Allergy and Adverse Health Effects of Ajinomoto MSG Additive

What Is MSG ?

MSG, mono sodium glutamate or glutamate is the salt of the non essential amino acid, glutamic acid. It is used as a food additive, to enhance the perception of the taste of that food.

Glutamate is produced by the body naturally but the MSG found in stores is made by industrial processing which is unnatural and this unnaturally made MSG is the root cause of the adverse effects that we see when foods containing MSG are consumed.

msg
msg | Source

Ajinomoto MSG

Ajinomoto is a Japanese brand of MSG. Many people around the world call MSG by this brand name.

MSG has been touted as a natural flavor by the food industry. FDA definition of natural flavors and natural flavoring allows for the substance (the one to be used as a flavoring agent) to be derived from a plant or animal.

So, in effect, even if you are buying organic vegetarian or vegan food that has natural flavoring, you could be taking in extracts of an animal that has been given growth hormones, fed pesticide treated grain and corn or given antibiotics to treat infections it might have had.

MSG, or glutamate, activates Tresk, the gene responsible for causing migraine. Also, according to The Journal Of The American Medical Association, MSG is a known migraine trigger. Since there is a long list of health conditions that can be caused by MSG, it has been given aliases to mislead those who are looking for mono sodium glutamate to be listed as such on the labels. Such aliases include autolysed yeast, yeast extract, maltodextrin, hydrolysed protein, sodium caseinate, textured protein and so on. There are more than 25 names for MSG most of us are not familiar with.

What Do Those in Favor of MSG Say ?

Proponents of MSG state that it is safe. The reasons they give are :

  • Glutamate occurs naturally in almost all foods and more so in high protein foods like dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, poultry and many vegetables like tomatoes and mushrooms.
  • The human body also produces glutamate.
  • The human breast milk contains 10 times the amount found in cow's milk.
  • The body makes about 50 grams of free glutamate. The average person consumes about 10 grams of bound glutamate and 1 gram of free glutamate daily.

MSG crystals
MSG crystals | Source

How Is MSG Made?

MSG is made by :

  • Hydrolysing vegetable protein like gluten or protein in sugarbeet.
  • Fermenting sugar from starchy foods.
  • By direct chemical synthesis with acrylonitrile.

Glutamic acid is found in 2 forms :

  • L-glutamic acid & D-glutamic acid.

L-glutamic acid in proteins is always found bound in long chains to other amino acids naturally in foods. Amino acids do not occur free naturally in foods.

D-glutamic acid is free glutamic acid, not bound, and is produced outside the body, artificially and chemically.

When protein containing foods are consumed, the body hydrolyses the food and the protein. It uses the amount of glutamic acid needed and the excess is removed. Since the process of digestion is a long one that takes time, the glutamic acid intake & levels are maintained at a lower concentrations in the blood. The excess is removed from the body.

When foods containing free glutamic acid or MSG are eaten, there is no need for the body to break this already free glutamic acid. It is there ready and waiting to be absorbed right away. This immediate absorption of MSG raises the glutamate levels in blood 8 to 10 times and this is what causes toxic reactions - the so called adverse effects.

Why Is MSG Used ?

These are some reasons MSG is used in foods :

  • MSG is cheap. By adding MSG to inferior quality foods the flavor perception is enhanced leading one to falsely believe that food to be superior in quality. Its use also lowers production costs and increases profits.
  • The pancreas are stimulated by MSG. This causes release of insulin even when there is no carbohydrates to act upon. The excess insulin causes a drop in blood sugar making one hungry and leads to overeating and obesity.( Profits again for the processed food makers).
  • Glutamate or MSG is converted to GABA by the body. GABA is tranquilizing in action much like valium.
  • MSG is addictive. It causes craving for those foods containing it. It has also been called the Nicotine of foods. Craving leads to more consumption and more profits for the manufacturers of processed foods.

burger & fries
burger & fries | Source

How MSG or Glutamate Acts

Glutamate is a neurotransmitter meaning it carries nerve impulses all over the body. It stimulates the nerve cells to fire. So it is an excitatory neurotransmitter.
Others like Taurine do the opposite that is cause the nerve cells to cease firing.

