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Monosodium Glutamate Formula – Structure, Properties, Uses, Sample Questions

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  • Last Updated : 01 Jun, 2022
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Carbon is a nonmetallic, tetravalent element that is of great use to humans. Its name is derived from Latin carbo which means charcoal or ember. Even though carbon is only 0.025% of the earth’s crust and 0.03% in the atmosphere it is of great importance to mankind. Carbon’s abundance and its ability to form polymer at normal temperature is the reason it is commonly found in all living forms. The largest source of inorganic carbon is limestones, dolomite, etc.

However, Nitrogen is a nonmetal and forms up to 78% of the earth’s atmosphere making it the most abundant element. It is present in all living organisms in the form of nucleic acid (DNA and RNA). Its atomic number is 7 and is represented by the letter N. Nitrogen is found in almost all major pharmacological drugs. It was discovered by a Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford in 1772. And Sodium is a highly reactive metal of atomic number 11. It has only one stable isotope 23Na. It is consumed by almost everyone daily in the form of common salt (NaCl). Almost all sodium salts are highly soluble in water. Sodium is an essential element for all animals and plants.

 What is Monosodium Glutamate?

Sodium glutamate is a sodium salt of Glutamic acid and is commonly known as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). It is not a synthetic compound as it is found naturally in some foods like tomatoes and cheese. 

One of the most common uses of Sodium Glutamate is as a flavor enhancer which helps in enhancing the meaty, savory flavor of foods. It was first prepared by a Japanese Biochemist Kikunae Ikeda in 1908 during his attempts to replicate the taste of Kombu which is an edible see weed used as a base for many Japanese soups.

In the present time Sodium Glutamate can be made by three different methods:

  1. Hydrolysis of any vegetable proteins in the presence of hydrochloric acid.
  2.  Chemically synthesis with the help of acrylonitrile 
  3. Nowadays instead of extracting and crystallizing MSG from seaweed, it is produced by fermentation of starch, sugar beets, etc. This process is very similar to that of making wine or yogurt.

It is sometimes considered to be a reason for headache and nausea but this claim has no bases as no research has been able to provide evidence to support this claim. It has been approved by the FDA and is considered safe to eat.

Structure of Monosodium Glutamate

The chemical formula of Sodium Glutamate is C5H8NO4Na which is formed by replacing one H atom with a Na+  atom. It has an ionic bond between Na+ ion and CH8NO4 ion.

 

In the structure of Sodium Glutamate, the NH2 is represented with a wedged line which means the molecule is above the plane.

Properties of Monosodium Glutamate

  • It appears as a white crystal or crystalline powder and is odorless.
  • Meaty taste in crude glutamates and sweet saline taste in large concentrations.
  • The boiling point of Sodium Glutamate is 225oC.
  • The melting point of Sodium Glutamate is 450oF.
  • It is highly soluble in water and its molecular mass is 169 g/mol.
  • It releases toxic fumes of oxides of nitrogen and sodium when heated at a temperature above 232 degrees C.
  • Generally, it has a pH of 6.7 to 7.2 
  • When it is cooled to a temperature less than -8o C it crystallizes as a pentahydrate. (Pentahydrate means the presence of 5 molecules of water of crystalization) .

Uses of Monosodium Glutamate

  • It is most commonly used as a flavor enhancer which is mostly added to the dishes of china and japan like broths, gravies, meats, and sauce.
  • It is an important part of instant ramen noddle products 
  • It is many times added to tobacco to enhance the taste 
  • It is used in several canned foods and blends. 

Sample Questions

Question 1: What is the chemical formula of sodium Glutamate?

Answer:

The chemical formula of Sodium Glutamate is C5H8NO4Na.

Question 2: When was MSG discovered and by whom?

Answer:

It was first prepared by a Japanese Biochemist Kikunae Ikeda in 1908 during his attempts to replicate the taste of Kombu.

Question 3: Is MSG safe to eat support your claim?

Answer:

It is totally safe to eat in small quantities and this is supported by the FDA.

Question 4: How is MSG prepared nowadays?

Answer:

Nowadays instead of extracting and crystallizing MSG from seaweed, it is produced by fermentation of starch, sugar beets, etc. This process is very similar to that of making wine or yogurt.

Question 5: What is the pH of MSG?

Answer: 

The pH of MSG is generally between 6.7 to 7.2.

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