ZMA is a supplement supposed to help to maintain healthy testosterone levels, but it’s not exactly a testosterone booster. Although it is controversial, ZMA ingredients are essential micronutrients. They play a pivotal role in your body’s hormonal balance.
Recommended ZMA Dosage
ZMA is made of:
- zinc as zinc monomethionine and aspartate (30 mg),
- magnesium as magnesium aspartate (450 mg), and
- vitamin B6 as pyridoxine hydrochloride (10.5 mg).
According to the National institutes of health the daily recommended amounts are:
- 11 mg of zinc,
- 400-420 mg of magnesium, and
- 1.3-1.7 mg of vitamin B6.
Be aware that you already consume these micronutrients within your food, so you shouldn’t take these amounts in form of a supplement.
ZMA research yielded mixed results, to say the least. The original study claiming that ZMA causes beneficial hormonal effects, studied 12 football players taking ZMA during 8 weeks. However, the study was funded by the company SNAC Systems Inc, which owns rights to the ZMA name (the formulation is not patented, but the name is registered).
There was definitely a clear case of a conflict of interests. Another study has not confirmed the optimistic results of the original study.
So what is the final verdict – does ZMA work? The key to understanding itsmechanism of action is to analyze ZMA ingredients.
Magnesium defficiency is uncommon because the body can prevent its excretion by the kidneys. However if there is not enough magnesium in the diet on a prolonged basis, the results can be a variety of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and of course a range of unpleasant symptomes including weakness, loss of appetite and fatigue. Even a diet moderately low in magnesium can yield unpleasant results. In an animal study rats have been fed such diet which resulted in an impaired lean mass growth.
Magnesium has been also proven to play role in testosterone production.
If there is magnesium deficiency testosterone leves are lower than normal (link to study). Supplementing magnesium will elevate testosterone up to its normal levels.
Zinc is also needed to maintain testosterone and as effect sperm production (link to study). Zinc deficiency results in dropping testosterone levels, increased apoptosis (cell death) and oxidative stress. Low levels of zinc will also affect serum levels of other necessary microelements. The correlation between micronutrient defficiency and hormonal imbalance is similar to magnesium and also to calcium.
Vitamin B6 defficiency has been also demonstrated to negatively influence blood testosterone levels. In this study rats have been fed vitamin B6 free diet which led to a significant reduction in the concentration of circulating testosterone.
Does ZMA Work?
What appears from the body of research is a quite consistent picture. If there is a testosterone deficiency caused by a lack or low concentrations of one of the above micronutrients ZMA will probably help to raise testosterone. If there is nothing missing in your body and you have normal testosterone levels ZMA may not be effective.
An interesting point is the relationship between the intestinal absorption of zinc and magnesium (link to study). Taking way too much zinc supplement will decrease magnesium absorption. In consequence one could develop magnesium defficiency. However you would need to seriously overdose zinc in order to suffer from this phenomenon.