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Is MSG safe during pregnancy?

Monday, 07 August 2006
Answered by: Ms. Neesha Bukht Choksy
Consultant Nutritionist

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Q. Just two days back I discovered that I am pregnant. I am a working lady, 29 years old. As I was unaware of the fact that I might be pregnant this month, I was eating 1/2 packet of Maggie (with vegetables) a day for the last 10 days. As it contains MSG, I am worried. What effect could this have on the baby? Should I take cornflakes with milk thrice a day?

A.  Make sure not to restrict your diet during pregnancy. If you do, you might not get the right amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals that are necessary to properly nourish your unborn baby. Folic acid can help prevent serious birth defects of your baby’s brain and spine. Please see your doctor immediately so that he can start you up on the suitable dose of vitamins. MSG brings out the flavour in many foods. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all foods containing MSG include that information on labels because some people develop an adverse reaction to it, whether pregnant or not. In sensitive individuals, MSG can trigger headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or sleep disturbances. For this reason, you may want to avoid it during pregnancy. Because of the lack of conclusive evidence of any toxic effects, MSG has been classified by the FDA as GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe for consumption) so for what you have already consumed there is not much you can do. However, MSG is an additive that should be avoided in pregnancy, not only because it is of no use, but also because it is high in sodium. For this reason, it may contribute to water retention. If you are worried about how MSG might affect you or your developing baby, become aware of what foods contain it and limit your intake of them. Be a careful reader of ingredient labels and ask your server at a restaurant if MSG is used in preparing their recipes especially for Chinese cuisine. I recommend that you seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding the prenatal care you must take at the earliest.

A.  Make sure not to restrict your diet during pregnancy. If you do, you might not get the right amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals that are necessary to properly nourish your unborn baby. Folic acid can help prevent serious birth defects of your baby’s brain and spine. Please see your doctor immediately so that he can start you up on the suitable dose of vitamins. MSG brings out the flavour in many foods. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all foods containing MSG include that information on labels because some people develop an adverse reaction to it, whether pregnant or not. In sensitive individuals, MSG can trigger headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or sleep disturbances. For this reason, you may want to avoid it during pregnancy. Because of the lack of conclusive evidence of any toxic effects, MSG has been classified by the FDA as GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe for consumption) so for what you have already consumed there is not much you can do. However, MSG is an additive that should be avoided in pregnancy, not only because it is of no use, but also because it is high in sodium. For this reason, it may contribute to water retention. If you are worried about how MSG might affect you or your developing baby, become aware of what foods contain it and limit your intake of them. Be a careful reader of ingredient labels and ask your server at a restaurant if MSG is used in preparing their recipes especially for Chinese cuisine. I recommend that you seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding the prenatal care you must take at the earliest.

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