E621: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, Ve-stin, or E621 is a flavour-enhancing agent,  used in many kinds of food products to enhance their original flavour. Proteins. The main aim of this report is to give accurate knowledge about MSG by scrutinizing its scientific literature.

One can find a plethora of altercations surrounding MSG in natural health. On the other side, most officials like the FDA claim that MSG is safe. Hence this article scrutinizes MSG and its health effects, dissecting both sides of arguments.

What is Monosodium Glutamate (E621)?

MSG- E621 is the short form of Monosodium glutamate. A typical food flavor enhancer with the e-number E621- used to boost the flavor. It is gleaned from the amino acids or Glumatic acid, a rare amino acid in nature.

Chemically, MSG E621 is a white crystalline powder that resembles table salt or sugars, a combination of sodium and Glumatic acid, known as a sodium salt. This enhancer is popular in Asian cooking and used in various processed foods in the west.

There are two forms of glutamate one “free,” not bound to protein, or bound to other amino acids as part of proteins. The free glutamate is the one that tastes umami and plays a role in the delectable of foods. It enhances the natural flavour of many foods, and in most effective when used with savoury foods.

Origin of Mono Sodium Glutamate (E621)

To begin with, the answer to the existence of MSN Mono Sodium Glutamate, chemical name Monosodium L-Glutamate Monohydrate also called E621. To know about this flavor-enhancing agent, we need to go back to Japan a century back.

Umami seasoning (component monosodium L-glutamate) universally known as the flavor enhancer in many houses in Japan, was discovered by later prof. Kikunae Ikeda, professor at the Department of Chemistry of Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo).

While professor Ikeda was researching various themes related to basic chemistry, he was keen on practical research. Since childhood, Kyoto-born professor was interested in seaweed broth. To find out the components of broth, he started research on the seaweed broth, which is used for the dish yudofu (boiled tofu).

Starting with a tremendous quantity of kelp soup stock Ikeda succeeded in extracting crystals of glutamic acid, a building block of proteins. 100 gram of kelp contains 1gm of glutamate and the real identity of Umami. The discovery turned the professor’s ‘Eureka!’ movement.  Kombu led him to the development that will make his fortune change and change the nature of 20th-century food.

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Hence his next step was to find a matrix of tongue whereabouts of different nerve in a tongue that identifies the four accepted primary tastes-sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Still, Ikeda was missing something in the matrix, and at last, he could find out a taste that is common to asparagus, tomatoes, cheese, and meat but not among the four known taste. Later he coined the term ‘umami’ (Ajinomoto) for the fifth taste.

One year later. Mr Saburosoke Suzuki launched a business venture and with Ikeda’s and went on to markets the seasoning of “umami.”

Accordingly, Japan’s patent office selected Dr.Ikeda among one of the ten greatest inventors for his discovery on the production of the umami seasoning. Therefore commercializing his innovation in the market is regarded as one of the most significant collaborations between industry and academia in the Meiji era. Consequently, MSG E621 was launched on the Japanese market as brand name AJI-NO-MOTO.

Today, AJI-NO-MOTO (MSG) is no longer extracted and crystallized from kelp broth. Instead, the fermentation process is being followed by fermenting natural ingredients such as sugar beets, sugar cane, cassava, or molasses.

How has Monosodium produced naturally and the production industry?

Today instead of extracting and crystallizing MSG from seaweed broth, MSG E621 is produced from the fermentation of natural products like starch, sugarcane sugar beets, or molasses. Hence the MSG is made by the natural method known as the fermentation process. The same technique used to make wine, beer, vinegar, and yogurt is made. Like microorganisms transform natural ingredients and prolong their usefulness.

The industry

A China-based company Fufeng Group is the largest producer of MSG. Then comes Meihua, the second-largest producer, other companies like Jiali Internation Corporation and Shangai Tuo Dong International Trading Co, Ltd are the ones to incite. As per estimation, 1.7million of L-Glutamate produced annually.

Why do people think it’s detrimental?

