Eating Ajinomoto (MSG) in Pregnancy

Packets of Ajinomoto

Those who love Chinese food have probably heard of the ingredient Ajinomoto or MSG. It is widely used as a flavouring agent, most popularly in Chinese cuisine. While it improves the flavour of the food, it is said that MSG can have some adverse side effects when consumed during pregnancy.

What is Ajinomoto or MSG?

Ajinomoto is not actually an ingredient. Ajinomoto Corp. is the name of a Japanese organisation that produces an original product, MSG or Monosodium Glutamate. The use of MSG is controversial as doctor’s caution that long-term consumption can lead to health problems. Others argue that as our bodies produce glutamate naturally, it is safe for consumption.

Why Does Food Industry Prefer to Use Ajinomoto as Food Additive?


As the food industry needs to use a large amount of every ingredient, a cheaper more flavourful ingredient like MSG seems only logical. Not only that, but MSG is known to stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin, causing sugar levels to drop. This makes an individual more hungry and prone to overeating.

Is Eating Ajinomoto during Pregnancy Safe?

A pregnant woman holding her belly

Ajinomoto for pregnant ladies is never a good idea, and they are advised to stay away from foods containing this ingredient as it can be harmful to the baby if consumed in large quantities. It will result in a breakdown in the placental barrier, disrupting the food supply to the baby and leaving the baby exposed to all kinds of germs and diseases and to any acidic food that is present in the stomach. At this time, the baby’s immune system is not able to combat any of these. MSG has also been linked to sterility in women.

Side Effects of Consuming Ajinomoto during Pregnancy

Some effects of MSG on pregnancy are:

  • Placental Damage : Too much MSG can damage the placenta and endanger the baby by exposing it to germs and free glutamates, which can get into the brain cells and induce them.
  • Headaches : Headaches usually lead to migraines which cause vision changes and sensitivity to sound and light.
  • Sleeplessness : MSG triggers insomnia by stimulating the brain cells, keeping you up at night.
  • Over Stimulated Nerves : MSG causes an imbalance in the neurotransmitters by inducing the nerves.
  • Heart Issues : Fluttering heartbeats, chest pains and cardiac arrest can be caused due to MSG.
  • Hypertension : Increased intake of sodium in your diet can lead to water retention and high blood pressure. Hypertension can lead to many other complications during pregnancy.
  • Nausea : If MSG is consumed when immunity levels are low, it may lead to nausea.
  • Obesity : Due to it stimulating the pancreas, MSG is said to be one of the causes of obesity.
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases : It is associated with diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s etc.
  • Other Health Effects : When MSG is broken down in our bodies, it is converted to GABA, which has a tranquillizing effect. There are also other side effects such as numbness, weakness, thyroid issues and more.

Arguments in Favour of Ajinomoto

There are some studies that were conducted on rats that have linked MSG to defects in the placenta, but the same is not seen in monkeys, a species closer to humans. The only way MSG can really cause serious harm is if it is consumed in large quantities.

It should be noted that MSG is an ingredient that is found in nature in different forms like oysters, seafood, tomatoes and parmesan cheese. The human body also produces it naturally, and glutamate is found in breast milk.

Arguments Against the Use of MSG

There are arguments saying that when MSG is made unnaturally, it is made from fermenting sugar which is not good for health. Another reason why caution must be taken when consuming MSG is that it causes the side effects mentioned above.

Best Ways to Cope Up with MSG Exposure

If you feel like you have consumed too much MSG and are starting to feel any of the side effects, here are some ways to counter them:

  • Cream Of Tartar : When mixed with water, cream of tartar neutralizes the effects of MSG poisoning, relieving most symptoms. It creates an alkaline-forming environment when it is consumed and raises the blood pH, thereby stabilizing the system.
  • Homoeopathic MSG : There is a homoeopathic remedy that is made from MSG and helps in relieving most of the symptoms.
  • Water : If you drink a lot of water after a meal with a lot of MSG, it will help flush your system.
  • Avoid MSG : The most effective way to truly keep MSG symptoms away is by avoiding it. Consuming it once in a while may be all right, but avoid consuming it on a daily basis as this eliminates any build-up in your system.

How to Identify Foods that Contain Ajinomoto

Most things are likely to contain MSG if they are processed. Even restaurants use a lot of it. Most fermented foods contain MSG. One good example is soy sauce. Read the labels carefully if you are considering purchasing any processed, canned or packaged foods. It is most likely that these items contain MSG in some form unless it specifically says “MSG-Free.”

They are commonly found in flavourings, colourings, stocks, broths, seasonings and so much more.

While you are most likely going to experience cravings for foods that contain MSG in some form or the other, it is best to avoid it during pregnancy as your body goes through enough hormonal changes and reacts differently to things that it normally would. Consult your doctor about the food that you will be consuming to ensure that you are not sensitive to it. Always keep in mind that it can damage the placental barrier and so it is not something that should be taken lightly. After all, your baby will need the best nutrients to grow strong and healthy inside the womb.