Why Does My Urine Smell Funny After I Eat Asparagus?


2 Answers

Samuel Chiltern Profile
Samuel Chiltern answered
It's long been observed that asparagus (and artichokes) cause the urine to develop a disagreeable smell.

Research suggests that this phenomenon affects most people, although it's thought that only approximately 22% of people are able to detect the smell from asparagus in urine.

The French writer, Marcel Proust clearly possessed this ability, and he summed up the effects that eating asparagus has on the smell of his own urine like this:

"[asparagus] ...transforms my chamber-pot into a flask of perfume"

How Does Asparagus Produce That Funny Smell?
It's not fully understood how eating asparagus causes this smell, but it is believed to be related to the way that particular compounds in the vegetable are broken down by the human body. Usually, it only takes about 20 minutes after eating for the body to create the chemicals responsible for the smell.

The result of this metabolic activity produces ammonia - and a variety of other chemicals that contain sulfur - and these are what cause that pungent smell.

Methyl mercaptan is one of the sulfur compounds which is believed to be particularly responsible. This substance is found in eggs, bad breath and the odor of flatulence, so I'm sure this explanation ties in with your own experience!

Young asparagus causes a more pronounced smell, but is nicer to eat, because the vegetable becomes very woody as it ages, and is far less enjoyable as a result.

How Can I Stop Asparagus Making My Urine Smell?
There is no known way to cook asparagus differently in order to prevent this smell from occurring, although diluting your urine by drinking more fluids might make the smell less noticeable.

However, if you're one of those people who can detect the smell, then there isn't much else you can do to avoid it, other than by not eating asparagus at all. Luckily for me, it seems that this is one gift I don't possess!
donna jackson Profile
donna jackson answered
Everyone's urine smells funny after eating asparagus. It is due to a chemical present in the asparagus (and other foods like artichokes) that reacts with the uric acid in the urine and smells sulphurous.

I imagine many people have been surprised by this. You can go some way towards minimising this by drinking a lot of water to dilute your urine, or eating a spoon of bi-carbonate of soda after the meal.

It will not last longer than a day. It might only last a few hours, depending on the amount you ate, and how often you've visited the bathroom since. Interestingly, research has shown it affects all bodily fluids, so don't be suprised if your partner notices.

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