Glutamic acid is a stimulator of neurotransmitters that are released by nerve cells in the brain and central nervous system (CNS). Acid stimulates nerve cells to provide sensory information in the human body.

As part of it, some claim that MSG E621 plays a role in increasing the level of glutamate in the brain and excessive stimulation of nerve cells, causing headache, chest pain, mood swings But still not scientifically proved.

For this reason, MSG has been labeled as an excitant.

“ I see people all the time who are convinced that MSG-it causes their allergic reactions causes this, it causes that.” says allergist and immunologist Katharine Woessner of the Scripps Clinic Medical Group who made a detailed study on MSG But she says I think a great misunderstanding.”

But on the same side, some researches surmise that excess intake of MSG raises the level of Glumatic acid in the blood-brain barrier and with neurons, leading to brain swelling and injury. Even some claim that MSG also causes asthma attacks in susceptible people.

Recent studies have revealed that food with glutamate content is the primary energy source of the intestine is a voracious appetite for glutamate. The amount of glutamate consumed by a person about 4% only enters into his body, rest the body itself has to synthesize that it needs, Any protein enriched food or added is converted in the intestine into free glutamate for energy production. It also plays an important role in the brain of a human as a neurotransmitter. Is also a healthy metabolism, however, most of the dietary glutamate we consume is used as nutrition by the cells of the digestive system.

Will MSG E621 cause weight gain?

MSG is a food additive used in restaurants and tinned processed food to boost the flavor. AS per research, a person who intakes more quantity of MSG is more prone to weight gain, And surprisingly it not the good taste of the food that entices a person to eat more instead leads to overweight. Its the side effect of Monosodium that raises the pounds in one.

Hence overall, more research still needs to be done to confirm the findings and understand the exact impact of the monosodium glutamate repercussions.

E621 Monosodium Glutamate
E621 Monosodium Glutamate

On the whole, shreds of evidence indicate that MSG is safe only to a certain level. However, overdose intake may cause harm. If you find an adverse reaction, you shouldn’t prefer to have, or if you don’t experience t any symptoms, then there is no reason to avoid it.

Anyhow a balanced diet and intake of food rich in nutrients with regular exercise won’t stop from anything, not even to worry about consuming MSG.

FAQ for Monosodium Glutamate E621

What is MSG E621?

As stated above Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is the salt and glutamate, a naturally transpiring amino acid present in all proteins such as milk, meat.fish, and many vegetables.

How it is made?

Glutamate is produced by fermentation of starch sugar.beets or molasses. The fermentation process is the same as that used in making Vinegar, Curd, Soya sauce.

Is MSG safe for infants and pregnant women?

Scientific cincher shows that MSG is safe for people of any age including infants and lactating females. Studies with infants showed they metabolize MSG as same as the adults. Indeed the mother’s milk contains 6 to 9 times glutamate higher than cow’s milk.

Does MSG cause allergy?

As per U.S National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the reaction some people claim to have by certain additives such as MSG can be dazed with food allergy when indeed it should be considered food intolerance. Some claim to be sensitive to MSG, but still, there is no proved evidence for the same.

Do MSG cause headache?

The U.S.Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received reports of headaches and nausea from people who ate food containing MSG.

To prove the fact about the side effects, in the 1990s, the FDA asked a scientist group, The Federation Of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), to examine the safety of MSG, and they concluded that MSG is safe. But in some sensitive individuals may show symptoms of headache, numbness, tingling, palpitation after consuming 3 grams of MSG, hence consuming 3-gram pf MSG at a time is not at all suited for a human body.

Does MSG contain Gluten?

MSG E621 is Gluten-free.

What is the E-Number of MSG?


Conclusion: The main aim of this article was to create awareness about MSG. Although glutamate is naturally occurring in many foods, as stated above, it is commonly added as a flavor enhancer and also affiliated as a food additive by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization (WHO).

Although regarding the safety part, it’s not clear about the health benefits and illness by MSG on the human body, several researchers are trying to solve it out. However, there is a myth among people that MSG is a flavor enhancer, hence not good for health.

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