Monosodium glutamate is a sodium salt of glutamic acid. MSG enhances flavor, particularly the savory, umami taste. MSG provides glutamate that is identical to the free glutamate found in savory, umami-tasting foods. Glutamate and glutamic acid occur naturally in virtually all foods.

Health considerations

A series of anecdotal reports associate MSG consumption with symptoms such as headache, heart palpitations, numbness, and weakness. Though these symptoms are not seen in formal studies where MSG is provided at a reasonable level. Food Standards Australia New Zealand indicates that less than 1% of the population may truly briefly experience symptoms such as headache and muscle tightness upon consuming a large amount of MSG in one sitting.

Keep in mind

Formal studies have shown no negative effects of MSG; participants who described negative effects were self-reported sensitive individuals who were in fact receiving a placebo. Individuals who consider themselves MSG-sensitive, however, should take note of foods and ingredients with high levels of glutamate. See: Glutamic acid

May be found in

Seasoning packets, spice blends, sauces, processed meats, prepared meals


Food Standards
Food Standards
Chemical Senses
The Journal of Nutrition
Ian Mosby

Aternative Spellings and Names

MSG, Sodium glutamate

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