A very delicate balance exists between these neurotransmitters and it is very vital that this balance is maintained to ensure a healthy body.

For example, in people who have suffer a stroke, excess glutamate causes over stimulation of the nerve cells leading to their death. Glutamate blocking drugs are used to stop this damage.

Normally, the excess amino acids in the body are converted to other amino acids by removing nitrogen and changing amino acids into fuel that is stored. This process takes place in the liver. But in persons whose liver is not 100% healthy this process of deamination and transamination is hampered leading to upsetting the balance of the neurotransmitters. This can lead to health problems especially when those amino acids, that are converted to amino acids that act as counter to glutamate, cannot be converted as such by the liver. This leads to excess glutamate levels in the body and adverse consequences on health.

Is MSG Bad for You ?

MSG is commomly added to not only Chinese foods but also to soups, processed meats and vegetables. Though MSG has been used for over a century there have been reports of adverse reactions with foods containing MSG.

The immediate & common symptoms include :

  • Headache, flushing, sweating.
  • Tightness or pressure on the face.
  • Numbness, tingling or burning on the face or neck.
  • Chest pains, Heart palpitations.
  • Nausea & weakness.

noodles taste yummy with msg
noodles taste yummy with msg | Source

Some Possible Side Effects of MSG

MSG is not only addictive but consuming MSG may have far-reaching health complications over a period of time. Some of them are:

  • High blood pressure, autism, hormonal imbalance, epilepsy, food allergies, asthma, reduction in bile formation, cancer, possible sterility in females - in studies it has caused female sterility in animals, ringing in ears, irregular or fast heart hear beat and heart attacks, worsen low blood sugar situation in those whose BP keeps low normally, thyroid dysfunction, obesity, type 2 diabetes, damage to the retina of the eyes.

What International & National Regulatory Bodies Say

The Global Standard for food processing is the Codex Alimentarius. The Codex Alimentarius is put out by FAO/WHO and is the current standard for processed food worldwide.

As per the Codex Alimentarius guidelines, the addition of MSG should be as per GMP only in certain categories of food as prescribed by Codex.

As per the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) guidelines, MSG is not permitted in more than 50 food products including pastas and noodles (dried products).

The question is which foods to avoid ? The list of these foods is overwhelming. Suffice it to say here that first and foremost avoid Fast Food outlets. They are the worst offenders with regards to MSG use.

FDA Regulations on MSG Use

FDA does not require that the source of MSG be disclosed to the consumer. Also the FDA has set no limits on how much or MSG is to be added to food.


Safe Alternatives to MSG

Though the FDA has classified MSG as "safe for general use" it is not so. However this is controversial as most processed foods have MSG in them and because of the cumulative effect the level of MSG in the blood becomes dangerous.

Here are ways you can make food safe to eat and stay away from adding MSG to enhance the palatability or flavor of the food you eat.

Tomatoes, soy, herbs, spices, even caramelizing mushrooms till brown will all intensify the flavor of the food and hence make it tastier & more palatable.

Use these and stay away from the dangerous MSG.


Has this article made you think about controlling your processed food intake?

See results without voting

Disclaimer

The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or following the information provided here.

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Comments 58 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great information my friend; this is nasty stuff and you have done well to expose the dangers.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

Very informative Hub. It's unbelievable what they don't tell us about what we eat. Thanks for making us all aware. Voted up and away!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Bill, its always been my effort to make people aware of the good and bad of things we consume. I'm glad you like this since we are on increasing consumption spree of all things processed. Hope this write makes readers pause for a moment and think of the effects of what we eat.

Thanks for the support. Much appreciated.


