Myths about MSG

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Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer that has been used for over a century. Despite its widespread use, there are several myths about MSG that have been perpetuated over the years. Here are some of the most common ones:
  1. MSG causes headaches or migraines: This is a common myth, but extensive scientific research has shown that MSG does not trigger headaches or migraines. The FDA has investigated claims linking MSG to headaches and nausea but has never been able to confirm that MSG caused the reported effects12.
  2. MSG is not natural: MSG is a purified form of naturally occurring glutamate. Sodium is added to make it more stable. The glutamate found in MSG used to be extracted from seaweed, but is now usually derived by fermenting sugar cane or corn. Fermentation is a natural process that has been used to make various foods for thousands of years3.
  3. MSG cannot be processed by our bodies: Glutamate, a component of MSG, is not only processed by our bodies, but it’s also produced by our bodies. When we eat MSG, it is broken down in our gastrointestinal tract into sodium and glutamate, the same way other foods that contain sodium and glutamate are3.
  4. MSG is only found in Asian foods: While Asian cultures may be known for their use of MSG, all cultures have been maximizing umami flavor for eons. MSG is naturally occurring in many popular foods, ranging from cheese and meat to fermented sauces and some produce23.
  5. MSG is an allergen: MSG is not an allergen and will not cause allergies. Decades of research have failed to demonstrate that MSG causes allergic reactions2.
  6. MSG causes obesity: Some research shows that higher MSG intake is related to a higher body mass index (BMI) over time. However, studies on the topic show conflicting results, so right now, there’s no certain proof of how MSG and obesity are linked5.
  7. MSG is unhealthy: MSG is a naturally occurring substance that is safe to eat, found naturally in many foods already and can be used as a seasoning to elevate the flavor of food. The safety of MSG has been studied extensively by several organizations. It is FDA-approved and safe for all people including children and pregnant people4.
In conclusion, the myths surrounding MSG are not aligned with the scientific consensus. MSG is safe to consume and is naturally occurring in many foods. If you believe you are sensitive to MSG, it is recommended to undergo appropriate clinical testing2345.
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