Effect of flavor enhancers on the nutritional status of older persons



This study on flavor enhancers aims to: 1) compare food intake of older persons, 2) determine changes in body weight, blood pressure and serum sodium and 3) determine tolerance/intolerance to the flavor enhancers.


The project is a cross-over, double blind study design.


A nursing home for the aged, Golden Acres Institution located in Quezon City, Philippines.


Sixty eligible subjects (31 males and 29 females), aged 60 years and over.


Subjects were initially given: pouch A (0.5gram monosodium glutamate) or pouch B (0.5gram iodized salt) for lunch and supper for 2 months. The intervention was switched after one week wash period.


Before the start and during intervention, 24 hour food intake of subjects was recorded and anthropometric and clinical data were measured. Tolerance/intolerance to the flavor enhancer and data on the quality of life were evaluated using a pre-tested structured questionnaire. Paired t-test was used to determine significant changes among each period of dietary intervention between different groups.


Energy intake and almost all nutrients increased for males and females for both interventions. Body weight and body mass index increased significantly for both gender with MSG usage but not with iodized salt. The diastolic blood pressure of all subjects was normal while the systolic blood pressure remained at pre-hypertension level before and after both interventions. The sodium serum was within normal levels for both groups for both interventions. It was also observed that systolic blood pressure increased in both groups while sodium levels did not. It was further observed that both MSG and iodized salt interventions were well tolerated by majority of the participants.


The use of flavor enhancers have increased food intake and were well-tolerated among older persons. No difference in blood pressure and sodium serum was noted in both MSG and iodized salt intake.


People with less appetite, especially among older persons can use flavor enhancers to improve their food intake and body weight. Sodium containing flavor enhancers can be part of a healthy diet for older persons when used in moderation.

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Bautista, E.N., Tanchoco, C.C., Tajan, M.G. et al. Effect of flavor enhancers on the nutritional status of older persons. J Nutr Health Aging 17, 390–392 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-012-0438-9

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Key words

  • Flavor enhancer
  • msg
  • iodized salt
  • older persons