Shrimps, Vitamin C And Arsenic Make For A Fishy Hoax

Vitamin C : Good

Shrimp : Tasty

Eaten together : Death?

Shrimps, Vitamin C And Arsenic Make For A Fishy Hoax


If you believe the following email forward, which has been in circulation for about 8 years incidentally, then you may be inclined to believe that mixing vitamin C with shrimp could be potentially fatal.

Whilst it certainly is possible that someone could react badly to certain foods (my dad is allergic to seafood, for instance) there have certainly been no reported cases of vitamin C and shrimp reacting in the stomach to create arsenic.


Taiwan, a woman suddenly died unexpectedly with signs of bleeding from her ears, nose, mouth & eyes. After a preliminary autopsy it was diagnosed death due to arsenic poisoning death. Where did the arsenic come from?

The police launched an in-depth and extensive investigation. A medical school professor was invited to come to solve the case.

The professor carefully looked at the contents from the deceased’s stomach, in less than half an hour, the mystery was solved. The professor said: ‘The deceased did not commit suicide and neither was she murdered, she died of accidental death due to ignorance!’

Everyone was puzzled, why accidental death? The arsenic is of the U.S.

military for carrying rice seedlings H Gao. The professor said: ‘The arsenic is produced in the stomach of the deceased.’ The deceased used to take ‘Vitamin C’ everyday, which in itself is not a problem. The problem was that she ate a large portion of shrimp/prawn during dinner. Eating shrimp/prawn is not the problem that’s why nothing happened to her family ever though they took the same shrimp/prawn.

However at the same time the deceased also took ‘vitamin C’, that is where the problem is!

Researchers at the University of Chicago in the United States , found through experiments, food such as soft-shell shrimp/prawn contains a much higher concentration of – five potassium arsenic compounds.

Such fresh food by itself has no toxic effects on the human body!

However, in taking ‘vitamin C’, due to the chemical reaction, the original non-toxic – five potassium arsenic (As anhydride, also known as arsenic oxide, the chemical formula for As205) changed to a three potassium toxic arsenic (ADB arsenic anhydride), also known as arsenic trioxide, a chemical formula (As203), which is commonly known as arsenic to the public!

Arsenic poisoning have magma role and can cause paralysis to the small blood vessels, “mercapto Jimei”??, inhibits the activity of the liver and fat necrosis change Hepatic Lobules Centre, heart, liver, kidney, intestine congestion, epithelial cell necrosis, telangiectasia.

Therefore, a person who dies of arsenic poisoning will shows signs of bleeding from the ears, nose, mouth & eyes.

Therefore; as a precautionary measure,

DO NOT not take shrimp/prawn when taking ‘vitamin C’.

After reading this; please do not be stingy.. Forward to your friends and family!!

As I’m sure you have now deduced, the email above is a hoax.

Many email hoaxes are written for fun, often containing grains of true or links to true stories.

Whilst forwarding them may seem like the right thing to do just remember that they clog up people’s inboxes and can, sometimes, lead to your email address being harvested for far more sinister purposes.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. I don’t think it’s true … Maybe Jamie and Adam from Mythbusters should give it a try ????

  2. I take 1000 mill of vitamin c a day, can I still eat shrimp?

    • @ill, as stated above, this is a hoax, and anyone who has not missed one’s elementary chemistry classes at school can see, for example, that “potassium arsenic … also known as arsenic oxide” is a chemical absurdity, because arsenic oxide contains no potassium. You are perfectly safe eating shrimp or any seafood while taking vitamin C (even though I’d watch for mercury, which is a REAL threat from seafood these days, but unrelated and unaffected by vitamin C or anything else you ingest).

      I’d add, however, that most sound scientific evidence (carefully controlled and peer-reviewed studies published in reputed medical periodicals) shows that the only proven effect of taking high doses of vitamin C is expensive urine. The recommended daily dose of vitamin C is only 60 mg (less than 1/16 of what you’re taking), there are studies showing perfectly healthy people who ingest even less, and others showing that most people other than malnourished poor ones in the Third World already take more than 60 mg/day in their regular diets. So, if you’re not a sailor of old living only on stale biscuits for months, keep your precious money or spend it in some nice oranges for some delicious freshly pressed juice.

  3. ancylostoma says:

    you know sometimes, if you die , you die, shit

  4. I strongly disagree! 8s not true, Everyday I took 1 capsule of Vitamin C and my favorite food is Seafood including shrimp but I am still alive and kicking.

