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MSG- UNDERSTANDING THE MYTHS VS. THE FACTS

Awareness of the potential risks and side effects of exposure to MSG can help you decide whether you want to take your chances and ingest this risky chemical.

MSG is a flavor enhancer that has been used effectively for nearly a century to bring out the best flavor of foods. Its principal component is an amino acid called glutamic acid or glutamate. Glutamate is found naturally in protein-containing foods such as meat, vegetables, poultry and milk. The human body also produces glutamate naturally in large amounts. The muscles, brain and other body organs contain about four pounds of glutamate, and human milk is rich in glutamate.

Glutamate is found in two forms: "bound" glutamate (linked to other amino acids forming a protein molecule) and "free" glutamate (not linked to protein). Only free glutamate is effective in enhancing the flavor of food. Foods often used for their flavoring qualities, such as tomatoes and mushrooms, have high levels of naturally occurring free glutamate.   Glutamate is an important element in the natural ripening process, which is why it yields such flavorful tastes.

More than 1,200 years ago, Oriental cooks discovered that some foods tasted better when prepared with a soup stock made from the seaweed Laminaria Japonica . It was not until 1908 that Professor Kikunae Ikeda of The University of Tokyo isolated glutamate from the seaweed and unlocked the secret of its flavor-enhancing properties. Since that time, MSG has been, and continues to be, widely used as an effective means of making good food taste better.

Although the FDA recognized MSG as a "generally safe additive" in 1959, conflicting reports about it's side effects and risks have increased since this approval.   Some of these side effects include asthmatic response, seizures, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, autism, and even several brain disorders.   Birth defects were also prevalent to mothers who ingested large amounts of MSG.

Since the FDA does not set a limit on how much can be added to food, there is definitely cause for concern when ingesting foods that contain this substance.   As with any additive, it is important to understand what foods contain MSG, so you can take the proper steps to limit and reduce your exposure to this potentially harmful chemical.   To learn how food manufacturers "hide" MSG, here is a link to some commonly used names for the additive

To get further information about the myths and facts about MSG, check out these links:

http://www.msgfacts.com/facts/msgfacts.html

http://www.msgtruth.org/

http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/msg.html