What is MSG?

MSG can be recognised in foods by its food additive code 621 (MSG) and other glutamate additives 622-625.
It is a flavour enhancer that is added to foods to improve taste. It is commercially produced  and is chemically known as monosodium L-glutamate, responsible for the meaty and savoury taste of some foods.
MSG is the stabilised and processed version of the naturally occurring glutamic acid which is found in meats, milk, cheese and some vegetables. MSG found nutrition labels is the ‘processed’ form.

Where might it be found?

Asian dishes, gelatin, hydrolysed vegetable protein, yeast extract, rice syrup.

Is it harmful?

It is very rapidly absorbed and acts differently to the naturally occurring glutamic acid found in meats and dairy products.
It may overexcite the brain, causing problems with neurological function, and appetite regulation.

Possible side affects and reactions to MSG include: numbness, tingling, headaches, nausea and abnormal heart beat in relation to its affect on the nervous system.

How can we educate ourselves here?

  • MSG is found in processed foods and as a rule we are looking at reducing/eliminating processed foods to achieve optimal health.
  • As well as MSG processed foods contain added sodium and sugar which can alter nervous system and digestive function, affect the liver and pancreas and cause possible electrolyte imbalances (sodium).
  • Glutamic Acid is found naturally in meats and dairy products and in moderation these foods form part of a healthy diet for Australians. Ensure the meat is sourced from if possible local organic farms with grass fed beef and lamb, free range pork chicken and eggs.
  • Look out for the numbers on food labels indication MSG including 621, and other glutamates 622-625.

Emily Bingham
EMpower Fitness and Nutrition
November 2015



Foodstandards.gov.au,. (2015). MSG in food. Retrieved 16 November 2015, from http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/msg/Pages/default.aspx
Mark’s Daily Apple,. (2008). Spar of the Day: Taking on MSG | Mark’s Daily Apple. Retrieved 16 November 2015, from http://www.marksdailyapple.com/monsodium-glutamate/#axzz3rXRUq8yn