A teenage girl from Macau suddenly died, with blood coming from her eyes, ear, mouth, nose, skin and tongue. After the authorities investigated, they claimed she died of food poisoning. Before she died, she ate a lot of shrimp, but so did the rest of her family and they didn’t die. It turns out that the problem was that she drank a liquid vitamin C supplement immediately after she ate the shrimp.
Basically, Shrimp contains an Arsenic Pentoxide (As2O5) and when she ate shrimp, she drankVitamin C at the same time. This caused a chemical reaction in her stomach. The Arsenic Pentoxide (As2O5) in the shrimp become Arsenic Trioxide (As2O3), which was very poisonous. Her heart, liver, kidneys, and blood vessels failed, and she died from massive blood loss.
Nearly all animals carry some form of arsenic in their systems, and seafood in particular is one of the primary food sources through which human beings ingest arsenic. When the prawns are ingested in combination with Vitamin C, something in the vitamin prompts the formation of a different arsenic compound which is highly toxic to humans.
A study conducted back in 1985 did report that ingesting a combination of arsenic-bearing shellfish with high doses of Vitamin C could produce a toxic form of arsenic as described above through the reduction of arsenic pentoxide to arsenic trioxide:
Eating shellfish and popping huge doses of Vitamin C could prove lethal, say University of Illinois researchers who have made a surprising discovery about the nature of arsenic poisoning. The researchers in the university’s animal sciences department in Champaign found that forms of arsenic usually considered harmless can become strongly poisonous through an interaction withVitamin C. The unexpected finding by Gail Czarnecki, David Baker, and John Garst concerns the way molecules of arsenic compounds are constructed. If atoms within the compounds share five electrons with neighboring atoms, they are said to be “pentavalent” and are fairly harmless. Several foods, especially shrimp and prawns, may contain high concentrations of such arsenic compounds. What the Illinois researchers found is that high doses of Vitamin C convert the pentavalent compounds into trivalent arsenic, a highly toxic poison. Cysteine, a chemical which is sometimes given as a treatment for heavy metal poisoning, also converts arsenic to the trivalent, highly toxic form.
So, be careful if you eat shrimp. Wait a few hours before you take Vitamin C. Don’t allow vitamin C and shrimp to occupy your stomach at the same time.