Staying Hydrated? Perform a Urine Test

The color of your urine can often be a great indicator of your hydration level.  Light color urine typically indicates that you are well hydrated, while darker urine may indicate that you are dehydrated. The dark color of the urine is due to the fact that water levels in the body are depleted.

Our kidneys, which filter waste, will retain water when dehydrated. This will cause a lower concentration of water and higher concentration of waste in the urine, causing it to take on a more dark color. In 1988, Professor Lawrence E. Armstrong created the urine color chart, based on a 2-week study of urine color and its relation to hydration level.

Read More How Much Water Should You Be Consuming in One Day?

A urine color chart can be used to practically self assess your hydration level. Lighter color urine also indicates that your kidneys are releasing water because they have an ample amount of water stored. The main function of the kidneys is to maintain the right amount of water, salts, and acids to sustain life. Below is an illustration of the urine color chart and what different urine colors can indicate about your hydration level.


While the urine color chart is a useful tool in assessing hydration level, it is not one hundred percent accurate. There are several other factors that can affect urine color. These include:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Drinking tea, coffee and other diuretic drinks
  • Swimming in cold water
  • Drinking a lot of water in a short amount of time
  • Nerves
  • Medications

A great example of this is when you take a multi-vitamin and your urine is bright yellow. The reason for this is that those vitamins have such a high concentration of vitamins that the body cannot absorb such high levels. Therefore, your kidneys flush out all of the excess “waste” that the body cannot absorb. Nevertheless, when assessing your hydration level by urine color, your urine should be between 1-3 on the above chart. If you are in that 4-6 range on the chart, this is a strong indicator that you are probably dehydrated. If you are an active person, self-assessing your urine color can be a useful tool to making sure that you are hydrated properly for activity. Next time you are unsure if you are properly hydrated, perform a urine color test.

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