ZMA (Zinc monomethionine aspartate and Magnesium Aspartate) is a supplement used most often by bodybuilders and athletes.
It is a combination of two minerals, zinc and magnesium, and vitamin B6. All three of these compounds are important in biological processes, and while studies have shown that most Americans get enough zinc and vitamin B6, more than 50% do not meet the U.S. government’s recommendation for magnesium.
Magnesium is especially important for those individuals who workout on a daily basis because an increase in exercise can lead to the loss of vital vitamins and minerals, especially magnesium which helps oxygenate muscle tissues, which in turn helps build muscle size, endurance and strength.
The fitness and bodybuilding world has often looked towards supplements to help build lean muscle mass, decrease body fat, and aid in the recovery of muscles post workout.
In the past ten years, ZMA has come into the marketplace and turned the world of bodybuilding supplements on its head. This product was developed by Balco Labs specifically to meet the needs of professional bodybuilders, or those who wish to increase their lean muscle mass. Therefore, individuals on a strict bodybuilding diet, which limits calcium-containing dairy products such as cheese, are most likely to derive the full benefits of ZMA.
ZMA Helps Bodybuilders and Athletes in The Following Manner:
- ZMA speeds up the healing process of muscle tissues and thus lessens recovery time after exercise.
- ZMA increases testosterone levels.
- ZMA promotes better sleep.
- ZMA decreases muscle cramping.
- ZMA increases levels of human growth hormone (HGH)
Benefits of ZMA
- Zinc is found in a variety of foods including red meats, seafood, and fortified cereals. It supports the body’s immune system and nerve function.
- Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, Brazil nuts, almonds, soybeans, halibut, and Quinoa. It helps with maintaining a regular heart rhythm, muscle and nerve function, and bone strength.
- Vitamin B6 is found in fortified cereals and soy products. It is important for maintaining the function of the nervous system and helps to metabolize proteins and sugars.
- Those that have taken ZMA have commented on its ability to allow their body to rest and recover after a workout and help them feel energized when they wake up. Others have noted an increase in the quality of sleep that they have received as a result.
Side Effects of ZMA
- It is possible, but difficult, to overdose on ZMA.
- Overdosing on zinc can lead to an increased dietary requirement for copper which can cause toxic symptoms.
- Similarly, overdosing on magnesium can lead to diarrhea.
- Overdosing on Vitamin B6 can lead to peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain in the hands and feet).
The proportion of ingredients used in ZMA supplements is 20-30 mg zinc, 400-500 mg magnesium and 10mg vitamin B6, which are well within the safe limits. Therefore, it is important that you follow all label directions when taking ZMA.
ZMA should never be taken with foods containing calcium, as calcium blocks the absorption of zinc. Likewise any supplement that has calcium in it should be avoided.
Please consult your doctor before using this or any other supplement as all supplements are known to interact dangerously with various medications.
1. Effects of Zinc Magnesium Aspartate (ZMA) Supplementation on Training Adaptations and Markers of Anabolism and Catabolism, Wilborn, Kerksick, et al., Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 1(2):12-20, 2004
2. Serum testosterone and urinary excretion of steroid hormone metabolites after administration of a high-dose zinc supplement, Koehler, Parr, et al., European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009) 63, 65–70; doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602899; published online 19 September 2007