating certain foods can make your urine smell like coffee or rotten cabbage, and it can change to fluorescent yellow and even to green in some instances.
Foods Rich in Vitamin B-6
Many vitamins that enter the body are let out through the urine, including any unused vitamin B-6 from your diet. When you consume a large amount of vitamin B6 through food, you might notice that your urine smells different because it contains a large amount of the vitamin. Bananas, salmon, turkey, chicken, potatoes and fortified cereals all come packed with vitamin B-6, and if you include servings of these foods in your diet you might notice urine odor. Vitamin B-6 supplements have a similar effect, and can also turn your urine a fluorescent yellow or green color.
Asparagus is one of the most well known vegetables for changing the smell and color of urine. When you consume enough asparagus, it can make your urine a green color, as well as give it a distinctive smell. High asparagus urine is said to smell like rotten cabbage, and the smell is thought to be caused by the sulfur compounds in the asparagus. If you notice a change in the color or smell of your urine when consuming asparagus, you have nothing to worry about.
Alcohol and Coffee
Both alcohol and coffee cause smelly urine because they are diuretics. After you consume coffee or alcohol, you likely will have to urinate more frequently, which can quickly lead to dehydration. After you become dehydrated, the uric acid and any other chemicals or vitamins in your urine become more concentrated and create stronger-smelling urine. If your urine darkens in color or takes on a stronger smell, you might need to drink more water. Other caffeinated drinks, including tea and some sodas, might cause a similar effect.
Garlic is a very pungent food that not only affects the smell of your breath and your sweat, but can also alter urine smell. Garlic contains -- methyl mercaptan-- the same sulfur compound responsible for causing urine odour after eating asparagus. However, it also comes with some urinary advantages, because garlic compounds have antimicrobial effects in your urine.
Is This an Emergency?
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin B6
- Harvard Health Publications: Urine Color and Odor
- UCLA Student Nutrition and Body Image Campaign: Drink to Your Health
- Dr. Neil Baum; "Urine Odor and Color Changes"; February 2011
- Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy: Antifungal Activity in Human Urine and Serum After Ingestion of Garlic (Allium sativum)