  5. Nalliah Thayabharan says:

    Shrimp, Vitamin C & Arsenic poisoning

    Marine organisms normally contain arsenic residues ranging from < 1 to more than 100 mg/kg, predominantly as organic arsenic species such as arsenosugars (macroalgae) and arsenobetaine (invertebrates and fish). Bioaccumulation of organic arsenic compounds, after their biogenesis from inorganic forms, occurs in aquatic organisms. Bioconcentration factors in freshwater invertebrates and fish for arsenic compounds are lower than for marine organisms. Biomagnification in aquatic food chains has not been observed. Background arsenic concentrations in freshwater and terrestrial biota are usually less than 1 mg/kg (fresh weight).

    With the exception of fish, most foods contain less than 0.25 µg/g arsenic. Many species of fish contain between 1 and 10 µg/g. Arsenic levels at or above 100 µg/g have been found in bottom feeders and shellfish. Both lipid- and water-soluble organoarsenic compounds have been found but the water-soluble forms constitute the larger portion of the total arsenic content. The nature of these compounds has been shown to be mainly of the quaternary arsonium type. As was mentioned above, arsenobetaine is believed to be the most predominant species, but recent Canadian results demonstrated a higher level of arsenocholine than arsenobetaine in shrimps.

    Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. In living organisms ascorbate acts as an antioxidant by protecting the body against oxidative stress. It is also a cofactor in at least eight enzymatic reactions including several collagen synthesis reactions that, when dysfunctional, cause the most severe symptoms of scurvy. In animals these reactions are especially important in wound-healing and in preventing bleeding from capillaries.

    Ascorbate (an ion of ascorbic acid) is required for a range of essential metabolic reactions in all animals and plants. It is made internally by almost all organisms although notable mammalian group exceptions are most or all of the order chiroptera (bats), guinea pigs, capybaras, and one of the two major primate suborders, the Anthropoidea (Haplorrhini) (tarsiers, monkeys and apes, including human beings). Ascorbic acid is also not synthesized by some species of birds and fish. All species that do not synthesize ascorbate require it in the diet. Deficiency in this vitamin causes the disease scurvy in humans. It is also widely used as a food additive.

    Although there is no compelling evidence that vitamin C has antitumor activity in humans, clinical trials are testing the hypothesis that ascorbic acid will enhance the efficacy of arsenic trioxide (As2O3) in myeloma. In vitro, ascorbic acid cytotoxicity depends on its interaction with free transition metal ions in culture media leading to the generation of H2O2 and other reactive oxygen species. To circumvent the extracellular in vitro pro-oxidant effects of ascorbic acid, HL60, U266, and RPMI-8226 cells are loaded with vitamin C by incubation with dehydroascorbic acid. Loading cells in this manner resulted in prominent, dose-dependent protection of As2O3-treated cells as measured by viability, colony formation, and apoptosis assays. Glutathione depletion enhanced cell sensitivity to the cytotoxic effects of As2O3 and vitamin C loading provided protection. Ascorbic acid was found to generate cytotoxic concentrations of H2O2 in culture medium without cells and copper/iron chelators inhibited this reaction. However, ascorbic acid did not generate H2O2 in simple buffer or human plasma. Direct incubation with ascorbic acid resulted in increased intracellular reactive oxygen species , whereas dehydroascorbic acid incubation decreased it. These results clarify an apparent paradox and indicate that vitamin C loading in HL60, U266, and RPMI-8226 cells ameliorates As2O3 cytotoxicity.

  6. So basically the email is purposively a fake but you haven’t disproved it. You simply just said that it’s not true.

    • youmustbejk says:

      The onus is on people making the initial claim to prove it, actually, and the email makes a claim to be true but hasn’t proved anything either. Can’t find any record of the police or claims made by this nameless professor (people are prone to name dropping, after all, it affords them at least a small bit of initial credibility). More importantly, the apparently serious sounding chemistry bits are absolutely non-sensical – just technical-sounding phrases it’s lifted from some reduction reactions involving arsenic that do exist but are only applicable in much harsher chemical conditions than the human body. ‘As I’m sure you have now deduced’, everything about that section is wrong from the very terminology it uses to the sheer irrelevance to the actual situation within the body. So here’s your desired discussion.

