If you experience a strange asparagus urine smell after eating asparagus, there might be a genetic component involved. Harness the power of genomic science to learn more about your genetic profile.
If you enjoy eating asparagus, you’ve probably noticed a peculiar and somewhat unpleasant side effect. It’s not an indication of any problematic medical issues, and there is no physical discomfort.
But it is weird, nonetheless.
It’s … the smell.
Yes – after eating asparagus, a lot of us experience a less-than-pleasant odor coming from our urine.
Asparagus isn’t the only food product that can alter the smell of our urine – coffee and garlic are well-known for having this effect. However, asparagus itself doesn’t have as distinct a smell as coffee and garlic do. Taken out of the asparagus urine smell context, most people probably wouldn’t think of asparagus as being especially aromatic.
While this phenomenon is not unique, there is a legitimate genetic component in our ability to experience asparagus-associated urine pungency.
The chemical reaction involved in the asparagus-induced change in smell involves the digestion of asparagusic acid, a chemical that is only found in asparagus plants. The compounds are broken down into sulfuric byproducts, which evaporate quickly in urine.
But not everyone is affected in the same way. Between 20% and 50% of people experience urine changes after eating asparagus. Some people’s urine doesn’t change post-asparagus consumption. And other people can’t detect a change in the smell. When you don’t possess the ability to smell the chemical changes in your urine after eating asparagus, you have asparagus anosmia. But what genetic factors are at play?
A 2016 study published in BMJ further investigates the genetic basis of asparagus anosmia, branching out from an earlier 2010 study.
The researchers discovered that around 60% of participants could not detect any odor in their urine after consuming asparagus. This supports the theory that the ability to detect the odor is a rarer characteristic. It was found that 871 gene loci were statistically significantly associated with asparagus anosmia. Of these, one specific region on chromosome 1 was most strongly associated, and this region contained members of the olfactory receptor (OR2) gene family, whose expression mediates our sense of smell.
It is important to keep in mind that the study population was of European descent and calls into question whether or not we can generalize these results to other populations. Additional research is certainly merited, though the study captures an interesting genetic basis for why some people can perceive this odor, yet others cannot.
It is impossible to know whether the ability to detect a particular asparagus genetic variant will yield valuable information about our health and wellness. However, knowing about your genetic makeup will help you make better, more personalized decisions about your health and lifestyle.
Are you curious whether you have the asparagus urine smell gene or not? You might know whether you have the asparagus gene simply by what you smell after eating asparagus. But if you want an in-depth, science-based answer, an analysis of your raw DNA file will offer you the most comprehensive information. Genetic DNA testing Analysis on Genomelink can give you a full DNA analysis to answer your question of whether you have asparagus anosmia.
Explore your genetic makeup by signing up with Genomelink today!