Why Does Asparagus Make Your Pee Smell?

This is not an article, so don’t expect intricate, technical answers to all that is asparagus and smelly urine. However, the title does raise a valid question…why is it that the morning after you consume asparagus does your pee smell different to normal? Beet root makes your pee turn reddish/pink, asparagus makes it smell, so what is the deal here!?

Well, asparagus contains a sulphurous compound called mercaptan (which is also found in rotten eggs, onions and garlic). During the digestion of mercaptan, the by-products cause this strange yet distinctive smell. This is such a fast process that your urine can smell within 15-30mins after ingestion! However, only a certain number of people possess the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of mercaptan, so not everybody produces the odour, nor can everybody actually smell it.

Hope this clears up that mystery a little.


guardian.co.uk. (2013). Why does asparagus make urine smell? Are there any other vegetables that have a similar effect? Retrieved 17th April, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-23996,00.html

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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