Why does my pee smell like Cheerios?
November 2, 2010 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Why does my pee smell like Cheerios?

Recently I've noticed my pee sometimes smells like Cheerios. To be clear, I am not deliberately smelling my pee, it's just really strong.

I am female, 35, and breastfeeding a four-month old. Baby's pee sometimes smells like Cheerios too.

I don't eat Cheerios very often. I do eat sweets. I also take a lot of vitamins - a pre-natal multivitamin (I am not pregnant), fish oil supplements, flax oil supplements, calcium supplements, iron supplements, and two lactation supplements (Lactation Blend and Fenugreek). I also take an SSRI.

Fenugreek has made me smell like maple syrup in the past but I reduced my dosage and I don't smell like that any more. Also, not Cheerios.

I did a google search and found a couple of other people asking the same question but no real answers. I am curious! Also, if this means I have diabetes, it would be nice to know that.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah diabetes was my first thought too.

The kid is four months old? IANAD but I think that probably counts against gestational diabetes.

I would get checked by a doctor anyway. If you or your kid start to get other symptoms like weight loss, thirst, fatigue or a need to eat a lot, I'd definitely get it checked out.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 3:52 PM on November 2, 2010

I've never been diagnosed with diabetes and I have occasionally noticed this smell as well.
posted by mmascolino at 3:56 PM on November 2, 2010

What comes to mind for me are the vitamins you're taking. B-vitamins can make urine smell funny, in addition to brightly colored - and Cheerios are fortified with vitamins. I don't know about your nose, but I can smell the "vitamin" smell on Cheerios.
posted by jocelmeow at 3:58 PM on November 2, 2010

One of the reasons I can't stand Cheerios is that they smell like urine to me. No diabetes here, but now I'm really curious.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:01 PM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Before on Ask Metafilter. It could be the SSRI.
posted by wackybrit at 4:05 PM on November 2, 2010

Well, Fenugreek is what they use to make imitation maple syrup, so I'd blame that. Also,even if you had Gestational Diabetes, it generally goes away after birth and you aren't very likely to become Type 2 diabetic while breastfeeding. (IANAD, but had pretty bad GD three times. As soon as I gave birth each time, I was given a lovely dinner of jello, ice cream, etc. and no one ever checked my sugar. They seemed pretty sure that I was fine. I was told that breastfeeding usually uses up a lot of sugar and if I didn't start having problems a month or two after the baby was born, I was probably fine and to get regular check ups after I stopped breastfeeding to watch. If you are diabetic and nursing, I imagine you'd be seriously thirsty and notice that. When I was pregnant and diabetic, all I wanted was soup and water.)
posted by artychoke at 4:10 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cheerios smell like vitamins to me, too. My guess is that it is the vitamins you're taking. If you're worried about diabetes, you can check your own blood glucose and/or urinary ketone levels fairly easily (if a trip to a doctor is out of the question).
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:12 PM on November 2, 2010


You are taking a pre-natal multivitamin, fish oil, flax oil, calcium, iron, lactation blend and fenugreek. Lactation Blend by Vitanica contains: fennel, nettles, blessed thistle, vervain, hops, oat straw, raspberry leaf, Goat's Rue Aerial Parts, haste tree berry, fenugreek, milk thistle seed extract, borage seed oil, borage flower and top.

Assuming you are not diabetic (go get your blood sugar checked) I'm willing to bet one of the supplements or medications is causing it. You could try to isolate it. Stop taking one supplements for a few days to a week to see if it clears up. Obviously don't stop taking the SSRI without speaking to a doctor first.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:12 PM on November 2, 2010

I've noticed this smell on occasion too. However, it only seems to happen when I'm starting to develop a UTI, and is accompanied by cloudy urine and discomfort while peeing. I always assumed it was just an effect of the bacteria. And FWIW, I don't have diabetes. It could be a UTI that perhaps doesn't develop enough to cause other symptoms, but that wouldn't explain why your baby would also have it. :-/
posted by aldebaran at 4:16 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

As a completely different perspective, I notice this effect when I drink more than my usual amount of coffee. But to me, it smells exactly like Cheerios. I am not diabetic, don't take SSRIs, and can't correlate it with my occasional multivitamin consumption. But it really does seem to link to coffee, for me.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 4:22 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am so relieved to see that I am not the only person who thinks this-my husband and friends all look at me like I am bonkers. I never noticed it prior to having kids but now that I change a zillion wet diapers a day for two toddlers who also eat cheerios every morning, I totally agree-Cheerios smell like wet diapers to me. I can't eat them anymore. I weaned my youngest over a year ago, have not taken prenatal vitamins since then. I am not diabetic and have no health problems and don't take any supplements because I'm lazy. I'm not even on the pill anymore. I'd honestly concluded that I was just weird. So I'd mention it to your doctor but I'm seconding the possibility that Cheerios just really do smell like urine.
posted by supercapitalist at 4:23 PM on November 2, 2010

While I was breastfeeding my pee and my baby's pee often had a strange and distinctive odor - I thought it weirdly smelled of baby formula (which neither of us was consuming). I never asked a doctor, but now that I'm no longer breastfeeding this occurs much less frequently, slowly tapering to never. I think it's probably hormones mixed with vitamins.
posted by lodie6 at 4:28 PM on November 2, 2010

I have this happen all the time, and I'm not diabetic. I generally don't take vitamins, and I'm pretty far from diabetes. It's one of those weird things.
posted by Slinga at 4:31 PM on November 2, 2010

I was going to suggest the coffee thing also. I have definitely noticed this sort of thing in correlation with drinking coffee, no matter what time of day, and never when I haven't had any coffee.
posted by wondermouse at 4:46 PM on November 2, 2010

I switched my kids to multigrain Cheerios because the regular ones smell like pee.
posted by hey you over in the corner at 5:00 PM on November 2, 2010

I have noticed the Cheerios smell when I've taken vitamins. I smell Cheerios in both my urine and the vitamin bottles, too. It's one of the reasons I don't take vitamin pills anymore - I began to realize that I was pissing most of the contents away, literally.

