MSG is Harmful for You and Your Children

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer usually used for  soup, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, restaurant foods and many other foods. This amino acid brings out the flavor in many foods. While that may sound like a treat for taste buds, the use of MSG allows companies to reduce the amount of real ingredients in their foods, such as chicken in chicken soup. In the 1960s, it was discovered that large amounts of MSG fed to infant mice destroyed nerve cells in the brain. After that research was publicized, public pressure forced baby-food companies to stop adding MSG to their products (it was used to make the foods taste better to parents).

Careful studies have shown that some people are sensitive to large amounts of MSG. Reactions include headache, nausea, weakness, and burning sensation in the back of neck and forearms. Some people complain of wheezing, changes in heart rate, and difficulty breathing. Some people claim to be sensitive to very small amounts of MSG, but no good studies have been done to determine just how little MSG can cause a reaction in the most-sensitive people. To protect the public’s health, manufacturers and restaurateurs should use less or no MSG and the amounts of MSG should be listed on labels of foods that contain significant amounts. People who believe they are sensitive to MSG should be aware that other ingredients, such as natural flavoring and hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), also contain glutamate. Also, foods such as Parmesan cheese and tomatoes contain glutamate that occurs naturally, but no reactions have been reported to those foods.

Migraine Headaches in Children

What should you do if you or your family, particularly  your children, suffers migraine  headache? This kind of headache has been  related to the broad uncontrolled consumption of MSG, especially in the food industry. Nonpharmacologic options are effective in treating children/adolescents and are initiated before pharmacologic therapy is considered (Damen et al 2006, Lewis et al 2005, Unger 2006).

Maintenance of a Headache Calendar

  • Maintenance of a headache calendar can assist with trigger identification and allows for management plan adjustment based on an individual’s response to interventions.
  • Adjustment of lifestyle habits should include maintenance of routine patterns of sleeping, eating, and exercise.

Sleep: Children with Migraines Tend to Have Sleep Disturbances

  • A child should sleep 8 to 10 hours nightly with scheduled bedtime and awakening. Some adjustment can be made on weekends, but the regular bedtime should be resumed on Sunday night (Power & Andrasik, 2005)
  • Adolescents can sleep later on weekends as well but should plan to awaken briefly at the regular time, get out of bed, drink juice or eat a snack, and go back to sleep (Unger, 2006).
  • A quiet routine before bedtime is recommended. Young children should avoid frightening books, movies and television shows. Night lights or white noise might help.

Nutrition and Dietary Patterns

  1. The child should eat three meals and one to two snacks a day at routine times. Breakfast should not be skipped.
  2. In general, avoidance diets are not recommended for children or adolescents unless a trigger has been identified.
  3. About one third of children report that certain foods trigger headaches. Chocolate, citrus fruits, and cheeses are common triggers; processed meats, yogurt, fried foods, monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame, and alcoholic beverages are known triggers as well (Lewis et al., 2005).
  4. Caffeine should be avoided because it is linked to sleep disturbances and mood disruptions, both headache triggers (Lewis et al., 2005).
  5. Inadequate hydration should be avoided. Adolescents are encouraged to drink 2 liters (L) of noncaffeinated liquids, ideally water, per day, increasing to 3 L a day during the summer and periods of exertion (Powers & Andrasik, 2005).

Physical Activity

  • Children and adolescences are encouraged to participate with family or friends in at least 30 minutes of enjoyable, aerobic activity 3 to 7 days a week.

Prioritization of Activities and Evaluation of Performance and Expectation

  • Excessive or unrealistic expectations of performance in school, athletics, and other activities may contribute to migraines. Sport performance and college acceptance are two common stressors. If after-school activities are excessive, consideration should be given to eliminating some of the activities.

For deeper and comprehensive information concerning MSG and other food additives available in the market, read the following article:


  • Medscape Today Headlines“, of September 2009