Study: Vitamin D Could Alleviate Negative Impacts of Monosodium Glutamate


Vitamin D could mitigate negative impacts on neurobehavior and weight gain caused by consumption of monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Vitamin D could mitigate monosodium glutamate (MSG)-caused decline in long and short-term memory and reduced exploratory and anxiogenic behavior, according to results published in NeuroToxicology.1

top view msg salt on wooden plate with copy space - Image credit Shiina shiro111 |

Image credit Shiina shiro111 |

MSG is commonly used in processed and unprocessed foods as a flavoring to improve the palate, including restaurant foods, canned vegetables, soups, deli meats, and more. Study authors noted that the FDA has categorized MSG as a safe ingredient to ingest, although it still comes with adverse events. Common reactions after consuming MSG include headache, flushing, sweating, face pressure or tightness, lack of feeling, tingling, or burning in the face and neck, quick fluttering heartbeat, chest pain, nausea, and weakness. However, researchers noted that there is a lack of proof linking the symptoms with MSG.1,2

Further studies identified MSG as a “neurotoxic agent” that could impact the brain neurochemistry mainly through ecotoxicity. Study authors noted that these effects elevate extracellular glutamate levels that could lead to hyperstimulation.1

To investigate the role of vitamin D exposure in mitigating MSG effects on memory, anxiety, and exploratory behaviors, the researchers conducted a study of 35 adults male Wistar rats. The study authors noted that the rats were 12 to 16 weeks old, weighed between 180 g and 220 g, and were acquired from the institutional breeding colony at Redeemer’s University in Nigeria. To complete the study the researchers used behavioral tests that included the Morris water maze (MWM) that assessed spatial memory.1

The results displayed significant metabolic impacts caused by MSG in the rats, underlining issues in glucose and lipid metabolism. MSG was reported to cause decline in short- and long-term memory among the rats, as well. However, the study authors noted that rats that were exposed to MSG also displayed prolonged escape latency compared to rats in the vitamin D group. The findings suggest that vitamin D could aid negative impacts of MSG on neurobehavior, metabolic activities, redox status, cholinergic homeostasis, and histomorphology of the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum, according to study authors.1

In an additional study published in the National Library of Medicine, researchers found similar results favoring the use of vitamin D among female Wistar rats with obesity. The researchers included 18 female rats, dividing them into 3 groups to receive saline, an oral dose of MSG, and an oral dose of MSG with calcitriol.3

The results showed that rats in the MSG groups exhibited a large increase in body weight, food intake, and water intake, whereas the vitamin D with MSG group showed a decrease. The findings suggest that the consumption of vitamin D could lessen body weight gain by MSG-induced foods in obese rats— emphasizing vitamin D's potential to treat obesity.1

However, the study authors noted that more research and further studies need to be conducted to evaluate the specific mechanisms behind the use of vitamin D to mitigate both neurologic and obesity impacts caused by MSG.1

1. Vitamin D attenuates monosodium glutamate-induced behavioural anomalies, metabolic dysregulation, cholinergic impairment, oxidative stress, and astrogliosis in rats. Science Direct. News release. July 3, 2024. Accessed July 3, 2024.
2. Zeratsky K. What is MSG? Is it bad for you? Mayo Clinic. April 20, 2022. Accessed July 3, 2024.
3. Protective Role of Co-administration of Vitamin D in Monosodium Glutamate Induced Obesity in Female Rats. National Library of Medicine. News release. February 2018. Accessed July 3, 2024.
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