Might be a good reason to talk to your doc about what you really need to be taking and what's just flowing expensively out the other end. Being a non-doctor, and knowing that nursing mothers have unique nutritional needs, I wouldn't presume to advise you myself.
posted by richyoung at 5:16 PM on November 2, 2010

Oh, and I don't take any supplements/vitamins. For me it's definitely the coffee. I don't put sugar in it, either.
posted by wondermouse at 5:24 PM on November 2, 2010

Only when I've had a LOT of coffee. Then, yes, Cheerios.
posted by WyoWhy at 5:41 PM on November 2, 2010

Another vote for vitamins, crossed with flaky hormones affecting your sense of smell.
posted by kmennie at 5:45 PM on November 2, 2010

Sounds like a yeast infection to me! And by yeast, I mean candida, and that can result in intestinal/bladder thrush for your baby, and Cheerio smelling pee for you. (And me.. Sigh... My case is much worse though.)

Dose up on fresh yogurt with acidopholus and l. bacillus cultures, and if you're still smelling it, pick up some Natra-Bio Candida Yeast Relief tablets from your local health food store.
posted by patronuscharms at 5:48 PM on November 2, 2010

here's my vote for b-vitamins. when i've taken them in the past--by themselves, not in a multivitamin--i have definitely not only had cheerio-scented pee, but belched cheerio flavored burps as well (b-vitamins don't set well with me, apparently). ick.

lots of coffee can do it, but i'd be more likely to suspect the vitamins.
posted by miss patrish at 6:20 PM on November 2, 2010

Cheerios are fortified with vitamins...

For what it's worth, most General Mills cereals are fortified with a similar vitamin mixes. The Cheerios "smell" is a combination of the vitamins plus the smell of oats -- the other Cheerios flavors (even the MultiGrain) and Big G cereals have more sugars and other scents that cover the vitamin-y smell more.

Disclaimer: I work for General Mills' prepress supplier. It's in my best interests if you all eat lots of Cheerios.
posted by nathan_teske at 6:30 PM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Is your pee dark? Are you dehydrated? My pee smells really, uh, "rich" and kind of earthy when I'm dehydrated. Breastfeeding dehydrates some, dunnit?
posted by tristeza at 6:38 PM on November 2, 2010

The people who suggested diabetes might be assuming that Cheerios smell sweet, since sugar in the urine is a sign of diabetes.

But Cheerios don't smell sweet. They smell dry and a little bitter.
Basically they smell like pee.

OP, your pee doesn't smell like Cheerios; your Cheerios (and mine) smell like pee.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:52 PM on November 2, 2010

Obligatory Natalie Dee link!
posted by pullayup at 8:45 PM on November 2, 2010

You are taking a whole lot of supplements. Is it possible that you're overdosing on one or more vitamins/minerals? Read your ingredient labels for overlaps. And please make sure your doctor is aware that you're taking all these supplements.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:43 PM on November 2, 2010

The odor is that of B vitamins.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry at 10:46 PM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty sure that I've noticed the same smell before, but it always seemed more like sugar crisps or honey smacks to me. Probably the vitamins.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:08 AM on November 3, 2010

(Great! I don't think I'll be able to eat Cheerios again. Not that I am a big Cheerio-eater in the first place...)

Nthing the B vitamins. I have found that taking a B-complex on top of a multi with B already in it gives me chartreuse pee that smells funny. I'm talking neon chartreuse and, um, fragrant.

But do see a doc to get checked out just in case. If it's just an excess of vitamins, your doc will say so. If it's something more alarming, you'll be glad you caught it.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:06 AM on November 3, 2010

My pee sometimes smells like Captain Crunch!

I never figured out what causes it, but I've had my blood sugar checked, and I'm not quite even in the pre-diabetic range yet, so that's some evidence that cereal-smelling urine happens to non-diabetics at least sometimes. My latest theory is that maybe it happens when I eat storebought candy with weird non-sugar sweeteners in it, for whatever's that worth.
posted by Eshkol at 5:12 PM on November 3, 2010

CHEERIOMG! My pee smells like Cheerios!!!! Thank you SO MUCH. For years, on and off, I'll notice that my pee smells like something, but I can never place it. Vanilla? Nutty? What IS that? And now, I know. It's Cheerios.

Haven't been eating any lately. Or any cold cereal. Oatmeal, yes. Tons of oxtail soup this week, too. And candy.
posted by iguanapolitico at 3:07 PM on November 4, 2010

Seconding iguanapolitico's CHEERIOMG. I never noticed that before and this morning I realized, GASP, it does smell like cheerios. My kids are more into the honey nut variety, I guess. There certainly won't be anymore regular cheerios in the house now. Ew. I haven't been eating any sugar lately, btw. I've had some oats and some bread lately, but no cereal or candy or anything.
posted by artychoke at 8:58 AM on November 5, 2010

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