ZMA (Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate, vitamin B6) is a supplement mainly used by athletes and the bodybuilding community. Basically, this supplement is a blend of two minerals, magnesium and zinc, as well as vitamin B6. Since all three of these are extremely important regarding a number of biological processes, it’s critical that you get enough.
It’s believed that less than 40 percent of Americans get enough magnesium, and less than 70 percent of Americans get enough zinc. While focusing on bodybuilding, for example, zinc is essential for the production of testosterone. When you are deficient in both magnesium and zinc, you experience negative effects on muscle growth.
What makes ZMA unique, is its combination of magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B6 in terms of ratio. Also, a different form of zinc is typically used, known as zinc monomethionine aspartate. In a recent study, it was found that when this form of zinc is combined with magnesium and vitamin B6, athletes given this combination experienced 43.7 percent higher levels of testosterone.
What ZMA Will Do For You
As mentioned, this supplement is mainly used within the athletic and bodybuilding community. Zinc is an important mineral used in a number of metabolic reactions. When athletes workout, it’s believed that this results in lower levels of both magnesium and zinc, based on increased sweating.
When zinc levels drop, immune function and performance may be impaired. Since zinc also plays a key role in protein synthesis and the growth of cells, getting enough is essential. As zinc levels drop, so do testosterone levels, correlating with liver function.
Magnesium is another key mineral, involved in over 300 metabolic reactions in the body. It’s important for bone strength, immune function, muscle contractions, and an optimal functioning nervous system. When individuals suffer from a magnesium deficiency, this is a key factor behind poor sleep and insulin insensitivity, which increases your risk of diabetes.
When converting protein into energy, your body utilizes the help of vitamin B6. All three of these vitamins and minerals are powerful on their own, however, when they’re combined, they offer a highly beneficial supplement. Some of the key ways that ZMA will assist you are:
Enhance Hormone Function
While looking at muscle mass and testosterone, a study conducted at the Western Washington University found that ZMA showed mixed effects. Participants were 12 NCAA division II football players who were instructed to take ZMA each night through the eight-week study period. A separate group was given placebos.
At the end of the study, it was found that the players who took ZMA had increased muscle strength 2,5 times greater than the placebo group. While focusing on testosterone, the ZMA group experienced a 30 percent increase, compared to a 10 percent increase in the placebo group. However, there were no significant effects on muscle mass itself.
When you train, your body and muscles break down in order to release energy. The faster your body is able to reach the recovery phase, the stronger you become. Remember, bodybuilding isn’t just able building muscle, it’s also about protecting your muscles from breaking down. Research has been mixed regarding ZMA’s ability to support recovery.
Zinc is known to be an immune booster, lessening the length of time you suffer from colds and other short-term illnesses. Since zinc functions as an antioxidant, activating an enzyme that support immune function. ZMA is also known to improve sleep quality, further supporting your immune system and overall health. This due to its magnesium content, allowing users to reach and extend stage 3 and stage 4 sleep.
The Connection Between ZMA and Testosterone
For starters, it’s important to understand that exercise does not increase testosterone levels. In fact, prolonged periods of exercise can actually decrease production. Although some studies report an increase in levels after training, this is simply a false elevation.
It’s also well-known that testosterone levels drop with age. When studying over 4,000 military veterans, it was found that levels dropped by 30 percent between the ages of 32 and 44. So, where does ZMA come into play?
The connection between zinc and testosterone has been known for years. In one study published in the early 80s, patients who had kidney failure and were typically deficient in this mineral, were given zinc supplements for six months. After this time period, their testosterone levels had increased by 85 percent.
Potential Side Effects
There are no major side effects of ZMA at this time, however, you may experience some negative effects when you do not follow dosing guidelines. Consuming too much zinc or magnesium could cause nausea, diarrhea, and cramping. Also, if taken in high doses for an extended period of time, zinc can negatively affect your immune system and good cholesterol levels.
Immediate concerns are possible drug interactions. Zinc and magnesium can make it challenging for your body to absorb certain medications, such as antibiotics or they can also intensify the effects of certain drugs. If you taking any medications or supplements, please discuss ZMA with your doctor before your first dose.
The general recommended dose of ZMA for men is typically 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium, and 10.5 mg of vitamin B6. Women should generally take two-thirds the recommended dose, however, you should always follow the guidelines set by the supplement’s manufacturer.
For the best results, take ZMA 30 to 60 minutes before bed. Also, it’s recommended that you take this supplement on an empty stomach. Never take ZMA with anything containing calcium, as this will hinder the absorption of one another. If you typically consume protein before bed, do so 30 to 60 minutes after your ZMA dose.