May 8, 2013

Why Does Asparagus Make Your Pee Stink?

Joseph Stromberg, Smithsonian


AP Photo

If you’ve ever noticed a strange, not-entirely-pleasant scent coming from your urine after you eat asparagus, you’re definitely not alone.

Distinguished thinkers as varied as Scottish mathematician and physician John Arbuthnot (who wrote in a 1731 book that “asparagus…affects the urine with a foetid smell”) and Marcel Proust (who wrote how the vegetable “transforms my chamber-pot into a flask of perfume”) have commented on the phenomenon.

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TAGGED: Asparagus, Smell, Volatile Organic Compounds, Urine