ZMA, what is it, and what are the benefits?
ZMA is a popular supplement amongst the fitness community and is used by athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and bodybuilders. Otherwise known as Zinc Magnesium Aspartate, ZMA contains Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6.
Although research on ZMA is still emerging, we do have research showing the positive effects of each of these 3 key nutrients.
Improving strength, recovery, sleep, and supporting muscle growth to name a few. Stay tuned to see whether ZMA is the right supplement for you.
What is ZMA?
ZMA is a convenient supplement that contains 2 minerals (zinc and magnesium) and 1 vitamin (B6).
These are the typical values found in a high-quality ZMA supplement. As you can see, 1 daily serving provides you with more than 100% of each of the 3 nutrients, with vitamin B6 boosting a huge 750%!
What is ZMA?
Zinc is a trace mineral and is a co-factor for the production of over 300 enzymes involved in digestion, metabolism, and immunity.
When we work out, we sweat, it’s the body’s natural response to keep us cool. Zinc can be lost through our sweat, and if we’re sweating regularly, we may find that our levels of zinc in the body are low.
Low levels of zinc have been linked to low testosterone, and low Insulin-like growth factor, 2 hormones essential for muscle building and recovery.
Zinc also plays a vital role when it comes to immunity. One of the most overlooked components when it comes to our fitness goals, whether that’s losing fat or building muscle, is consistency. If we can remain consistent in our approach, we’re going to make progress. We can only be consistent if we’re healthy – that’s where zinc comes in!
The body’s ability to hold onto zinc isn’t great, that’s why we must consistently get it through our diet. Those eating a plant-based diet are even more likely to have a zinc deficiency, as zinc is mainly found in animal-based products. If that’s you, then it’s well worth considering a zinc supplement.
Magnesium is a key mineral that is involved in over 600 enzyme reactions in the body, including turning food into energy, protein synthesis, muscle and nerve functions, and regulating blood pressure.
Magnesium has been found to help induce sleep and increase sleep quality. It’s when we sleep that the body can recover from our workouts, so getting a good night’s sleep is vitally important.
Similar to Zinc, magnesium can be lost through sweat, meaning it’s not uncommon for an athlete to have low levels of magnesium.
Vitamin B6, otherwise known as pyridoxine is also responsible for the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
This powerful vitamin also helps in the creation of red blood cells. As red blood cells carry oxygen to our muscles, maximising red blood cell count is a priority amongst athletes. It allows for maximum performance and aids in recovery post-exercise.
Your body cannot produce vitamin B6 so you must obtain it from your diet and supplements.
What are the benefits of ZMA?
Now we know what ZMA is, it’s time to look at some of the benefits.
A 2013 study published in the Advanced pharmaceutical bulletin looked at the effect of Zinc supplementation on BMI and body weight.
The trial was carried out on 60 obese participants aged 18-45. 30 participants received 30mg of Zinc while the other 30 were given a placebo (a substance that doesn’t have any effect, without the participant knowing so).
The study concludes that those who supplemented Zinc saw positive improvements on BMI and body weight.
Although supplementing on ZMA can provide us with many health benefits, it’s not something we should rely on for our weight loss campaign. Instead, we need to be focusing on ensuring our diet is on point and that we’re putting ourselves in a calorie deficit – the key factor when it comes to weight loss.
Helps with sleep
Both zinc and magnesium have been shown to have positive effects on sleep.
Studies have shown that magnesium helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for making you feel relaxed. As a result, using a supplement before bed may make you fall asleep easier.
A 2017 study found that eating zinc-rich food improved sleep onset, as well as sleep efficiency in healthy individuals.
A good night's sleep is something all athletes should strive for as it’s when we’re sleeping that the body can recover, ready to go again the following day.
Zinc is a key trace element that is responsible for keeping your digestive, nervous, and immune systems healthy.
Zinc deficiency has been linked to several health concerns including pustular dermatitis, alopecia, hypogonadism, and more.
Therefore, for people with low levels of zinc, it’s worth considering a zinc-based supplement.
Vitamin B6 is a vital component in the production of white blood cells in the body. As it’s these white blood cells that fight off bacteria, we should aim to keep B6 levels optimum so that we can remain healthy.
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a key driver in chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. This same inflammation also has an impact on the aging process.
Controls Blood Sugar Levels
Both magnesium and zinc have been found to help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.
A systematic review was conducted to discover the effects of magnesium supplementation on insulin resistance. 12 studies were found to fit the criteria and were included for analysis.
The results found that magnesium may play a role in improving blood sugar control in people with diabetes. It does this by improving the body's ability to use insulin, the hormone responsible for moving sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells.
A 2015 study reports that the depletion of zinc negatively impacts insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.
It has been shown that supplementing with zinc improves glucose homeostasis in patients with diabetes.
The regulation of blood sugar levels between the target ranges is important to help prevent long-term health conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, and vision loss.
When to take ZMA
For the best results, it’s recommended that you supplement on ZMA 30-60 minutes before bed. This allows us to take full advantage of the sleep-inducing effects of the different nutrients.
It’s recommended that you don’t eat or drink anything containing calcium before taking ZMA. This is so that the Zinc does not compete with the calcium for absorption as zinc may reduce how calcium is absorbed in the intestines.
ZMA – The Verdict
Although more research is needed on ZMA and the effects it has on muscle building, weight loss, and endurance, what we do know is that individually the 3 components, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 all play important roles to ensure the body stays healthy and performs optimally.
It’s important to keep each at a healthy level, so if you struggle to get enough of each of the elements from food sources alone, then a ZMA supplement could be for you.
Check out our 5-star reviewed ZMA supplement. At only £15.99 for 60 servings, that works out to be an amazing 54p per serving!
The Author – Robor Fitness
Robor Fitness is a revolutionary fitness clothing line that provides affordable activewear for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. We offer a range of on-trend activewear that not only looks good but keeps up with performance. Head over to www.roborfitness.com to see more!