What Makes Me MSG Sensitive?

MSG affects nearly everyone in some way because free glutamic acid - the business end of MSG and the amino acid that increases in blood concentration when MSG is eaten, is used throughout the body as a chemical messenger and neurotransmitter.  However, some people are more sensitive to excess amounts of free glutamic acid in the body than the average person, who may not even notice symptoms of excess free glutamic acid until after many years of MSG ingestion.  We think of these persons as "canaries in the coal mine".  They are more at risk of damage from eating MSG than the rest of us - but it is simply a matter of degree.  The following are possible reasons for this increased MSG sensitivity:

  • Autism - affects 1 in 94 children in NJ

    • Genetic errors "miswire" the nervous system for glutamate receptors and synapses

    • Genetic errors of sulfur-containing amino acid metabolism - specifically, methionine and cysteine metabolism. 

      • Latest research as of February 2013, has uncovered a gene deletion of the  (TMLHE) gene for carnitine formation which is made from methionine and lysine. Carnitine protects the body from glutamate neurotoxicity. These children are at risk of hypoglycemia - another problem, because the Blood Brain Barrier relies on adequate blood sugar to do its job.

      • Cysteine is used to make glutathione - which is the body's way of removing toxic mercury.  Glutathione is low in autistic children, making them more sensitive to mercury toxicity from all other sources. 

      • Cysteine is also used to make taurine - which is found to be low in persons with epilepsy after a seizure. 30% of children with autism also suffer from seizures.

    • Inflammation present which lowers defense of the blood-brain barrier

  • Gilbert's Syndrome - affects mainly boys - 2% of population

    • Inability of liver to detoxify the blood

    • NMDA glutamate receptors become sensitized

    • Inflammation

  • Alcohol use which may cause:

    • Increased sensitivity of NMDA receptors

    • Vitamin B6 deficiency

    • Compromised liver

  • Compromised liver, (which handles transamination of amino acids) due to:

    • Taurine deficiency

      • Caused by error of metabolism for sulfur containing amino acids

      • Caused by excess estradiol

      • Caused by vitamin B6 deficiency

    • Gilbert's syndrome

    • Vitamin B6 deficiency

    • Transamination difficulty due to errors of metabolism

    • Physical damage

      • Physical Injury (car accident, etc.)

      • Cirrhosis

      • Vitamin A toxicity -
        Note: Accutane (isotretinoin) drug to treat acne side effects are similar to Vitamin A Toxicity.  Unfortunately, teen boys most likely to use Accutane are most likely to be eating too much MSG.

  • CoQ10 Deficiency - nerve cells in the brain and elsewhere may not have the ability to withstand the overstimulation caused by excess glutamate.

    • Caused by lack of other vitamins (like Vitamin B6) the body needs to manufacture CoQ10. 

    • Caused by stress

  • Epilepsy MSG can induce seizure

    • Caused by autism related genes (20% of autistic children have epilepsy)

  • Fibromyalgia - increased nervous system sensitivity

    • Caused by autism

  • Hypoglycemia which causes a defiency of fuel to protect the blood/brain barrier

  • Magnesium Deficiency - Magnesium is used by the nervous system to close calcium channels.  MSG is a calcium channel opener.

  • Parkinson’s Disease

    • Leads to Vitamin B6 deficiency as some medications require a patient to limit B6 intake.  

    • Parkinson's patients already have low dopamine levels.  MSG lowers dopamine levels further - counteracting the medication.

  • Pre-existing allergies which cause:

    • Sensitization of the nervous system due to Nerve Growth Factor (see recent John’s Hopkin’s study on asthma and the nervous system)

    • Leaky blood vessels – edema associated with inflammation response.

  • Type I Diabetes -

    • Caused by antibodies against GAD glutamic acid decarboxylase (85% of those with Type I Diabetes were found to have antibodies against the enzyme that turns excess glutamate into GABA.)

    • Autism genes - Type I diabetes is associated with autism spectrum

  • Vitamin B 6 deficiency caused by poor nutrition, alcohol use, or limiting this vitamin due to food/drug interactions.

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency - Vitamin B12 protects against glutamate neurotoxicity. 


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