Intense physical training can increase the risk of deficiencies of key minerals and trace elements namely, zinc and magnesium. These zinc and magnesium losses can have a direct, negative effect on strength and endurance. ZMA, a novel zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin B6 patented formula is made up of precise forms and amounts to help increase anabolic hormones and strength in athletes. Because of its documented effectiveness for raising testosterone levels, this supplement is used by hundreds of athletes as a safe, natural alternative to pro-hormones.
Other names for ZMA
zinc monomethionine aspartate, magnesium aspartate
ZMA is patent protected.
Where to find ZMA
ZMA is a trademarked nutrient combination that contains the minerals and trace elements zinc monomethionine aspartate, magnesium aspartate, and Vitamin B6 in very specific amounts. All of these nutrients can be found in a number of foods, but the specific combination of type and amounts exists only in the ZMA formula.
Zinc can be found naturally in red meat, egg yolks, oysters, pork, turkey, and some wheat-grain products.
Magnesium can be found naturally in bananas, avocados, fish, dairy products, and shrimp.
More about ZMA
ZMA has quickly become a popular, natural alternative to pro-hormones (hormone precursors) such as androstendione and DHEA. Used to boost testosterone levels by sports enthusiasts and fitness buffs alike, ZMA has been shown to encourage strength gains as well as maximize muscle mass and endurance in athletes.
ZMA has also revealed its importance for helping improve sleep, which in turn may improve muscle-tissue recovery and encourage growth-hormone release. Because the body releases its maximum amount of growth hormone each night around 90 minutes after sleep, it is critical that these all-important minerals and trace elements (zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin B6) are not depleted; otherwise, we could be limiting our ability to increase growth-hormone secretion, which is primarily responsible for muscle growth. For those actively involved in weight training or other sporting activities, this nutrient combination is a "must have" to prevent any deficiencies from occurring.
What is ZMA, and how does it differ from just plain old zinc and magnesium?
This scientifically designed, patented mineral formula is made up of very precise amounts and forms of zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin B6; specifically, zinc monomethionine/aspartate, magnesium aspartate, and Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCL). This precise combination is what makes it so different from your normal, everyday zinc or magnesium supplements, usually found in vitamin/mineral formulas.
ZMA was designed specifically for athletes to help increase strength, endurance, and recovery and has been shown in recent studies to support natural anabolic (muscle-building) hormone production, hence the reason it's become so popular as a natural testosterone- and growth-hormone-boosting agent.
Studies on ZMA
In one double-blind study, called "Zinc and Muscle Strength and Endurance," therapeutic administration of zinc was documented to significantly improve muscle performance. In another study, "Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Strength Training in Humans," peak quadriceps torque (leg press force) measurements were made before and after a seven-week strength-training program. The strength of the zinc/magnesium-supplemented group significantly increased by 26%, compared to only 10% for the placebo groups.
Why ZMA instead of pro-hormones?
There are a number of reasons ZMA may be more attractive than some pro-hormone supplements. First, there is no need to "cycle" ZMA, which can be taken on a continuous basis. Pro-hormones, on the other hand, need to be supplemented on a regimented cycle (supplementing for a specific time and then taking time off of supplementation) for optimal results and to reduce the likelihood of unwanted, negative side effects.
What's more, while pro-hormones are not recommended for women and teens, ZMA can be supplemented by any active teen or adult whatever the age or sex provided they follow the usage guidelines. And, pro-hormones have been banned by many athletic organizations, such as the U.S. Olympic Committee, the NFL, and the NBA. Whereas ZMA is not. In fact, ZMA is used by hundreds of world-class athletes, and many have reported phenomenal results in the building of muscle mass.
It isn't all anecdotal evidence either ZMA has been found in studies to increase free and total testosterone by over 30%, without creating steroid metabolites that would cause a false positive on a drug test. And more importantly, supplementing with ZMA will not cause any of the negative side effects that are oftentimes associated with the use of pro-hormones.
How does it work?
ZMA provides minerals and trace elements that support many enzymatic processes within the body. According to research, the nutrients in ZMA all work together to provide synergistic results that would not be found when taking these nutrients separately.
Magnesium ensures our muscle tissues, which are heavily burdened during workouts, get sufficient amounts of oxygen. When there is a magnesium deficiency, muscles are depleted of oxygen without sufficient replacement of oxygen, muscles exhaust more easily. Magnesium on its own aids strength, endurance, and relaxation and is necessary to support the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins. Together with B6 and zinc, magnesium appears to be better absorbed and more effectively used by the body.
Zinc regulates and promotes proper hormone production, specifically testosterone, which supports healthy muscle growth. Zinc also stimulates the primary antioxidant enzyme in the body SOD to boost immune functioning. Zinc has also been shown to promote healthy cell reproduction and repair tissue damage. These functions appear to be greatly enhanced by combining zinc with both B6 and magnesium.
Vitamin B6 aids the formation and processing of amino acids (proteins) in our muscle cells. B6 also encourages the use of stored energy, metabolizing amino acids, proteins, and fats, improving energy use, and can aid in the formation of many chemical messengers essential to proper mental functioning and mood. Used with magnesium and zinc, as in ZMA, B6 may be absorbed and used more effectively.
In conclusion: why do I need it?
Magnesium is one of the more common nutritional deficiencies among healthy adults, especially women and the elderly. Deficiencies are also very common among weight trainers, due to increased loss of these nutrients during workouts. Zinc and B6 are also depleted during intense exercise, and deficiencies also tend to arise. In fact, in a study with 160 athletes, 23% of the males and 43% of the females had significantly low levels of zinc. The good news: ZMA can counteract these deficiencies and potentially boost overall performance and health as result.
For adult male athletes, scientific studies support taking 25 mg of zinc and 450 mg of magnesium daily. According to researchers, both female and teenage male athletes need half that amount daily (12 to 15 mg of zinc and 225 mg of magnesium) taken in 2 divided dosages.
Most formulas containing the patented form of ZMA contain about 25 to 30 mg of zinc monomethionine/aspartate and about 450 to 500 mg of magnesium aspartate.
It is recommended that ZMA be taken 30 minutes before a workout and again about 30 minutes prior to bedtime, preferably on an empty stomach.
Do not consume ZMA with (or directly before of after consuming) any foods or supplements containing high amounts of calcium (i.e., milk, yogurt, etc.), because calcium may reduce the absorption of the nutrients in ZMA.
Synergists of ZMA
The nutrients in this formula have been shown in scientific, peer-reviewed studies to be synergistic when combined.
Safety of ZMA
People with Alzheimer's disease should avoid all zinc supplements.
Toxicity of ZMA
No known toxicity.
Bans and restrictions
- Brilla, L.R., and Haley, T.F., "Effect of Magnesium Supplementation on Strength Training in Humans," J Am Coll Nutr 11.3 (1992) : 326-9.
- Brilla, L.R., and Conte, V., "Effects of Zinc-Magnesium (ZMA) Supplementation on Muscle Attributes of Football Players," Med Sci Sports Exer 31.5 (1999).
- Cordova, A., and Alvarez-Mon. M., "Behaviour of Zinc in Physical Exercise: A Special Reference to Immunity and Fatigue," Neurosci Biobehav Rev 19.3 (1995) : 439-45.
- Haralambie, G., "Serum Zinc in Athletes in Training," Int J Sports Med 2.3 (1981) : 135-8.
- Singh, A., et al., "Magnesium, Zinc, and Copper Status of US Navy SEAL Trainees," Am J Clin Nutr 49.4 (1989) : 695-700.