Why does asparagus urine smell so strong, and can it be prevented?

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Asparagus is, without question, a popular seasonal vegetable. Less famous: the harsh smell that urine can give off after eating asparagus. Where does it come from, and can it be prevented?

Strange urine smell after eating asparagus

The typical smell of urine is the aspartic acid contained in asparagus, or more precisely: its sulfur-containing decomposition products. Sulfur is known to have an unpleasant odor.

Therefore, it is not the asparagus that is to blame but rather an endogenous enzyme that breaks down the sulfur-containing substances of that aspartic acid.

Not everyone’s urine smells after eating asparagus

Some people lack the enzyme to break down this acid, which means that the strong-smelling breakdown products cannot be produced in the first place. As a result, they do not have the typical asparagus urine odor.

The reason why people react so differently to asparagus is probably hereditary. Incidentally, there is also a third group. This group produces the corresponding odorants but cannot perceive them themselves. In other words, the sulfur substances are present, but the urinating person cannot smell them.

Can you prevent the asparagus urine smell?

Those for whom eating asparagus leaves a scent, there’s not anything they can do about it. Drinking plenty of fluids does help to eliminate the decomposition products from the body more quickly. Unfortunately, this does not make the smell noticeably less unpleasant.

However, there are indications that the strong smell of asparagus in the urine can be reduced – by eating strawberries. A Norwegian study showed, quite by chance, that asparagus urine can then smell less intense and even slightly like strawberries.

The reason: a chemical reaction between secondary plant substances of the strawberries and protein fragments of the asparagus. This inhibits the formation of sulfur-containing compounds. Even if a long shot has clarified not all the details: A large portion of strawberries for dessert or before the asparagus menu cannot harm.

Dietary supplements also change the urine

Since asparagus has a dehydrating effect, there are also dietary supplements with asparagus extract. These products can also make themselves felt in the urine – but differently. The consumer advice center points out that these products can cause the urine to turn orange or blue-green.

But even if one may find the urine odor unpleasant: it is not an indicator of a harmful effect on health. On the contrary, asparagus is known to be very healthy.

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