      Redox reactions happen in the body, obviously, but is ascorbic acid able to reduce these arsenic compounds even in lab conditions? Prove it with a journal reference first. Besides, it’s the conjugate acid of vitaminc C that can provide an electron pair. I can’t find any studies saying it can, esp. inside the body. Can it transfer those electrons in an environment of many other chemicals, including many oxidizing reagents (which by definition, are themselves reduced as they oxidise the other compound; the stronger the oxidizing agent, the more preferentially it is reduced itself i.e. even if As2O5 does exist, even if it can be reduced, there are other chemicals which will be reduced preferentially thus not reducing the arsenic compound) also while taken in the relatively small amounts found within a tablet? By the email’s argument, the presence of vitamin C would entail the strange consequence that drinking sufficient fruit juice would also precipitate a similar effect.

      There simply is no evidence that this reaction can happen at all in the body. (Krymore’s suggested equation for the reduction of arsenic pentoxide to arsenic trioxide can happen as a google search would attest – but crucially – the journal entry noting this also noted that the said process, the oxide desorption process, occurs at 400 degrees centigrade as well as involving the presence of harsher chemicals (pp.1834, IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ELECTRON DEVICES, VOL. 54, NO. 8, AUGUST 2007)). Just because you can balance such an equation doesn’t mean that it can actually occur in the stomach, where there are very strong oxidizing agents (again, chemistry literature shows as being far more easily reduced than arsenide compounds) which are preferentially reduced by any reductive action of ascorbic acid, even if it exists.

      There’s far too many crucial links that have to be proved, of which the email gives none, and isn’t found in scientific literature. You need to prove that 1) this can happen in the lab i.e. ideal conditions to make it work, 2) this can happen in the human body at all, 3) this can happen in the body at reasonable estimates of the quantities and conditions present in the body, 4) this has a toxic effect (i.e. it’s not re-oxidized by the strong oxidizing agents present, vs the relatively weak reductive acid of vitamin c’s conjugate) at all, 5) this has a toxic effect at the given quantities…the list goes on and on.

      You might still suggest to me that I haven’t ‘proved’ it wrong, but that’s another discussion about how to prove a negative – you can’t prove that something doesn’t exist, but I’ve suggested enough evidence to make the email’s claim seem incredibly implausible. There’s infinite things that don’t exist, and the onus is on the any person making such a ‘scientific’ claim to prove that it is true. Otherwise, what you’re asking me is to disprove something which hasn’t even been proved in the first place. Nonsense. This email hoax might be relatively benign, but variants can quite easily hurt people – such as the ethanol-cancer link.

      In writing this, I’ve forgotten to reply to something else Krymore claimed: ‘it does still happen’ – no it doesn’t. It doesn’t work like simply fractions. Chemical equilibria can be so for or against a particular reaction that the probability of one such reaction occurring for some human bodily reactions (iron-binding reactions), is 1 in 10^53, for example. So yes, it does happen, but for some reactions you’ll need to wait a few thousand years for it to occur just once, i.e. one molecule of it being produced, under normal/bodily conditions. Things in the body are often like that, funnily enough; otherwise species would be susceptible to be wiped out every time prawns spawn in large amounts. You’ve claimed that arsenic trioxide is produced – you haven’t proved it, even though you can balance an equation; see above – which immediately means that ‘no one would eat enough…’ is completely void of merit, as is your conclusion that it ‘does happen’.

      Simply playing down the magnitude of the problem you think exists, to reach the same conclusion as what the scientific literature might attest to i.e. ‘it doesn’t kill people’, shouldn’t fool anyone from the fact that the reasoning is still bad science. And it’s dangerous, when people who don’t know about these matters read your nonsense – on matters relating to more serious ailments, bad science affects life and death more than any shrimp-vitamin chemical cocktail

  7. But you do have to realize that most seafood, especially shrimps, actually have arsenic in their blood, though a very small amount of it. Furthermore, Vitamin C is an reducing agent, causes a change from arsenic pentoxide to arsenic trioxide – As2O5→As2O3+O2 (with the letter being poisonous. Though normally no one would eat enough shrimps or vitamin C to produce a large enough amount of arsenic trioxide to kill oneself, it does still happen.

    • You DO realize that our bodies contain arsenic as well. In fact it has been proven that low doses of arsenic are essential to life…. It is found in almost all of our foods and in our water.

  8. Yes Lady. All this is just another big unpleasant joke. You can continue to eat your shrimp with lemon juice as you always did before, they will never kill you (as long as you are not allergic)

  9. is that true that this email forwarding is just a trick to other people??

Leave a Reply to Gretchen Cancel reply