As noted by this Tumblr post, self-labelled Super Foods retailer Sun Foods is selling
apricot cyanide kernels (apparently they can also be found at Whole Foods) claiming wonderful health benefits; however, the warning listed on both the website and the bag itself is cause for concern:
WARNING: Sweet apricot kernels contain amygdalin (Vitamin B17) which can cause symptoms of cyanide poisoning when eaten in excess. DO NOT EAT MORE THAN 8 SEEDS PER DAY. See a doctor immediately if you experience symptoms like nausea, fever, headache, or low blood pressure. Do not eat if you are pregnant or nursing. Not intended for children.
Yes, folks, the warning does indeed say “symptoms of cyanide poisoning”. I recommend reading the hilarious Tumblr post breaking down why recommending and selling apricot kernels is so absurd. Just a taste:
Amygdalin is not, in fact, particularly rare; as the wiki page states, it’s found in “many plants” “particularly the Prunus genus, Poaceae (grasses), Fabaceae (legumes), and in other food plants, including linseed and manioc.” The only people who refer to amygdalin as a vitamin are those trying to make money from it. It is absolutely NOT a vitamin in any way, shape, or form. The definition of the word “vitamin” is “a compound which is required by the body in small amounts, which it cannot make on its own and thus must be obtained from the diet.” Your body does not *require* amygdalin in the least. In fact, if you consume too much of it, you will LITERALLY DIE OF CYANIDE POISONING. It is NOT an “important nutrient.” It has not “disappeared from Western diets” because it was never a part of any culture’s diet. Any group of people who ate too much of it probably died.
I verified that the Wikipedia quotes by the poster were accurate and performed an independent search of Google Scholar for amygdalin to validate the Wikipedia content. Multiple papers come up within the first page of search results showing that amygdalin (vitamin B17) does, in fact, break down to cyanide in the human digestive system.
The lesson here: if it causes symptoms of cyanide poisoning, it probably is cyanide poisoning and you should stop eating whatever it is you’re eating. Also, don’t forget to read warning labels.