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Rajan,

Wow! This is very informative, thanks for sharing buddy! I enjoy these food hubs, because I always learn something I can take away!


supermom_in_ny profile image

supermom_in_ny 4 years ago from NY

This is an excellent article! My son, daughter and I are allergic to MSG. It gives me severe migraines that last up to 48 hours. My son can no longer eat the school lunch because it makes him vomit for about 12 hours after consumption. Most of the school lunch is frozen and contains MSG, so I send him lunch instead. For years I suffered from migraines not knowing why. Then one day I read a hub here about MSG allergies. I decided to keep a food journal and read all the labels of foods I ate. That's when I discovered that the MSG triggered the migraines. By the way, my youngest son is autistic. Voted up, useful and interesting! ;)


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Suzie. This hub was to make readers aware of the many dangers of processed foods, addition of MSG is one.

Thanks for reading, appreciating and voting.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Josh. I'm glad to provide info that is useful. Thanks reading and sharing your views.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Supermom, sorry to learn about the MSG effects on you and your kids. Thanks, too, for this feedback which will underline the importance of avoiding MSG added foods for the sake of health. The effects of MSG consumption are too far reaching.

Thank you again for reading and giving so many votes. Much appreciated.


JCielo profile image

JCielo 4 years ago from England

Very informative article on this pervasive additive.

Just another example of not assuming that our government and its health institutions will necessarily look after our interests, although that's what we pay them to do.

We ought to take responsibility for our own health and take the time to find out all that we can about lifestyle and other issues that can harm us. An important element in that is our diet, one aspect of which you have covered superbly once again.

Voted up, etc.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi John. Very well said. Its up to us to see that what we put in our body is healthy. This is my humble effort to spread awareness in this direction.

I'm really happy to see you here. Many thanks for visiting and appreciating.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

There is one way to never eat MSG and that is to eat only fresh foods..in a perfect world of course. Great and informative hub. We live in a hurry world...And the big thing is that restaurants make food to taste good, even fancy and expensive restaurants. Can you really be sure anywher you eat that MSG won't be present. Great HUB..Voted UP.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

I fully agree with you Carol. The way to go is stop eating outside food and eat only fresh and unprocessed food. It's tough but that's the only way to go.

Thanks for the read & thumbs up.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

Very informative hub, rajan. I try to steer clear of MSG, but I never knew the dangers. Thanx for the education!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks for reading and sharing your views bravewarrior. Much appreciated.


tsarnaudova profile image

tsarnaudova 4 years ago from Sofia, Bulgaria

Very important information here, Rajan. MSG is dangerous; but it's really everywhere, and is very difficult to avoid it when you're on a vacation and have to eat outside for instance.

Thank you for this hub, voted up.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Another good reason to cook at home! lol. This is especially serious in laxer countries that do not advise the public of what is in the food they buy. This makes it almost impossible to avoid, unless you cook from fresh products at home.

Shared, up and useful.


daskittlez69 profile image

daskittlez69 4 years ago from midwest

MSG actually burns the inside of my mouth. The 1st time I can remember experiencing it was at a Chinese restaurant on the West Coast. Thanks for the Hub!


rasta1 profile image

rasta1 4 years ago from Jamaica

MSG is very popular in children snacks. It is sad that it is not monitored.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

tsarnaudova, indeed if you're away from home it is difficult to avoid eating outside but you could always ask to have a dish which does not have MSG added.

Thanks for the read.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Brett. I agree it is difficult but maybe not impossible if one looks out for options.

Thanks for reading and sharing.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

daskittlez & rasta, thanks for sharing your experience and point of view. Appreciate your visit.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada

This is an excellent, thorough hub. I am definitely sharing this because I have many friends that are interested in health. I knew that MSG was bad for you but your article gave me details that I was not aware of. Have a wonderful evening. Voted up and more!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi prairieprincess. Thanks for reading and sharing this information. Much appreciated.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Fortunately, MSG has become a big concern here in Southern California, so restaurants and prepared foods are careful to state whether they have this substance or not. Voting this Up and Useful.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Very interesting, rajan. You say "yeast extract" is another name for MSG? Does that mean my beloved Marmite is almost pure MSG? Oh no.


