What Is Glutamic Acid HCL?

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Glutamic Acid, or glutamate, is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. Generally recognized for its power as a neurotransmitter, glutamic acid is a hydrochloride (HCL) and often used to flavor food or as a supplement to promote digestion.


A patient who eats more often, or consumes large quantities of food, may suffer from mild to moderate digestive discomfort, ranging from gas and bloating to intense discomfort. This is due to suppression of stomach acid as it is perpetually full, slowing digestion. As a digestive aid, glutamic acid hcl can be used, though, Dr. Elson M. Haas reports in his book "Staying Healthy with Nutrition," that other acids, such as betaine HCL, may be more effective.

Other Benefits

Dr. Haas also asserts that use of HCL, in a supplement form, can be useful for other patients with low acid secretion, such as diabetics. The supplement may also function as an anti-aging supplement as well. HCL production is generally low during times of stress, which can contribute to both external aging, such as wrinkles and age spots; and internal aging, such as periodontal disease and digestive disorders.

Food Additive

As a food additive, glutamic acid HCL is better known as MSG to the general public and is used as a sodium additive. Sodium additives in food tend to cause some concern, but in the March, 2003, issue of the "Journal of Chemical Education," Dr. Addison Ault details how MSG is synthesized naturally and poses no cause for concern.


Dosage of glutamic acid HCL supplements are relatively low, around 500 – 1,500 mg. The supplements are usually found in pill form, constructed of the white, powdered substance. It is also available commercially, as an ingredient in many protein supplement powders.


Though glutamic acid supplementation is generally considered safe for most people, it has been known to have the following side effects according to the Mayo Clinic: flushing,headaches, sweating, facial pressure, numbness, tingling, burning sensations, heart palpitations, nausea, weakness, and chest pains. It's recommend that those suffering from mental disorders, pregnant women, and women who are breastfeeding should not take any glutamic supplements or foods with MSG additives.