14 Sep 2020

MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG)

  • WHAT IS MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a sodium salt of Glutamic acid naturally found in a minimal quantity in some foods like tomatoes, cheese, etc. Monosodium glutamate is routinely added to many foodstuffs (E.g. Sauces, Packed food, frozen food, etc.) as a flavour enhancer. It is commonly present as an additive in Chinese food and sauces.

  • PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL PROPERTIES:
  1. It is a white crystalline solid at room temperature
  2. Odourless
  3. Highly soluble in water
  4. pH is between 6.7- 7.2
  5. Insoluble in an organic solvent
  6. Stable at high temperature
  7. Non-hygroscopic
  8. Produced currently by bacterial fermentation
  9. Denoted by Number E-621
  10. HS code- 29224220
  • EXAMPLES OF THE FOODSTUFFS HAVING ADDED MSG (MONOSODIUM) GLUTAMATE

Monosodium glutamate is used as a food additive and flavour enhancer, which imparts an Umami Flavour (Strong/meaty flavour) to the food. It is routinely added in the Chinese food preparations. It is also added to many ready to eat food preparations such as many sauces, Packed foods, soups, etc.

The examples of food having added Monosodium Glutamate:

  1. Chips (Potato chips, corn chips, etc.)
  2. Snack food (Snack mixes, crackers, nachos, etc.)
  3. soups (Chinese soups, Canned soups)
  4. Instant noodles
  5. Cheese
  6. Pasta (Instant pasta)
  7. seasoning salt
  8. salad dressings
  9. gravy mixes.
  10. Fast food (Pizza, Burger, French fries, etc.)
  11. Any Chinese food
  12. Sauces (Ketchup, soy sauce, barbeque sauce)
  13. Mayonnaise
  14. Condiments
  15. Frozen meals
  16. Seasoning blends
  17. Processed meat (Hot dogs, sausages, pepperoni, etc.)

  • IS EATING MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE SAFE? WHAT ARE THE HEALTH PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH IT?

Monosodium glutamate consumption in a high quantity for a longer time increases the levels glutamate in our body. Though glutamate/glutamic acid is a necessary amino acid for the human body, higher levels of it can be harmful. Increased levels of glutamate, develop certain metabolic imbalances in our body, such as:

  • Excessive and prolonged stimulation of nerve cells and tissues in the brain and at the periphery.
  • Generation of a high amount of reactive oxygen species (free radicals). It gives rise to excessive oxidative stress.
  • Development of excessive inflammation within the body
  • Development of Insulin and leptin resistance
  • Overstimulation of the immune system.

All these metabolic imbalances that are developed within our body can lead to many health issues, as mentioned below:

  1. Chinese Food Syndrome

It is a symptoms complex people experience after eating Chinese food (MSG is a routinely used additive) It manifests with the following symptoms: Flushing, weakness, dizziness, anxiety, palpitations, numbness, burning pain over back and neck, brain fog, memory impairment, etc.

  1. Frequent headaches and Migraine
  2. Obesity
  3. Metabolic Syndrome
  4. Increased risk of type-2 Diabetes
  5. Male and female infertility
  6. Impairment of liver function
  7. Stomach irritation and cramps
  8. Inflammation and damage to the Kidneys
  9. Worsening of Asthma
  10. Allergic reactions
  11. Insomnia
  12. Increased risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  13. Increased risk of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
  14. Fibromyalgia (Widespread aches and pain).
  15. Memory dysfunction
  16. Hypertension
  17. Palpitations and Irregular Heart Beats
  18. Increased risk of Cancers
  19. Visual impairment (Continuous consumption over a long period)

  • HOW TO AVOID EXCESS CONSUMPTION OF MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE?
  1. Reduce the consumption of Chinese food. If possible, always request for no added MSG while ordering the Chinese food.
  2. Avoid frequent eating of outside food; instead, eat home-cooked food.
  3. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
  4. Eat freshly cooked food (Vegetarian or Non-vegetarian).
  5. If possible, try to avoid or at least minimise the consumption of processed food, packaged food or frozen food.
  6. Reduce the quantity of Sauces, condiments, mayonnaise, margarine, etc. in a regular diet.
  7. Prepare sauces, chutney, butter at home.
  8. Always check the ingredients label before buying any packaged food for the presence of MSG.

PLEASE NOTE:

Monosodium glutamate can be mentioned under different names in the ingredients list. It is essential to know these names if we have to avoid its consumption.

THE FOLLOWING ARE ALTERNATIVE NAMES FOR MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE:

  1. Monosodium glutamate or sodium glutamate
  2. Sodium 2-aminopentanedioate
  3. Glutamic acid monosodium salt monohydrate
  4. L-Glutamic acid monosodium salt monohydrate
  5. L-Monosodium glutamate monohydrate
  6. Monosodium L-glutamate monohydrate
  7. MSG monohydrate
  8. Sodium glutamate monohydrate
  9. UNII-W81N5U6R6U
  10. Flavour enhancer E621

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5938543/
  3. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2017.1295260
  4. https://irispublishers.com/gjnfs/fulltext/toxicological-effect-of-monosodium-glutamate-in-seasonings-on-human-health.ID.000522.php
  5. https://atchayapathrafoods.com/harmful-effects-ajinomoto/
  6. https://migraine.com/blog/msg-untangling-this-hidden-migraine-trigger/
  7. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1743-7075-9-50
  8. https://jbiomedsci.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12929-015-0192-5
  9. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7289280_Monosodium_glutamate-induced_damage_in_liver_and_kidney_A_morphological_and_biochemical_approach
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31658055/
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332218372718

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