Alright, my supplewhat readers. Supplereaders? Eh, why not. Anyway, I was requested by my number one fan/hair stylist to do a post on ZMA.
How exciting! My first reader-requested article!
Okay, so, let’s begin.
What is it? ZMA is a combination of three ingredients: Zinc monomethionine, Vitamin B6, and Magnesium Aspartate. This combination is touted by many to not only greatly enhance sleep, but also work as a natural testosterone booster and even increase anabolism (Growth/Muscle growth).
ZMA was first formulated by Victor Conte, who seems to have a bit of a shady history. He appears to have committed conspiracy to distribute steroids as well as some good ol’ fashioned money laundering. Because of this, he was convicted and sentenced. Anyway, this isn’t related to ZMA, but just something to provide a glimpse of the man. Here’s his company, SNAC, as well as his patented ZMA formula. He makes some rather bold claims on this page. Such as: “Increases anabolic hormone production,” “significantly improves muscle strength and endurance as well as increase healing and tissue repair,” and even “You grow as you sleep.”
A testosterone booster and a magnificent sleep enhancer? Can it really be so magical? With these assertions he is making, you would think that ZMA has been sent forth by the gym gods of Brolympus.
He even mentions a University study on ZMA. This one to be more exact. The results of this study concluded increases in testosterone, IGF-1, and some substantial gains in muscular strength in the subjects who used ZMA compared to the placebo group. Seems pretty legit, right?
Now, does it do that?
We’ll get to that. First, Let’s break down the individual ingredients and plunge face first into the nitty-gritty.
ISN’T THIS EXCITING?!
*Ahem* Sorry, I have a hard time containing myself when I begin talking about supplements.
Enough delay! So let us begin with Zinc monomethionine. Zinc is a trace mineral that we get regularly within our diets and can be found in high concentrations in delicious foods like oysters. The difference between this form of zinc and forms such as picolinate, is that this one is attached to Methionine, which is a type of amino acid.
The main testosterone-enhancing benefits from ZMA are said to come from Zinc. It appears that Zinc CAN increase testosterone, but only in those who have low testosterone due to a zinc deficiency. Zinc is lost through sweat, so those who regularly sweat excessive amounts, as well as those who have a low intake through their diet, would be at risk. Athletes would be a potential risk so it would be beneficial to them to make sure that it is regularly supplemented.
According to this study, supplementing with zinc helped prevent a decrease of circulating testosterone caused by strenuous exercise over a period of time, whereas not supplementing with zinc resulted in lower circulating testosterone. It didn’t necessarily increase testosterone, but it helped prevent testosterone from declining.
Even though vitamin B6 is a water-soluble B-vitamin, it appears that excessive dosing of vitamin B6 over an extended period of time can be extremely dangerous. Upwards of 200mg a day for months can lead to neurological disorders because of damage to the dorsal root ganglion, which brings information from the extremities (Legs, arms) to the spinal cord. It seems this only occurs with the synthetic form of B6 and not the B6 you get from food.
Next, we make our way to vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is from the B-complex. A group of water-soluble vitamins that are necessary for an array of processes within our bodies. Vitamin B6, in particular, is necessary for over 100 processes. Although B6 has minor benefits, It appears that there isn’t a substantial benefit to supplementing B6. The “weird crazy” dreams that users report getting could potentially be from B6. It’s thought that it could be from how B6 interacts with serotonin production, but the level of evidence so far is pretty weak.
Now, we land on Magnesium Aspartate. In this form, Magnesium is bound to the amino acid Aspartic Acid. Magnesium is the bodies second most abundant mineral and is utilized in over 300 processes, but has little evidence that it increases testosterone levels. It does have a sedative effect when supplemented so it could help with relaxing before going to bed.
Magnesium can help you poop too. So there’s that.
Okay, so there is a lot more that I would like to cover, but I’m going to go ahead and end this post here and make this a two-part series. This is going to be a lot longer than I intended, but with the research that I’ve gathered on this, I feel that it is necessary.
We’ll get to learn more about the dastardly Victor Conte (His name sounds rather villainous) in part two of ZMA!
Who doesn’t love a great cliffhanger, right?
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Click here for part two!