Should I eat shrimp shells?

January 30, 2024 | 03:15 pm PT
I have read a lot of information about shrimp shells containing a high amount of calcium, so I always try to eat them. However, should I eat shrimp shells? (Hoang, 40, Hanoi)


Many people are unaware of whether shrimp shells contain more calcium than shrimp meat. A great number of people do not like shrimp shells but still try to eat them because they believe that the calcium is mainly concentrated in this part. Some parents even force their young children to eat shrimp shells in the hope that their children will grow taller due to the intake of more calcium.

A dish of cooked shrimp. Illustration photo by Freepik

A dish of cooked shrimp. Illustration photo by Freepik

Shrimp shells contain less calcium than commonly believed. Shrimp shells are primarily composed of chitin, a substance that makes up the shells of many animals and is often not easily digestible. This is one of the reasons why you should not eat shrimp shells if you have digestive issues, especially if you are ill. Consuming too many shrimp shells can cause discomfort, hinder nutrient absorption, and may pose a choking hazard in young children.

However, shrimp does contain a significant amount of calcium. This nutrient is mainly found in their meat, legs, and claws. The organic calcium in shrimp is beneficial for our bodies. Shrimp meat provides valuable calcium and is also high in vitamin D. Shrimp is also rich in magnesium and phosphorus, which are in a balanced ratio, enhancing the body’s absorption of calcium.

Therefore, it is generally best to eat only the meat of shrimp and avoid the shells.

Dr. Nguyen Duy Thinh

Former lecturer at Hanoi University of Science and Technology’s Institute of Biotechnology and Food Technology

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