Introduction to ZMA

ZMA is a combination of Zinc, vitamin B6 and magnesium asparate. It is a natural product which has been proven to increase muscle strength in trained athletes, and since it is also very affordable, is there any real reason why you aren’t using it?

Why do I Need ZMA?

Zinc is an important part of many of the body’s metabolic processes, and as an athlete it is likely that you will have depleted levels of zinc as a result of the increased sweating that occurs when you train. Zinc deficiencies may lead to decreased performance and can also hinder the proper function of the immune system. Zinc is also an important factor in protein synthesis and cell regeneration (growth), and without it, the body’s levels of testosterone will fall.

On a par with Zinc is magnesium, which is also involved in a vast array of metabolic reactions. Magnesium is essential for proper function of the immune system, strong bones, a healthy Central Nervous System (CNS) and is also required for each any every muscle contraction in the body. A lack of magnesium in the diet can cause sleep disruption, but more seriously, may lead to insulin insensitivity.

Vitamin B6 is used by the body to convert protein into a source of energy. It also works with vitamin B12 and Folic acid to reduce the levels of certain amino acids in the bloodstream, which reduces the risk of cardiac arrest.

We can see from the above text that these three minerals are pretty important to the human body, and that is without all of the extra stresses that we are putting on our bodies through bodybuilding. When packaged together, these three minerals provide an even more powerful effect…

The Effects of ZMA

As well as being essential to the proper function of the body, ZMA also has some benefits which are well suited to bodybuilding:

  • Reduced Catabolism. Lifting weights tears muscle fibres, and these muscle fibres need to be repaired. This process of repair, known as the recovery phase, lasts for many hours after you leave the gym. Without the constant supply of nutrition that it requires, your body will enter a state of catabolism in which it breaks down its own tissue to be used as an energy source. Catabolism can also arise during long periods without food, such as during sleep. The body can only enter an anabolic state (the phase when muscles are repaired and grow) once you are no longer catabolic. ZMA has been shown to drastically reduce catabolic effects during training, and so will help your body to stay anabolic.
  • Enhanced Hormonal Profile. The evidence most used to support the effects of ZMA was carried out by Doctor Lorrie Brilla at Western Washington University. During the study, 12 athletes were asked to take ZMA nightly for an 8 week long sprint training program, and 12 others were unknowingly given a placebo. The results clearly showed that the athletes who had been subject to the ZMA had approximately 2.5 times more gains in muscle mass than the control group. The ZMA group also showed a 30% increase in the hormone Testosterone, while then control group showed only a 10% increase.
  • Boosted Immune System. The fact that zinc helps to boost the function of the immune system is a well researched and well documented one. A zinc deficiency will lead to an increase in the length of time it takes to get over colds, can lead to a loss of appetite and even muscle wastage.

How Much ZMA Should I Take?

Along with all other vitamins and minerals, zinc can be found in abundance in the everyday foods that we eat. The following foods are especially high in zinc:

  • Red meats.
  • Nuts.
  • Shellfish.
  • Eggs.

The zinc found in red meats, shellfish and eggs has a good bio-availability as a direct result of the presence of the amino acids methionine and cysteine which increase the body’s rate of zinc uptake considerably. Zinc can also be found in large quantities in some plant proteins and grain products, but these sources are considered to have a very low bio-availability due to the high quantities of phytic acid that they contain. Phytic acid inhibits the absorption of zinc.

Magnesium can be found in:

  • Nuts.
  • Bananas.
  • Brown rice.
  • Milk.

Some examples of food containing vitamin B6 are:

  • Bananas.
  • Potatoes.
  • Turkey.
  • Fortified cereal.
  • Salmon.

ZMA supplements can be very effective, but might not be necessary if you eat a good balanced diet, in which case, all of your vitamins and minerals will be sourced from your food.

The recommended quantities of each ZMA ingredient that you should ingest daily, are as follows:


Zinc 30mg 
Magnesium 450mg
Vitamin B6  11mg 

ZMA Recommended Ingredient Quantities.

Are There any Risks With ZMA?

There are no known negative effects from ZMA as it is an entirely natural supplement.

As with any supplement, taking too much will cause things to go wrong, and this definitely rings tru with ZMA. Obtaining more than 350mg of zinc in supplement form can (and often will) lead to diarrhea.

Overdosing on vitamin B6 can lead to toxicity which poses the risk of neurological side effects, but you would need to be taking in excess of 100mg per day for this to happen.

Overdosing on zinc can lead to a deficiency of copper, but only when 100mg or more is consumed daily.


ZMA is a cheap, natural supplement which can be taken to enhance your body’s levels of three of the key vitamins/minerals in bodybuilding.

It can be used around 30 mins before bed to improve the quality of your sleep. As sleep is when your body does much of its’ growing, better sleep can only be a good thing. It can also be used to raise levels of testosterone in the body, and to improve the function of the immune system.

ZMA has little or no risk associated with it, unless it is unnecessarily abused.

Is there a space in your stack for ZMA?

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