Supplements with zinc and magnesium or ZMA are well-known sports supplements among athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts. Most brands are made up of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
This article reviews the benefits, side effects, contraindications, and how to take ZMA supplements.
What are ZMA supplements?
ZMA Zinc Magnesium Supplements are a type of supplement high in zinc and magnesium in the form of salts.
The most common forms are zinc monomethionine and magnesium aspartate. In addition, they usually have vitamin B6 in the form of hydrochloride.
However, some manufacturers produce ZMA supplements in alternative forms or combinations with more added vitamins or minerals. The composition of ZMA supplements is:
- Zinc. A necessary micromineral that participates in cellular respiration, hormone synthesis, muscle movement, and digestion. ZMA supplements generally contain 100% of the required amount of zinc in 2 tablets.
- Magnesium. This nutrient is essential for the muscular and nervous systems. When exercising regularly, higher amounts of magnesium are needed; it is one of the athletes’ most common nutritional deficiencies. Although it can be provided through foods with magnesium, ZMA supplements are one way to reach the recommended daily amount. (1)
- Vitamin B6. This water-soluble vitamin is necessary to improve the absorption of iron and the synthesis of neurotransmitters and allow the proper functioning of the enzymes in our body. In athletes, the needs for vitamin B6 are higher. This is because it participates in the transformation of muscle glycogen into glucose.
What are zinc and magnesium supplements for? – Profits
Research that has studied the effects of ZMA supplements has confirmed that they may benefit the body. In particular for athletes who are lacking in any of these macronutrients. (1,2,3)
According to studies, consuming higher amounts of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 in athletes can help to ensure the complete synthesis of hormones and increase the indicators of muscle strength. In addition, it can have other additional benefits, such as strengthening the immune system and improving mood. The benefits of taking ZMA supplements are:
- Improve strength indicators
Taking ZMA daily increased muscle strength in a study with soccer players significantly. (5) In the participants, the strength of the large muscles of the legs (quadriceps) increased by up to 20%.
- They can improve muscle growth.
A lack of these minerals can reduce the production of hormones related to muscle growth. Athletes have been shown to lose a more significant amount of zinc and magnesium through sweat. (4) Taking ZMA supplements helps reduce this effect.
- They can reduce muscle fatigue.
One of the potential effects of ZMA supplements is to reduce muscle fatigue in sports. Although it is one of the benefits that still needs more studies to be proven, the preliminary results are positive. (3,4)
- Improve the immune system
Zinc is essential for the production of many immune cells. Supplementing this mineral can reduce the risk of infections and aid wound healing. (6)
- Prevent inflammation
Magnesium supplements can reduce inflammation markers, including C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). (7) For this reason, it can be said that one of the additional benefits of taking ZMA is preventing inflammation.
How to take ZMA? – Recommended amount per day
It is recommended to take a dose of ZMA equivalent to:
- 30 mg zinc monomethionine aspartate
- 450 mg of magnesium aspartate
- 11mg of vitamin B6
The usual thing is to take 1 or 2 tablets, depending on the dose of the product per day. Ideally, 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime on an empty stomach; is to enhance the effects on falling asleep.
Also, zinc and magnesium supplements should not be taken with calcium-rich foods or supplements. This is because one of the effects of calcium is to block zinc absorption. (10)
Side effects and contraindications
Taking ZMA supplements in moderate amounts is considered safe. However, zinc and magnesium can have mild to severe side effects in high doses. The possible side effects of ZMA are:
- Altered nutrient assimilation
- Loss of appetite
- Numbness of the hands
Also, both zinc and magnesium can interact with medications. If you are taking any medications, pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your doctor if you can take ZMA supplements. Also, avoid taking more than the recommended amount per day. The contraindications of Zuma’s are:
- Take antibiotics and diuretics
- Pregnant and lactating women
- People under treatment for osteoporosis and heart disease
- Taking anticonvulsant medications: valproic acid, carbamazepine.
ZMA and testosterone
The relationship between ZMA supplements and testosterone is not direct. It is not a fact that when taking ZMA, the levels of the male sex hormone increase in 100% of cases.
Supplementation with zinc and magnesium effectively increases testosterone levels as long as these minerals are deficient in the diet. (1,2,3,4)
Zinc and magnesium are two minerals necessary for the production of testosterone. And both nutrients are lost through sweat and urine. Athletes who do not include foods with magnesium and zinc in their diet often need supplements to regulate testosterone levels.
Zinc, Magnesium, and Melatonin – An effective treatment for insomnia
Taking a combination of zinc, magnesium, and melatonin supplements can be used to treat insomnia. (9)
In a study where nurses were supplemented with zinc, the sleep quality and duration results were significantly higher than those that took a placebo. (8)
As for magnesium, it has been confirmed that one of its benefits is activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for helping the body calm down and relax.
Melatonin is also called a sleep hormone. When night falls, its values rise, allowing a person to fall asleep. When under stress, this process is not fulfilled and can cause insomnia.
Taking melatonin in supplements is an effective strategy for better sleep. The main advantage of melatonin over psychotropic drugs is that it has practically no side effects and contraindications.
ZMA supplements are made up of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Its effects on improving strength indicators and testosterone synthesis have been proven only when there is a lack of these micronutrients in the diet. One of its additional benefits is strengthening the immune system and preventing inflammation.
Taking ZMA supplements in moderate amounts is considered safe. In excess, they can cause severe or mild side effects. The contraindications of taking supplements with zinc and magnesium are combining it with antibiotic medications, diuretics for pressure, and treatments for seizures and osteoporosis; nor is it recommended for pregnant and lactating women.