If you’ve been following my reviews, you might’ve noticed that a lot of testosterone boosting supplements have Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6.
This should come as no surprise because the pairing of these three is legendary in the testosterone boosting industry and as a whole, is called the ZMA trio. Now you might wonder where the “A” in ZMA comes from. With Vitamin B6, shouldn’t it be ZMV or ZMB? That’s a valid question. Let me explain.
When the term ZMA was coined, the maker(s) didn’t actually include Vitamin B6 in the acronym. ZMA stands for Zinc Magnesium Asparate or Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate. The next question should be, why did they only use Zinc and Magnesium in their branding? Let’s check out this legend’s history.
The original blend of ZMA was made by BALCO labs – an American company situated in Burlingame, California founded and owned by Victor Conte. The company was in business for urine and blood analysis and helped athletes by screening them for mineral deficiencies. In their results, they found out that there was a widespread deficiency in Zinc and Magnesium. Actually, according to Victor Conte’s colleague Jim Vallente, they’ve already tested around 250 NFL players at that time and around 70% of them were depleted of either Zinc or Magnesium.
Minerals are easily washed off our bodies with sweat and as we already know, athletes sweat a lot so really, what they’re saying makes sense.
Studies and research around ZMA was conducted and funded by SNAC Systems Inc. However, one of the authors of the study was Victor Conte himself. He also has ownership equity in this company. This is a problem because in research, the same company should not conduct studies on their own products because it may result to conflicts in interest and may skew the results of the study.
Speaking of studies, we’ll be talking about the individual effects of each of the three elements used in the ZMA combo.
ZINC, MAGNESIUM, AND VITAMIN B6
Surely, there are other vitamins and minerals that are essential to the human body but what makes Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6 so important to male health?
This might be the absolute best mineral for promoting male health. Zinc owes its reputation in large part due to the multiple evidences that shows its multi-angled approach to boosting testosterone and other aspects of masculinity.
This particular research gave different doses of Zinc to their volunteers. At study’s end, they found out that the “Zinc depleted” dose suffered a decrease in seminal volume and testosterone levels.
Another study states that Zinc supplementation raised levels of testosterone regardless if the athlete was at rest or exhausted. Additionally, the study observed that heavy exercise lead to a dip in testosterone concentrations but Zinc played a role in inhibiting the T-depleting effects of exercise.
One other study showed that Zinc supplementation raised levels of testosterone and sperm count in men being regularly treated with hemodialysis.
As a whole, Zinc looks to be a universal testosterone booster. It doesn’t matter if the person is sick or healthy, young or old. Virtually everyone can benefit from Zinc when they want their testosterone boosted.
This mineral is involved in over 300 metabolic processes including muscle and nerve functions.
A study states that magnesium administration raised levels of testosterone in both active and sedentary individuals. Additionally, the increase in testosterone was observed to be greater when Magnesium supplementation was paired with exercise.
Another study aimed to shed light on the effects of magnesium on the anabolic hormones such as testosterone, SHBG, IGF-1, and DHEA on older men. The results of the study showed a positive correlation between these hormones.
This rat study shows that Vitamin B6 depletion lead to significant reductions in levels of testosterone. At the end of the study, the researches said that “Vitamin B6 deficient animals have either a reduced rate of synthesis of testosterone or an increased rate of metabolic clearance”.
To add, another study gave high doses of Vitamin B6 to rats and found out that there was no significant change to levels of testosterone.
Combining the results of both of these studies, a healthy dose of this B vitamin is essential to maintaining healthy levels of testosterone. Consequently, it doesn’t necessarily boost testosterone in healthy individuals but it may return testosterone to healthy levels in men who’re suffering from low T.
ZMA: MY ANALYSIS
As you can see, all three parts of the ZMA trio are essential to healthy levels of testosterone. However, how do they fair when they’re paired together?
This research conducted by Dr. Lorrie Brilla and the infamous Victor Conte is one of the most cited researches when discussing ZMA. This is a double-blind, placebo-controlled test wherein 27 football players took part. The results of the research states that the group given ZMA had 11.6% greater muscle gains and a 30% increase in testosterone compared to the placebo group. Regardless if Victor Conte was one of the researchers, this is a good sign for ZMA.
However, another study involving a larger sample of 42 trained males shows that ZMA did not work.
This raises the concern about ZMA’s consistency. However, there is a theory that negates this concern. The participants in the second study might’ve had higher levels of Zinc and Magnesium compared to the participants in Dr. Brilla’s study.Which then leads me to conclude that yes, ZMA does work in boosting testosterone and enhancing athletic prowess. However, the results of ZMA administration are reliant upon the initial levels of Zinc and Magnesium. In general though, a huge number of the male population do have deficiencies in this mineral so most of the time, ZMA should work like a charm.
Additionally, the original blend of ZMA by BALCO doesn’t use the best forms. Zinc is given at Mono-L-Methionine Aspartate at 30 mg. This is a heavy dose but the form could be upgraded to Citrate for better bioavailability. The same could be said for Magnesium being given at Magnesium Aspartate form at 450 mg. Magnesium Citrate is also the better form here. For Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine HCL is fine but P-5-P would’ve done this stack wonders.I just can’t help but imagine the potential of these supplements if they were given at their best forms and dosages.
ZMA: SIDE EFFECTS
Yup, there are side effects to taking ZMA. However, ZMA is generally well-tolerated and safe. If anything, these side effects can actually be viewed as signs that it’s working.
Technically, any supplement that aims to alter hormonal levels would almost always lead to minor side effects. As such, a supplement free of side effects may also be a sign of ineffectiveness. That said, here are some of the minor side effects of ZMA:
- Sleep Apnea
- Vivid Dreams
If you’ve noticed, most of the side effects here are with regards to sleeping. Additionally, because ZMA does deal with hormones (Zinc especially), it can sometimes lead to prostate problems if you’ve had too much. As with anything, take it at the right amounts and take care not to have too much.
To end this discussion, I’m going to have to repeat myself.
ZMA works. It enhances manliness by boosting testosterone, bolstering anabolic growth, aids in muscle recovery, and helps rock you to sleep. It’s a great bodybuilding supplement overall.
However, it’s not for everyone. Only people with already low levels of Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6 can benefit from this stack. You know what, though? Around 61% of the adult population is suffering from Magnesium deficiency. In essence, majority should be able to benefit from ZMA supplementation.