Have you heard of that scary “thing” lately? Not a ghost, not a monster… it’s MSG!!!
MSG stands for monosodium glutamate. Glutamates are naturally occurring amino acids, which are organic compounds that form proteins. Amino acids are essentially compounds which contain a basic amino(-NH2), an acidic carboxyl(-COOH) and an organic R group (or side chain). The molecular formula for MSG is C5H8NaNO4. However, most people know it as the tasty flavour enhancer found in many soups, condiments, American-Chinese restaurant dishes.
Glutamates are neurotransmitters in our brains, which help nerve cells transmit information from one another. Neurotransmitters either act as an excitatory, inhibitory or modulator transmitter, the type they are can depend on the receptor they bind to. MSG is an excitotoxin, which generates electrical signals to the receiving neurons.
This is why many people have a fear of the white powdery substance. People claim that the ingestion of MSG causes excessive glutamates, and therefore excessive stimulation amongst neurotransmitters. However, there has been no evidence that MSG overstimulates neuron receptors. In fact, the FDA considers MSG additions to be “generally recognized as safe”. Even without consuming processed foods, glutamates are present in food proteins. Glutamates can be found in tomatoes, cheese and mushrooms. Our bodies metabolize these natural foods that same as added MSG. An average adult consumes about 13 grams of glutamate from protein alone, and less than 1 gram of glutamate from MSG.
So, the next time you stress about the less than one gram of glutamate you’ve consumed from that MSG, just remember you’ve probably consumed 13 more grams without even knowing!