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

this is a nasty chemical,w hich unfortunately is found in most restaurants.

awareness can lead to avoidance. great hub.

many votes and interesting button!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Alocsin, yes it is of concern here too. In fact there's a warning printed on each pack of food that contains MSG that it should not be consumed by children under 2 years of age.

Thanks for your input and votes.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

UnnamedHarald, well! we do not get Marmite in my country so I guess I will not be able to say for sure but if you check the ingredients and find MSG by any of its 'aliases', I bet its pretty harmful.

Appreciate your stopping by and comments.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Ruchira, I'm glad you are aware of the potential consequences of MSG consumption.

Many thanks for your votes and input. Nice to see you.


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Hello Rajan,

What a fascinating read. I knew somehow that MSG was bad, but your hub has filled in all the blanks.

This hub is well researched, very detailed and a comprehensive look at the dangers of Mono sodium glutamate.

I thought that this substance had been banned many years ago.

I am shocked and appalled that it is still widely used.

It also explains why I and everyone else, are still hungry an hour after eating Chinese food.

Voted up and sharing plus 4/5 buttons.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Hi Michael.

I'm glad to note that friends like you have overwhelmed me by their response to this hub.

Thanks so much for your wonderful comments and appreciative words.

Thanks also for sparing time to read and share your views. Appreciate the votes & hub sharing.


Sueswan 4 years ago

"FDA does not require that the source of MSG be disclosed to the consumer. Also the FDA has set no limits on how much or MSG is to be added to food. Read FDA regulations at this link."

Disgusting if you ask me. They clearly don't care about our health.

I have a favourite Chinese Buffet that I go to that doesn't use MSG in their food.

Voted up and away

Sharing

Take care :)


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

It is indeed a sad state of affairs, Susan. Nice to know you have found a restaurant that is an exception. We need more of these. I only hope more awareness is created about the far reaching consequences of using MSG.

Thanks for sharing this information and also for taking out time to read and comment.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

rajan....HELP!! I am overwhelmed by the facts in your informative hub. Goodness, what are we putting into our bodies? So FEW people have this knowledge and remain unaware. In fact, what made me think that the use of MSG had been significantly decreased? It seems I must have read some information on MSG that helped to allay some of the fears and apprehension of this substance.

I am confused and quite disgusted that MSG is used so widely, without the single concern for the health and well-being of the consumer. I am aware there is much more in our foods and beverages that require exposure as well.

Rajan...What is left for us to eat without causing us dangers and concerns? I am beginning to fully appreciate the mind set of the Vegan.......then again, it would matter HOW his/her vegetables were grown and where!

How do we really get a handle on this in our own personal lives? I read and saved the exhaustive LIST of FOODS to avoid! All I can say is........REALLY??!! Good Grief! Wonderful HUB UP++& shared


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Paula, commercialization has creeped in our very being it seems. Food, health and medical treatment has become big business. Our conscience pricks us no more. A very sad state of affairs this, with no solution in sight because we are all dependent on what is dished out to us.

The only way out is probably to make ourselves more aware of the good and the bad and try to eat more of natural foods, preferably growing some that can be grown at home.

Thanks for stopping by and appreciate your input.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Sad, indeed......more than sad, actually, it should be CRIMINAL, rajan. Isn't this closely related to mass murder, the slow way?


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Absolutely, Paula. But when the guardians have become robbers who is going to police them?

I hope better sense prevails!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

You have written an excellent hub that has stirred the masses. Like Paula, I thought MSG use was either gone or very little in ethnic foods. Boy, was I wrong! You have provided us with a weapon in the food battle, knowledge about MSG. Great job Rajan.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

tillsontitan, glad this info has stirred readers into thinking about the content in processed foods. Bringing awareness was my aim and I'm happy to see a positive reaction.

