Sporadic Red Urine: It May Be Beeturia

Have you ever looked down and noticed that your urine was red? Ack! What a startling thing to see! But wait-next time that happens, think back�..Did you eat beets recently? Ahhhhhhhh. That will do it.

A consistently red color in the urine is something to be watchful of, unless you eat beets frequently. But what does it mean when you see the red urine only after indulging in the crimson tuber? It does not happen automatically, and only 14 percent of the population has it occur. It is actually a test your urine has given you to see if you are deficient in iron.

“Beeturia” is the name for this phenomenon, and it may at times occur because of pernicious anemia, which is a chronic condition caused by gastric atrophy which leads to deficient intrinsic factors to process B 12. On the other hand, beeturia may be genetic, as the capability to metabolize the betalaine, or betaine, the red pigment, is a recessive gene, and with two recessive genes, a person would inevitably pee red each time he or she ate beets. So red urine is not as simple a test as we would like. If it happens every time even if you make a concerted effort to ingest enough iron, it may be because you have one of these other conditions. Eating beets while eating a lot of other oxalic acid containing foods such as spinach, rhubarb, or chocolate has been said to cause the red urine as well.

However, the majority of the time, if you are surprised by red urine, the beeturia is a convenient hint that you should be getting more iron. Notice if you have had heart palpitations recently. Look in the mirror and pull down your lower eyelid. If it is very pale, you may be low on iron. Your gums may also be pale if you anemic. Try eating more foods that contain iron, or take supplements, and eat beets again. Vegetable soup that is heavy on the beets is a hearty, enlivening food. The soup comes out a vivacious color, and you can keep it around for days in the refrigerator, for a bit each day for a test for your iron level. Once you urinate a normal color after eating the beets, you can feel proud that you discovered what may have been making you tired for awhile, and now you are regaining more nutritional balance with more iron. It’s a good feeling.

Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, headaches, feeling weak or passing out, pale skin, lips, and fingernails. Children in school with iron deficiency score lower on math tests than those with enough iron. (Pediatrics, 6/01) Iron carries oxygen to the cells, forms collagen, aids the immune system, and more.
Excellent sources of iron are nettles, burdock root, raisins, apples, molasses, pumpkin seeds, and yellow dock. Animal protein foods, including fish and eggs, contain the heme form of iron, which is more easily absorbed than plant sources, which are non heme. Eating plant sources with vitamin C or animal protein will help bring out the iron in them, as it is beneficial to get a variety of sources. Taking an iron supplement would make a good absorption tool as well. Iron absorption can be inhibited by eating foods with oxalic acid, but primarily, only if they are uncooked, and they are generally foods that are not eaten raw. Cooking acidic foods in cast iron pots can increase the iron in your food as much as 30 times.

Beets have more minerals than just iron, also containing calcium, magnesium, potassium. They are high in the vitamins C, thiamin, folic acid, riboflavin, beta-carotene, A, and K. The betaine detoxifies the liver and thins the bile. Eating beets encourages the production of more antioxidant enzymes, more immune cells, and it lowers cholesterol. Beets have also proven to inhibit stomach cancer caused by nitrates, which people consume in many processes foods.

The color makes beets fun to cook with, though be careful, as betaine does make them stain. Steamed beets are good with flax oil and lemon. They go quite well in stir fries. If you are working hard to bring your iron levels up, don’t eat beets raw.

Because of their oxalic acid content, beets should be avoided by people with kidney or gallbladder problems. Oxalic acid containing foods have the unfortunate drawback of interfering with calcium metabolism, so if you are eating something high in calcium, eat the beets at a different meal. This is a good fact to know, as many people eat raw spinach, which is high in oxalic acid, thinking they are getting a healthy dose of calcium.

So, unless you have kidney or gallstones, or need to focus heavily on calcium absorption, eating beets cleanses and heals. And it is also a relatively good test for iron deficiency because of the phenomenon of beeturia. Handy.

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