3 Harmful Effects Of MSG On Pregnancy

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Most doctors advise against consuming additives during pregnancy and recommend sticking to basic and homemade meals and organic foods. One food additive that your doctor may recommend that you be wary of is monosodium glutamate or MSG during pregnancy.

Whatever you eat or consume daily throughout your pregnancy can significantly impact you and your baby. MSG has no unique flavor of its own, but it is used to enhance the inherent savory flavor of various meals. While MSG is generally safe to consume, you may want to consider whether it is safe during pregnancy.

Read this post to know more about MSG and its effects on pregnancy.

What Is MSG? 

MSG is a food additive and flavoring substance

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Monosodium glutamate is a food additive and flavoring substance used primarily in various cuisines. MSG is also a common component in many packaged, especially ready-to-eat canned foods, and is used to add flavor and taste. The Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) allows the addition of MSG to food as an additive to be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), which means it is a safe food ingredient (1).

Did you know?
The body digests MSG in the same way as glutamate, which is naturally found in several foods, such as tomatoes and cheese (4).

MSG And Pregnancy Effects

Is MSG harmful during pregnancy? This is one big question that can be raised. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

1. Avoid if you are allergic

Avoid salts and MSG during pregnancy if you have water retention

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It is best to avoid eating msg during pregnancy, if you are allergic to it, as the effects and allergic reaction could multiply in reaction. MSG has been known to cause certain allergy type reactions with symptoms which include but are not limited to (2):

  • Sweating and flushing
  • Headache, numbness and muscle tightening
  • Nausea and chest pain

2. Avoid if you have water retention

You may experience water retention during pregnancy. Salt is a major contributor to this problem. If your body is retaining excess water during your pregnancy, avoid MSG and all other salts as well.

3. Glutamate effects

As per a research, when MSG was injected in pregnancy monkeys, there was no increase in glutamate levels. In fact, the amino acids were transferred, ensuring fetal growth (3).

The Best Way to Deal with MSG Exposure

There is no proven scientific study so far that says MSG has a proven adverse effect on women and the baby during the pregnancy. However, since pregnancy leads to hormonal changes, you may have heightened responses from the body. The best way to deal with MSG is:

  • Avoid it if you are allergic to MSG.
  • Avoid it if you want to exercise caution and don’t want to take a risk.
Quick fact
On average, the amount of MSG ingested as a food additive in a meal is minuscule when compared to the total glutamate present in our body (5).

How To Know If Food Has MSG?

FDA has instructed all food manufacturing and packaging companies, as a mandate, to mention the MSG content-related information on the food packet. While buying any kind of packaged food or processed food, you can make an informed choice by reading the contents on the label.

Is It a Yes or No to MSG During Pregnancy?

Have minimal or no consumption of MSG during pregnancy

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During pregnancy, always try to have fresh food and avoid packaged and processed food as it has reduced nutritive value. Exercise caution when you go out to eat or buy packaged food. MSG can make your food flavorful and sumptuous, but is it worth the health of your baby? We suggest minimal or no consumption of MSG during pregnancy. It is important that your baby gets all the necessary nutrients needed for healthy development. Do check on the same with your doctor to get the most informed advice. Eat healthy, for what you eat is what your baby does!

Studies have not yet proven any adverse effects owing to MSG intake. However, consuming MSG during pregnancy is not recommended, especially if you have had allergic reactions to it, such as headache, nausea, and sweating. Further, avoiding MSG and other salts is recommended if you experience excess water retention and bloating in pregnancy. Carefully read all food labels, especially packaged and processed foods, to ensure they do not contain MSG. Further, include more fresh foods in your diet for a healthy and safe pregnancy.


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