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What is ZMA?  ZMA stands for Zinc l-monomethionine aspartate and is a special blend of: Zinc 30mg (as l-monmethionine and aspartate), Magnesium 450mg (as aspartate), and Vitamin B6 10.5mg (as pyridoxine HCL).  ZMA is useful for all athletes as it helps to guard against depletion, of these three important minerals, and vitamins, that often occurs following intense or prolonged training.


Who might benefit from ZMA supplements?  Anyone looking to improve their rate of recovery, reduce the risk of overtraining, increase muscle size and strength should benefit from ZMA supplements.


Summary of ZMA's Physiological effects:

  • Significantly increases the level of free testosterone

  • Prevents IGF-1 (Insulin growth factor) levels from decreasing during intense training

  • Increases strength gains

  • Reduces muscle cramps

  • Improves recovery


What does research say about ZMA?  This special combination of vitamins and minerals has also been demonstrated to prevent the exercise induced drop in testosterone levels that often occurs following intense periods of training (Brilla and Conte, 1999).  Brilla and Conte, 1999, studied the effect of ZMA on American footballers. The footballers were divided into two groups, one taking ZMA and one took a "dummy" (placebo) supplement that would have no physiological effect.  The ZMA group showed a 33.5% increase in free testosterone and a 32.4% increase in total testosterone levels whereas there was a decrease in testosterone levels in the placebo group.  The ZMA group also showed a 3.6% increase in the levels of IGF-1 (insulin growth factor) whereas IGF-1 levels decreased by 21.5% in the placebo group.   

The positive effects on hormone levels in the ZMA group led to an 11.6% increase in strength over the 8 weeks of the study. This was a 252% greater gain in strength than was experienced in the placebo group. It is the positive effects on maintaining the hormone levels following intense training that make ZMA an appealing supplement for athletes.  This should help to improve recovery between sessions and help to reduce the risk of overtraining.   

It should also be noted that Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6 all have positive effects on mood and may help to alleviate the low feeling sometimes experienced during heavy training. 

Many companies claim to have ZMA products, but unless they contain the specific types, shown above, of the minerals zinc and magnesium and vitamin B6 and in the above dose specification; then they are not using the correct formulation that was used in the above research and should not be making claims comparing their products to the original research. 


Is ZMA effective?  ZMA has proven to be effective at increasing strength gains, free testosterone levels, and recovery from exercise.


How should I take ZMA?  It is recommended that you take the above dose of ZMA last thing at night on an empty stomach. 



Brilla, L. R. and Conte, V. (1999) A novel zinc and magnesium formulation (ZMA) increases anabolic hormones and strength in athletes. Medicine and Science in sports and Exercise, 31, 483. 

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Last modified: 01/05/06