Thanks for all the appreciation.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

It is sad that food producers have actually disguised the MSG by calling it by different names. I did not realize that! Reading your hubs about food are enlightening to say the least. We do a lot of cooking from scratch but you have given us reason to do even more. It is sad that so many people rely upon fast food enterprises these days to feed their families. They do not realize the harm that they are inflicting for long term health considerations. Up votes and definitely sharing!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Thanks very much for this look at MSG. Some of what you've provided here is new info to me. Though I avoid MSG if at all possible, I still have family and friends who do not understand the consequences of using it, especially in large amounts or long term so I'm always glad to learn more about its adverse effects on health.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@ Peggy - It is disgusting what these companies can do for making money. No one, not even the government, is concerned about the health of its citizens when health should be high on the list of priorities.

I'm glad you appreciate this work, Peggy. Thanks for sparing time to read and leave comments and of course the sharing to make more people aware of the pitfalls of MSG. Thank you.

@ RTalloni - MSG is being used by naming it differently on the labels which most of us are not aware of. When we don't it listed as such we take the product as safe. However, it is the most common dangerous ingredient used to make profits for the big companies putting the health of the masses at risk.

Thanks for coming by and I appreciate the read.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City

Well-written hub with a wealth of useful information. Maybe you've addressed it, but I missed reading it...is the chemically produced MSG an oxidizing factor in the body?

Appreciate the research and diligence that went into providing this information on MSG.

Voted up and Shared.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

L.L.Woodard, yes, it is the chemically produced MSG that is the culprit. Always appreciate your visit and thanks for sharing. Have a nice day.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I remeber the early days of television. there were commercials pushing MSG. It sounded like a miracle drug. after awhile they were questions about whether it was good for us and I have not heard much about it since. voted and shared your hub.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks, dahoglund. I'm glad you know now MSG is a slow poison that we are being forced to consume by way of masking its inclusion by giving it other names.

Thanks for the read and share.


livingsta profile image

livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Thank you for this hub Rajan, I today took an MSG packet off the supermarket shelf and left it back because something inside me just told me that it is not right!

Sharing this hub, voted up and useful


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

You did the wise thing to do, livingsta. Foods with added MSG might be better on taste but are lethal to our body. It is a slow poison.

Thanks for coming by to read and thanks for sharing.


tattuwurn 4 years ago

Dang, 6 years ago I had migraines that went on for two months. MSG was the culprit.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

tattuwurn, glad you caught the culprit soon. MSG is behind a lot of our health problems but most of the people do not realize it as its use in processed foods is under other names.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

Again a great hub with lots of informations. I keep on avoiding MSG but some of my friends are still using it. Even in my house, it is secretly used by some members of the family who cooked our meals although I told them not to and how dangerous it is to our health. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and SHARED in FB.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thelma, I'm glad you appreciate this info. MSG is a slow poison and is harmful in the long run. Some people though an instant reaction to it though. In any case it should be avoided at all cost.

Thanks for reading and sharing your views. Much appreciated.,


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

Thanks for all the information about this toxic poison. I get migraines, so I try to avoid MSG. But, I found you don't always know which foods might have MSG so you really have to pay close attention.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

You are right, truthfornow. MSG is added by so many alter names that it becomes difficult knowing it's added unless one is very particular to check for it. Thanks for stopping by and glad you appreciate the info.


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 3 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Its true.. MSG is a slow poison. thanks for tackling the subject rajan


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks for reading, unknown spy!


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 17 months ago from Home Sweet Home

Msg is getting less now since we kniw the disadvantages


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 17 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

You are correct peachpurple but msg usually comes garbed in so many other names that many of us are not aware of.

Thanks for stopping by.

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