Back to Africa Check

No, vitamin C and shrimps eaten together don’t cause ‘death by arsenic poisoning’

Eating prawns or shrimps together with vitamin C can cause death by “arsenic poisoning”, claims a message circulating on social media.

It popped up on Africa Check Nigeria’s Whatsapp group page, which we created with Nigerian media partners to track false information about health.

It also appears on Facebook.

The message claims a woman died suddenly “with signs of bleeding from her ears, nose, mouth and eyes” and that an autopsy revealed that her death was caused by arsenic poisoning. 

It says: “The deceased used to take vitamin C every day, 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 likewise, that's why nothing happened to her family even though they had the same shrimp/prawn eaten. However, at the same time, the deceased also took Vitamin C, that is where the problem was!”

Could you die from eating shrimp or prawns if you also take vitamin C supplements? We investigated.

‘Vitamin C and shrimps are healthy’

Africa Check spoke to Prof Vincent Idemyor, a professor of clinical pharmacology in the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Port Harcourt in southern Nigeria.

Idemyor explained that “arsenic poisoning occurs when one has a high level of arsenic in the blood”. But arsenic is a “naturally occurring element that is widely distributed in the earth’s crust.” 

Idemyor said there are traces of arsenic in the food we eat, the air we breathe and even water, “meaning arsenic is part of us”.

He added: “Vitamin C and shrimps are healthy meals. The combination is not harmful. This can only happen if the seafood contains poison.” If the shrimp or prawns are “not contaminated”, it’s perfectly safe to eat them eating them while taking vitamin C. – Jennifer Ojugbeli


Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.