One of the most talked about supplements recently is ZMA. But what exactly is this supplement, and what does it do? More importantly, does it work? Here is why I think this is one supplement everyone should try.
ZMA is a synergistic blend of two minerals, zinc and magnesium, and a vitamin, Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine. All three of these compounds are extremely important in biological processes, and USDA studies have shown that less than 70% of Americans get enough zinc, and less than 40% get enough magnesium. It has also been shown that increased exercise can lead to losses of vitamins and minerals. Zinc is particularly important from a bodybuilding standpoint due to its role in testosterone production. The old story about oysters being an aphrodisiac is probably related to the fact that they are high in zinc. Low levels of zinc and magnesium have a strong adverse effect on muscle growth . So, it's obvious that people need these minerals and vitamins. What makes ZMA different is the form of the zinc, and the ratio in which it is combined with magnesium and pyridoxine.
A recent study showed that zinc in the form of zinc monomethionine aspartate combined with magnesium aspartate and Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) when given to training athletes resulted in 43.7% higher testosterone levels and 25% greater IGF-1 levels, as well as a 2.5 times greater strength increase than a placebo group . What this means is that taking this supplement over a period of eight weeks gave the subjects higher testosterone levels and greater strength increases than the people not taking ZMA.
Since ZMA contains minerals you might not be getting enough of anyway, and you definitely need, it seems to be a winning supplement. An important thing to note is that the zinc and magnesium must be in the aspartate form, not the chelate, sulfate, or citrate form commonly found in multivitamins. The ratio is also extremely important. There should be 11 mg of Vitamin B-6, 30 mg of the zinc monomethionine aspartate, and 450 mg of the magnesium aspartate per serving. (This is why you should just buy a ZMA supplement instead of individual magnesium and zinc supplements.) This supplement should never be taking with calcium, as calcium blocks absorption, and any ZMA that has calcium in it should be avoided. ZMA should also be taken before bed on an empty stomach.
I tried this supplement for six weeks, and while it's not a miracle supplement, I like the results. I've gained about five pounds with no other supplements that my usual multivitamin, flax oil, and weight gainer. Five pounds in six weeks for a hardgainer isn't bad, and that is a definite improvement that I think the ZMA had at least something to do with. The only side effects I've noticed are increased acne. I plan on adding ZMA to my usually supplement regimen.
All in all, ZMA seems like a great supplement. You're getting a synergistic blend of vitamin and minerals you need anyway, in a blend has been shown to increase testosterone levels and strength gains. It's also quite cost effective with Twinlab's ZMA Fuel being one of the best available. Overall, I definitely recommend ZMA.