Ajinomoto (MSG) During Pregnancy

5 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Ajinomoto During Pregnancy
You are in your full-blown pregnancy period and you are craving Chinese food. The only reason you are holding back is that you know Chinese food has an ingredient called Ajinomoto, known as MSG in medical terms. You have heard that too much of it is bad for your heart and you are scared if it is safe for your baby too. So, what is the truth? Can you have Ajinomoto during pregnancy? Is it safe?

Well, the medical fraternity is divided over the answer. Some say it is dangerous and you must avoid it at all costs, especially if you are pregnant, keeping in mind the health of the baby in the womb. Another set of experts claim that the ingredient has undergone lots of tests and is safe even when you are pregnant. We will learn about both sides of the argument.

In This Article

What is Ajinomoto or MSG?

MSG or monosodium glutamate, the main ingredient in Ajinomoto, is a common food additive in Chinese cuisine. A Japanese firm named Ajinomoto Corp produces the food enhancer Ajinomoto. It is called glutamate and is the salt form of the non-essential glutamic acid. It is important to know here that our body also produces this salt naturally. The problem comes with commercial Ajinomoto, especially when we have it in excess.

Why Does Food Industry Use Ajinomoto?

Why Does Food Industry Use Ajinomoto_

MSG or Ajinomoto is used by the food industry as a taste enhancer. In recent years, this ingredient is being widely used as a food additive and a flavoring agent in dishes such as soups, stocks, sauces, canned foods, and in almost all processed food, etc.

Important Facts About MSG

Find out some interesting facts about MSG

  • MSG is inexpensive and widely available.
  • It stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin, which causes a drop in the sugar level, increasing your appetite and cravings. This ultimately leads to weight gain and obesity.
  • When Ajinomoto breaks down in your body, it converts into GABA, which has a tranquilizing effect.
  • Also known as the nicotine of food, MSG is addictive too.

MSG During Pregnancy

Your body undergoes many changes both hormonal and physical while you are pregnant. You may find yourself craving food that has an MSG high content. What you can do is to ask the staff of the restaurant directly if they use MSG in their food. If yes, then ask them not to add it to your plate. If you are allergic to MSG then make sure you avoid it during pregnancy.

MCG can cross the placental barrier and reach your baby. According to one research study conducted on mice, oral feeding of MSG to the pregnant mother resulted in the ingredient reaching the fetus. The absorption of this ingredient was uneven and the developing brain absorbed almost double the MSG when compared to the rest of the fetal mice.

While this study implies that MSG can be unsafe for the little one growing within you, this happens with only excessive consumption of the ingredient. It is safe to use once in a while.

Effects Ajinomoto on Pregnancy

Effects Ajinomoto on Pregnancy

MSG or Ajinomoto has long been a controversial subject of debate, though no definitive outcomes have yet been reached. Some studies on rats have linked MSG to placental defects, but no adverse effects have yet been established on monkeys. Also, to cause harm to the baby, you must consume it in very large quantities.

However, Ajinomoto over-stimulates the nerve cells. When taken in excess it upsets the balance of the neurotransmitter. This can have consequences for the health and the body of the fetus. Again, for these effects to happen, you must ingest MSG in huge quantities which is practically impossible unless you have foods with MSG for breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day.

[Read: Health Benefits Chinese Spinach Or Water Spinach During Pregnancy]

Arguments in Favor of MSG

Here are a few arguments in favor of MSG:

  • It is a natural ingredient and is found in many natural fruits and vegetables.
  • The human body also produces it naturally.
  • Even breast milk has glutamate.

Arguments Against the Use of Ajinomoto

Those who are against the notion, this is what they reason out as to support their belief of ‘why to avoid msg in pregnancy’:

  • Commercial MSG is made from fermenting sugar, which is not good for your health, especially when you are pregnant.
  • The ingredient brings on headaches, sweating, numbness, or tightness in the face, increases palpitations, chest pain, and also nausea

FDA approves MSG and it finds a place on the list of GRAS substances (Generally recognized as safe). However, many people do have adverse reactions to MSG and if you are sensitive to it, you must completely avoid it when pregnant.

Tips To Identify the Food That Contain Ajinomoto

There is a long-standing practice of adding MSG to condiments such as mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, mustard, and salad dressings to increase flavor. MSG also enhances the salty, savory flavor of chips and other snacks

Most packaged foods must list MSG either by name or by its food additive code number 621 in the ingredients list. MSG might be designated as: “Flavor enhancer (MSG)”, or. ‘Flavor enhancer (621)’.

When eating in a restaurant, ask the chef whether the dish you have chosen contains Ajinomoto or not. It is likely that a lot of MSG has been added to the food if you feel like you need to drink a lot of water after eating a normally salted dish.

Is it Safe to Have Ajinomoto in Pregnancy?

Is it Safe to Have Ajinomoto in Pregnancy_

So what is the final verdict? Does Ajinomoto affect pregnancy or not? The answer is, if you have even an iota of doubt about the effect of MSG, then it is better to exercise caution especially when you are eating Chinese food. Avoid Ajinomoto in Chinese food during pregnancy.

You can also check food labels for other products which may contain MSG. Your baby needs the best of nutrients to grow healthily inside the womb. Ajinomoto can affect the baby’s hormonal as well as biological development.

In conclusion, we will advise that you consult your doctor about the particular food items you are taking and especially before trying food with MSG. If you are not sensitive to MSG, consuming it should not be a problem. But because pregnancy reacts differently to everything, taking your doctor’s advice would just be the best thing!

So, ultimately it is important to be aware of both sides of the argument to make the best decision for yourself.

[Read: 10 Foods To Definitely Avoid During Pregnancy]


1. Can Ajinomoto Cause Miscarriage?

Excess consumption of Ajinomoto can break the placenta barrier. This can affect the pregnancy. Ensure you don’t over-consume during pregnancy.

2. Can Ajinomoto Cause Birth Defects?

Overconsumption of Ajinomoto can affect the placenta. When this happens, the baby’s protection comes down. This can affect a baby’s brain development.

3. Should I Avoid Chinese Foods During Pregnancy Due to Ajinomoto?

No, you need not. Having this once in a while in very limited quantities is ok. Restaurants use this to just enhance the flavor.

4. Can Ajinomoto Cause Constipation During Pregnancy?

Ajinomoto can irritate the stomach lining for some. Pregnant women can be very sensitive. It can cause severe reactions in some.

Read Also: Instant Noodles During Pregnancy Can I Eat?

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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