Many good parents consider the ABCs and 123s as building blocks of child development, but we also can improve children’s intelligence, and health, by learning about the I+Gs.

I+G is the manageable term food scientists use to refer to the food additives disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate, two flavor enhancers often used together to boost a food product’s savory flavor.

I+G may in fact be among the most common ingredients you didn’t know. Typically used with MSG (mono sodium glutamate), which we discussed in our last blog post, it can be found in many processed foods, such as salad dressings, potato chips, instant noodles and canned soups.

Label Readers Beware!

However, while it is commonly used, I+G is what we’d call a footnote ingredient, because it comes with small copy. For example, disodium guanylate is not recommended for babies under 12 weeks old, asthmatics or those with gout because it metabolizes into purines, natural substances in our cells that break down into uric acid. When it reaches levels that are too high, uric acid can build up in our joints, tendons and organs.

Further, I+G is among food additives found to cause temper tantrums and other bad behavior among children. A study of 3 year olds conducted in the United Kingdom found that children who consumed juices containing artificial additives, including I+G, were more likely to lose their temper and have difficulty concentrating and sleeping.

Still, and despite its widespread use, I+G is not required by law to be labeled as such. Instead, it is listed in ingredients as a natural flavor. Vegy Vida does not contain any I+G or MSG. Here’s why:

Bad to the bones: Because I+G is an acidifying compound, I+G can contribute to bone loss.

Bad on the brain: Disodium inosinate, along with other flavor-enhancing additives, can over-stimulate brain cells. This can lead to profuse sweating, swelling and other side effects. Further, headaches and migraines have been associated with I+G consumption.

Bad under your skin: I+G can cause blood vessels to widen or dilate, causing skin to flush. Those who are sensitive to the additive may experience itchiness and skin rashes, as well as burning around the mouth. In rare circumstances, it can lead to swelling lips, tongue and throat, requiring urgent care.

Bad for the core (and table manners): In addition to numbness around the mouth, someone sensitive to I+G may experience tightness around the chest or gastric discomfort that can lead to bloating, nausea and burping.

Breaking Bad: Healthy Replacements

The Food and Drug Administration label I+G (disodium inosinate in particular) as “generally recognizable as safe.” That’s not good enough for us, and we don’t think it should be good enough for kids.

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