Q: Why does eating asparagus give my urine a strange smell?
Dr. Dave says: This smell has been described since at least the 1700s. It comes from sulfur-containing compounds (primarily methanethiol, first identified in the 1890s) that are produced when we eat, digest and break down asparagus—and apparently the younger the asparagus, the stinkier it is, irrespective of how it’s prepared. What’s always been amazing to me is how fast it happens. However, not everyone knows about this phenomenon. How is that possible? Historically, it was thought that some people’s bodies don’t break down the products in such a way that it produces the smell. However, based on studies done in the 1980s, it turns out that pretty much everybody’s urine has the asparagus smell, but only about 20 percent of the population can smell it!