Adverse Effects Associated with Monosodium Glutamate Consumption: A Brief Review
Keywords:monosodium glutamate, adverse effects, monosodium glutamate symptom complex, Chinese restaurant syndrome
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a widely used flavour enhancer, first patented as a food additive in 1908. Although the compound has been recognized as safe for human consumption by regulatory bodies, there exist reports and a belief that consuming MSG can elicit a variety of symptoms, originally collectively referred to as “Chinese restaurant syndrome” due to MSG’s association with its frequent use in American-Chinese cuisine. In this work, the known biologic effects of glutamate, the active compound in MSG, are first briefly discussed, followed by a summary of existing literature on adverse effects of human consumption of MSG. Overall, based on the current state of evidence, it is argued in this work that although the constellation of symptoms now referred to as MSG symptom complex have not reliably been reproduced in controlled study environments and are thus often dismissed, some evidence exists that points to possible effects of MSG on human physiology, and gaps in the literature persist that warrant further study, such as better controlled studies involving MSG consumption with food.
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