Excitotoxins and Testosterone: be Cautious with MSG and No-Calorie Sweeteners

Excitotoxins are compounds added to most packaged foods, which can bypass the blood-brain barrier, and wreck havoc in certain brain receptors. They have a really bad rep in the mass media, and some people seem to blame excitotoxins for just about any medical issue they can think about.

But is the rep justified, or are excitotoxins safe to consume?

Let’s find out:

Potential Dangers of Excitotoxin Consumption

excitotoxins and how they lower t levelsThe word “excitotoxicity” describes a pathological process where nerve cells are damaged or killed because of excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters such as glutamate and other stimulatory compounds.

Most common of the excitotoxins is the notorious MSG (monosodium glutamate), which binds into the NMDA and AMPA receptors of the brain, causing the receptors to uptake too much calcium ions, which overexcites the receptors, and eventually damages them.

Common Excitotoxins Added to Processed Foods
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Monopotassium Glutamate
  • Monoammonium Glutamate
  • Magnesium Diglutamate
  • Glycyrrhizin (in licorice)
  • Aspartame
  • Sucralose
  • Neotame
  • Carrageenan
  • Alitame
  • Thaumatin

The negative effects aren’t only happening inside the brain. There is a legitimate concern that excitotoxins could also negatively influence testosterone production.

This happens because the oversynaptic activation of the NMDA receptors, shuts down some of the cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophospate) activity. And cAMP serves as a signaling molecule between the brain and the balls.

There’s also some theories about excitotoxins overexciting the androgen receptors of the brain in a similar manner than what is seen with the NMDA receptors. And few animal studies have shown a clear link between lowered testosterone levels, central nervous system damage, and excitotoxin intake in male rodents (study, study, study)


The manufacturers and their lobbyists work hard to sell us the idea that excitotoxins would be perfectly safe, while the “natural-health hippies” will tell you that the compounds slowly kill you.

I believe that the truth may fall somewhere in-between.

Yes excitotoxins can be bad for your brain health and testosterone production when continuously consumed, but no, you won’t get a brain seizure after drinking one bottle of aspartame sweetened soda. Besides, there’s no reason to fear sugar, so why would you use a substitute?

Excitotoxins and Testosterone: be Cautious with MSG and No-Calorie Sweeteners was last modified: March 27th, 2017 by Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala is the founder of Anabolic Men, and an Independent Researcher that has been credited with organizing the findings that have helped thousands of men reach hormonal balance.
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  1. Will on 05/03/2015 at 19:59

    I use to take a ZMA (zinc, magnesium, B-6) supplement back in college (5 years ago) and the magnesium was “magnesium asparate” and long story short, holy shit! It gave me the weirdest feelings and thoughts when I would start to fall asleep. After some research, the asparate was basically “overexciting” receptors in my head. It made me feel like I had no control of my head and thoughts, kind of hard to explain.

    I know people who can take it with no ill affects, but everyone is different. I have learned that asparate bothers me, or at least makes me not like how I feel when in my system.

    Awesome post!

    • Chris @ 19th Century Alpha on 09/03/2015 at 03:50

      I take ZMA every night. I have never had any wierd effects but I have heard more people like yourself than not.My ZMA also uses magnesium Aspartate. Is this considered a bad excitotoxin Ali?

      • Will on 10/03/2015 at 01:47

        Yeah man, some don’t notice any negatives. I have tried a few different times with the same effect each time.

        • Chris @ 19th Century Alpha on 10/03/2015 at 02:25

          That’s crazy stuff. I’m hoping Ali will chime in to whether or not the mag aspartate is a bad source and perhaps the crazy drug. I know magnesium is a critical mineral and ZMA is a quick and dirty fix.

          • Will on 10/03/2015 at 03:15

            I’m sure he will. And FYI there are some ZMA on the market that contain different forms of magnesium, which I noticed no negatives with. You’ll have to find on amazon, I don’t want to rec’d or promote a certain brand on Ali’s site.

          • Chris @ 19th Century Alpha on 10/03/2015 at 03:22

            I can respect that.

    • Ali Kuoppala on 28/09/2015 at 13:51

      I’m not sure about the effects of asparate in supplements, but I personally can’t take zinc asparate on an empty stomach.

      I got a free “tester” bottle of it once when I ordered supplements, and sometimes in the morning when I popped a cap of it (30 mg’s), it took about one hour and I was throwing up. Took me a while to realize it was the zinc asparate that triggered the vomiting.

      Have never had anything similar happen with other forms of zinc (orotate, citrate, oxide, etc).

  2. Chris @ 19th Century Alpha on 09/03/2015 at 03:38

    There is sucralose in the bottle of creatine I just threw in the trash. I quit taking it last year. I avoid chemical sweeteners whenever possible. I got a bunch for free but just couldn’t bring myself to take it for long. Once again Ali, your information is priceless! Thank you!

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