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Is MSG Better Than Salt? 5 Things To Know About Vetsin

Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen · Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 02, 2022

    Is MSG Better Than Salt? 5 Things To Know About Vetsin

    Known more commonly in the Philippines as betsin (vetsin), monosodium glutamate has been a pantry staple for many families for years until reports say it’s bad for our health. But, is it true that using MSG means experiencing numerous negative symptoms? Here are some important facts about MSG you might not know about. 

    1. It originally came from dried seaweed

    Since MSG means monosodium glutamate, a very “chemical” name, some people think that it’s an artificially-made food additive. But, monosodium glutamate or vetsin is in fact a naturally occurring compound in foods like cheese and tomatoes. 

    Come to think of it, the scientist who discovered it, Kikunae Ikeda, derived it from the main ingredient of dashi, the seaweed called Laminaria japonica. Dashi is a fermented soup base that gives meaty flavor to non-meaty foods, like vegetables and soy. 

    Ikeda derived MSG (salt of glutamic acid) from the evaporation and treatment of the seaweed broth, and later on mass-produced Ajinomoto, which most Filipinos call vetsin. 


    MSG can be synthetically created. However, please note that Ajinomoto, the brand many Filipinos use, formulate their vetsin using plant-based products, such as sugarcane. 

    2. Adding MSG means you’ll enhance the food’s flavor or give it a meaty, savory taste

    While some people dislike the idea of adding monosodium glutamate to their food, others – as well as some experts – agree that the additive can intensify the food’s flavor. 

    This is advantageous in the sense that people who otherwise wouldn’t eat vegetables might find themselves enjoying healthy foods now. 

    3. The US FDA categorizes MSG as “generally recognized as safe”

    Being generally recognized as safe means experts deem MSG as safe for consumption so long as you use it for its intended purpose. 

    Still, because there are controversies and reports that some people are sensitive to the additive, the FDA still requires companies to indicate when they have used it in their product. 

    The Philippine FDA also recognizes its safety, considering stores can legally sell the product. 

    4. Some people are sensitive to MSG

    Like mentioned above, vetsin is still riddled with controversies because there are reports of people experiencing MSG symptom complex, which can include:

    • Sweating
    • Headache
    • Pressure or tightness on the face
    • Lack of sensation or tingling on the face
    • Feeling sick
    • Chest pain
    • Weakness
    • Quick, fluttering heartbeats 
    • Flushing 

    However, please note that experts have not found a solid connection between these symptoms and MSG. Still, they agree that few people have short-term reactions to MSG. But, these cases often do not need treatment. 

    5. It has 3 times less sodium than salt

    Did you know that using MSG means you’re using 3 times less sodium than salt? Reports say 1 tsp of MSG has about 500 mg of sodium while 1 tsp of table salt contains 2300 mg. 

    Hence if you’re looking to decrease your sodium intake, it’s worth looking into vetsin instead of salt. 

    Everything in Moderation

    Sprinkling vetsin on food may not be detrimental to your health, but using it excessively and frequently is another story. However few, there are still reports that excessive MSG use can be dangerous to one’s health. As with many other ingredients, moderation is still the key. If you want to use MSG instead of salt, remember that it’s not your only option. There are other natural spices that you can use. 

    Additionally, please remember that many packaged and canned foods also use vetsin for flavor enhancement. That means you have to think of them on top of the MSG you use at home. 

    Key Takeaways

    MSG means monosodium glutamate and experts say it’s generally recognized as safe, indicating you can safely consume it as long as you follow its intended use. Please don’t use it excessively. As much as possible, use natural flavors or spices to add taste to food.

    Learn more about Nutrition Facts here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Expertly reviewed by

    Chris Icamen

    Dietetics and Nutrition

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 02, 2022

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