If your skin is looking a bit pale (which can occur in people of any skin tone), there's usually a reason. It could be anything from a vitamin B12 deficiency to a symptom of anemia. The same is true when your stool is a paler-than-normal color—it doesn't usually happen randomly.

"There's always going to be a reason," says Christine Traxler, MD, a family practitioner at Invigor Medical, in Le Sueur, Minnesota, "but it doesn't necessarily mean you're dealing with a serious issue."

Generally speaking, poop is brown because as the food you've eaten makes its way down your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, it gets stained by bile, explains Harry Thomas, MD, a gastroenterologist in Austin, Texas.

Bile is made in the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and released via the bile duct relatively early on in the digestive process (after food moves from the stomach to the intestine). Bile helps break down fats in the food we eat. That means that your stool starts out a more bilious greenish-yellow but becomes increasingly brown before it finally exits the body. (Is your stool a funny color? Here's why your poop is green.)

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