Apricot kernels contain a compound called amygdalin, which is sometimes referred to as "B17." However, it's important to note that amygdalin is not officially recognized as a vitamin, and the use of the term "B17" is not scientifically accurate. Amygdalin is a controversial substance due to its potential conversion into cyanide in the body.
Apricot kernel extract or supplements that contain amygdalin are marketed as alternative cancer treatments, but they are not supported by scientific evidence. In fact, consuming high amounts of amygdalin can be dangerous and potentially toxic.
Amygdalin is a naturally occurring compound found in the seeds or pits of various fruits, including apricots, peaches, cherries, and bitter almonds. It is a glycoside, meaning it is a chemical compound made up of a sugar molecule (glucose) attached to another non-sugar molecule (in this case, a cyanogenic glycoside).
When consumed, amygdalin can be broken down in the body by an enzyme called beta-glucosidase. This breakdown releases several byproducts, including hydrogen cyanide. Hydrogen cyanide is a toxic substance that can interfere with cellular respiration, potentially leading to health complications.
Historically, amygdalin has gained attention due to claims that it has anticancer properties. However, scientific evidence does not support these claims, and the use of amygdalin as a cancer treatment is not recommended. The potential risks associated with amygdalin, including its conversion to cyanide, outweigh any unproven benefits.
It's important to note that the consumption of foods containing small amounts of amygdalin, such as apricot kernels, in moderation is generally considered safe for most individuals. However, consuming large amounts or using amygdalin supplements can be hazardous and should be avoided.