ZMA: What It Is, Benefits, How to Take and Side Effects

ZMA: What It Is, Benefits, How to Take and Side Effects / Supplements

The ZMA is yet another supplement available in the market that promises to aid in the results of bodybuilders and bodybuilders and is gaining space in the fitness environment.

We now turn to several aspects of the supplement, explaining what it is, what its benefits are, how to take it and what the possible side effects of ZMA.

What is ZMA?

ZMA is a food supplement composed of zinc monomethionine aspartate, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6. The best-selling brands generally have a composition of 11 mg of vitamin B6, 450 mg of magnesium and 30 mg of zinc. The forms attached to aspartate are to enhance absorption.

The combination aims to improve strength performance, metabolism, recovery and building muscle mass and hormone production in athletes trained through the enhanced supply of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6.

Its use has been shown to bring a number of benefits, let's understand the following are.

What are the benefits of ZMA?

The supply of zinc and magnesium is the key point of ZMA's action.

Zinc is a mineral that acts as a cofactor for various enzymes in the body, which means that many biochemical processes triggered by these enzymes depend on the availability of zinc. One such process is the synthesis of muscle proteins, making zinc extremely important for muscle recovery and growth.

Magnesium is also an essential mineral that participates in the cardiac function and transport of neurotransmitters essential for muscle function, as well as help maintain balance of sodium and potassium in the various tissues of the body. It is estimated that a large portion of the population is not able to achieve daily optimal amounts of magnesium in the diet.

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In addition to zinc and magnesium, ZMA also contains vitamin B6. This vitamin, also known as pyridoxine, acts on the metabolism of amino acids, which are the fundamental units of proteins, which in turn, are the structural constitution of muscle mass.

From this, many effects of the ZMA on the physical results of athletes were investigated. We will detail each one of them next.

1. Prevention of Nutritional Deficiency

The first benefit that ZMA can bring is to avoid deficiency in zinc and magnesium supply. In many people, athletes and non-athletes, deficiencies of these minerals may be found, since dietary sources may not be very common in daily consumption or not consumed in sufficient quantities.

Zinc can be obtained from oysters, crab, red meat and pork. Meat, for example, can be avoided by many athletes who opt for white meats, oysters and crabs are rarely a frequent part of any diet.

Magnesium is found in dark green vegetables, some fruits, fish and whole grains, but even with more common sources, reaching the appropriate levels of the mineral can be difficult.

Ensuring that the body has the adequate supply of these nutrients is the first step towards an adequate metabolism, able to function in the best possible way to respond to training and dietary stimuli.

2. Immune System Improvement

According to a study by the Wayne State University School of Medicine, zinc supplementation helps keep the immune system strong, reduce oxidative stress and inflammation and thereby fight disease. In contrast, mineral deficiency can prolong the duration of colds. In addition to helping to defend the body, ZMA can help prevent diseases, even if common as a cold, that disrupt the routine of training and quality of life.

3. Replacement of zinc lost during exercise

Through sweat, the body can lose 8 to 9% of the recommended daily intake. Therefore, exercising can reduce the availability of the mineral and lead to its deficiency. One study has shown that iron loss is much lower, about 1 to 3%, it is believed that the body uses mechanisms to prevent its loss which would not occur with zinc.

In this way, ZMA supplementation helps to restore the zinc lost by athletes through perspiration.

4. Possibility of increasing testosterone levels

In a study by a University of Washington, USA, along with the brand that developed the ZMA, athletes soccer players received ZMA or placebo supplementation during 8 weeks of training. A 30% increase in testosterone levels was identified in the ZMA group while in the placebo group this increase was 10%. The increase in strength was also 2.5 times greater in the ZMA group.

This indicates that ZMA may affect hormone synthesis in some way, which is critical for building lean body mass. However, other research has not shown any interference of ZMA in the levels and metabolism of testosterone in individuals with adequate zinc supply, however, it is proven that low levels of zinc can cause loss of muscle mass and strength.

Thus, more studies are needed to confirm this effect of ZMA.

5. Improving sleep quality

Magnesium has the ability to normalize and extend phases 3 and 4 of sleep, which are the stages of deep sleep, extremely necessary for rest of body and mind, as well as the production of important hormones such as growth hormone (GH ), whose effect is very beneficial for muscle building. Thus, ZMA improves sleep quality, helps refresh after a day of work and training, and helps increase GH levels.

6. Regulation of production of thyroid hormones

Thyroid hormones play a key role in regulating the metabolism of the whole body, and its deficiency reduces the basal metabolism and makes it very difficult to lose fat. Research has shown that zinc supplementation can normalize the levels of these hormones in both athletes and sedentary people, while their deficiency leads to low levels of thyroid hormones.

7. Reduction of catabolism

It is believed that both zinc and magnesium can help reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone with catabolic effects, that are responsible for the breakdown of muscle tissue. In a survey conducted in Germany with triathletes, athletes who took magnesium for 4 weeks had healthier levels of cortisol than those who took placebo.

Avoiding catabolism is very important so that there is no loss of lean mass or muscular performance.

How to Take ZMA?

The ZMA should be taken from 30 minutes to an hour before the time of going to bed at night. This schedule is strategic to harnessing the effect of magnesium on sleep quality. In general, it is recommended to be taken on an empty stomach to improve absorption. It is also not recommended to take ZMA with foods or supplements that contain calcium as it will impair the absorption of zinc.

The recommended dose for men is usually 3 capsules, which for most brands provides 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium and 10 mg of vitamin B6. For women, the recommendation on the labels is 2 capsules. Seek the advice of a nutritionist as he is the professional enabled to tailor the supplements and dosages to your individual needs.

What are the Side Effects of ZMA?

In general there are no side effects of ZMA if ingested in the correct amounts. A factor of attention should be for people who already use medications, such as (but not exclusively) for the treatment of cardiac diseases, for osteoporosis and antibiotics, since there may be interaction, changing their action. So if you use any medicine, the important thing is to consult your doctor before starting ZMA supplementation.

At high doses, above those recommended by manufacturers, there may be some consequences. Magnesium doses greater than 450 mg daily can lead to sleep disorders and as well as excess zinc can cause diarrhea, nausea, and cramps.

Doses of vitamin B6 above 100 mg daily also cause side effects, leading to neurological consequences.

Zinc, when it exceeds daily doses of 60 mg, can lead to copper deficiency. When high doses are maintained for long periods of time, immunity and good cholesterol levels (HDL) may be decreased. In one study, men who ingested 100 mg of zinc through supplements for 10 years had a greater chance of developing prostate cancer, but the reason was not clear.

We conclude, therefore, that ingestion at the appropriate doses will not cause known side effects, being a generally safe supplement.

The controversies surrounding the ZMA

To date, only 3 studies have been published on the investigation of the effects of ZMA on athletes. What showed the action of the formula on the improvement of physical performance was one in which the company holding the patent participated. The others failed to find the same positive correlation between ZMA supplementation and the results found by the former. This generated a great controversy on the subject. The International Sports Nutrition Society has stated that the effect of ZMA on muscle building is unknown and the Australian Sports Institute stated that further studies are needed to confirm its benefits.

In this way, the best option is to talk to a doctor or nutritionist to understand whether or not you can benefit from the use of this supplement.Many people use and enjoy and others do not feel effects, so you can decide with the health professional if it is worth testing.

Do you know anyone who uses ZMA supplementation and gotten good results? Feel like experiencing these benefits? Comment below!