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Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Truth About Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) - Part 2

1:41 PM
I could certainly go on for hours, citing study after study with "evidence" and "counter-evidence", or rather what the respective authors consider as such, but I believe that you have read enough to see a couple of basic patterns emerge, here.

So what about those differences? Genes, dosages, or what?

One of these patterns is also brought up by Kondoha and Torii in the discussion of the results of their study (remember: decrease in body fat and increase in energy expenditure; purported mechanism = activation of glutamate receptors that are linked to the vagus nerve), in which the researchers state that they believe that the diametrically opposed results of their, compared to other studies (most of which report an increase not a decrease in body fat that is accompanied by increases in circulating leptin and decreases in leptin sensitivity and not vice versa as in the Kondoh study), may well be explained by [previous] studies [being] designed specifically to produce toxic effects in the brain (where GLU is an excitatory neurotransmitter), through the administration of extremely high doses (2000 mg/kg or more, administered repeatedly) to infant animals, either by single, direct injection or intubation (Kondoh. 2008).

Those high dosages could in fact have lead to blood glutamate concentrations that would allow the flux of the excitatory amino acid even across intact blood-brain-barriers. The more realistic, orally administered dosages  Kondoh and Torii used in their experiment, on the other hand, did not induce any (not even statistically non-significant) elevations of serum glutamate levels. Hence, the effects seen in the present study, as discussed above, are probably linked via a physiologic mechanism, to a local action of GLU in the gut, rather than via a pharmacologic/toxicologic mechanism to a distant action of exogenous GLU forced on the brain (Kondoh. 2008).

If you review the brief rundown of the literature I've provided in the previous paragraphs you will have to acknowledge the validity of this remark (remember: the steatosis in the Collison study required co-administration of trans-fatty acids /TFA/ and even then the increase solely due to MSG was marginal compared to that of the TFAs, alone).

Without a leaky gut, you would probably have to eat pure MSG all day to do harm 

If you also take into account, that in healthy individuals only <5% of the dietary glutamate are actually absorbed into systemic circulation, while the rest is used as an oxidative substrate by the intestinal mucosa (Smriga. 2007), the difference between thhe orally consumed 33mg/kg MSG that helped the rodents in the study by Kondoh and Torii to lean out and the intraperitoneally injected 4,000mg/kg that were necessary to induce the touted hepatic side effects in the study by Faromby and Onyema are way above the average intake even the worst offenders among the MSG abusers are exposed to.

Even if we discard the oxidative loss within the intestine, those 4,000mg/kg for a rodent (in previous studies Onyema et al. had even used 6,000mg/kg to elicit the hepatic damage; Onyema. 2006) would translate to ~650mg/kg in humans and would mean that you would have to shovel down anywhere between 32g and 64g of pure MSG (depending on whether you weigh 50 or 100kg), i.e. 20-40x more than the average daily intake of a Korean (note: The "rodent model of MSG induced obesity" is induced by injection of 10,000mg/kg body weight; cf. Bunyan. 1976) and the whopping MSG equivalent of 400-800ml of soy sauce (avg. MSG content 80mg/ml), which is probably the worst offender in the E-number-laden ingredient arsenal of the Asian cuisine.

Your best bet to ingest similar amounts of free glutamate from real foods is, as the data from a review by Loliger suggests, would be parmesan cheeese, but in all honesty, in view of the fact that you would have to consume 2.6kg of the Italian delicacy, it is pretty unlikely that the glutamate and not the sheer amount of pure energy in the cheese would be the underlying reason for subsequent weight gain. Against that background it should not be surprising that negative side-effects as they occur as a result of high to unrealistically high MSG intakes and or in especially susceptible individuals, are not exactly common in people who don't eat out and/or consume pre-packaged convenient foods on a regular, if not daily basis.


  1. The Truth About Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) - Part 1
  2. The Truth About Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) - Part 2
  3. The Truth About Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) - Part 3


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