The cause of orange stool is usually orange food. Specifically, it’s beta carotene that gives food an orange color and does the same to your poop. Beta carotene is a type of compound called a carotenoid. Carotenoids can be red, orange, or yellow and are found in many types of vegetables, fruits, grains, and oils. Foods rich in beta carotene include carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.
Beta carotene is also known as a “provitamin.” That’s because it can be converted into an active form of vitamin A. Synthetic forms of beta carotene are also sold as supplements. Taking supplements packed with beta carotene can lead to orange stool. Also, food dyes — such as those used to make orange soda or orange-colored treats — can do the same trick on your stool.
Digestive problems, both minor and serious, can lead to changes in stool color. The brown color of a normal stool is caused by the way bile interacts with enzymes in your stool. Bile is an acidic liquid produced by the liver to aid in digestion. If your stool isn’t absorbing enough bile, it may be light gray or tan. This can happen when you have a short-term case of diarrhea or if you have a more serious liver condition. Sometimes babies have blocked bile ducts, which leads to loose orange or grayish stool.
Medications that may cause orange stool
Certain medications, such as the antibiotic rifampin, may cause orange or light-colored stool. Medications containing aluminum hydroxide — antacids, for example — may produce orange or gray stool in some people.