Some are delighted with this supplement of sports nutrition, others consider it a waste of money, while others even claim that this drug causes disturbances in the brain. So what really is a supplement known as ZMA?
What is ZMA?
ZMA (ZMA) is a synergistic combination of two minerals - zinc and magnesium. In addition to them, vitamin B6 is part of this natural supplement. The named substances are extremely important for the adequate course of most biological processes in human organisms. But as many observations show, almost 70 percent of the inhabitants of developed countries do not get enough zinc, and almost 40 percent of the adult population is deficient in magnesium. In addition, physical activity contributes to the active loss of minerals and vitamins, especially for weightlifters. A deficiency of zinc and magnesium are the biggest enemies on the way to beautiful muscles.
The combination of these chemicals has many advantages, including for muscles and the nervous system, and some researchers argue that the ZMA complex even contributes to the breakdown of fats.
The creation of this supplement is attributed to the founder of the sports club Balco Labs, Victor Conte. ZMA was developed as a special supplement for athletes to prevent a deficiency of minerals and vitamins in the body. It is believed that the original formula of ZMA is 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium and 10.5 mg of vitamin B6. And this is 200% of the daily intake of zinc, 113% magnesium and 525% vitamin B6. But why were these substances chosen for the complex?
Why zinc is needed
The human body does not provide a separate "storage" for zinc. But female and male organisms constantly need this mineral, since it has important functions. Zinc is important for maintaining the health of the immune system, it takes part in the process of creating new cells, is involved in metabolic processes with the participation of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The same mineral is indispensable for pregnant women, as well as for children during the period of active development.
Zinc is important for many chemical reactions in the body, including for the synthesis of protein and the maintenance of cellular energy. Its benefits to immunity are its ability to regulate T-cell production. It also provides the necessary liver protection, supports prostate health, and is indispensable for the healthy functioning of the reproductive organs.
A diet composed of meat, shellfish, dairy products, cereals and bread, as a rule, provides an adult with enough zinc. Experts say that the best sources of the mineral (with high bioavailability) are meat, eggs and seafood, which also contain the amino acids cysteine and methionine, which improve the absorption of the mineral. And in whole grain, in addition to zinc, phytic acid was found, which inhibits the absorption of the mineral.
But no matter how high the portions of the mineral in the products may be, however, this is not enough for bodybuilders and other athletes. For weightlifters, zinc plays a decisive role, since it is indispensable for protein synthesis - a process on which the restoration and growth of muscle mass directly depends.
The daily norm of zinc is 15 mg, but in sports supplements this substance, as a rule, contains more.
Why magnesium is needed
The body needs magnesium for normal growth and maintaining healthy bones, nervous system and muscles. Deficiency of this mineral can cause sleep cycle disturbance and cause insulin insensitivity. Biochemists say that magnesium contributes to more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. And this, you see, is already more than an important reason to prevent a deficiency of this mineral. By the way, healthy healthy adult men are advised to consume about 400 mg of magnesium daily.
As a rule, you can restore the reserves of this substance from green leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts and dairy foods. These products contain a sufficient amount of mineral. Enough, but not for people spending a few hours a day in the gym. Bodybuilders, heavyweights alone food sources of the mineral may not be enough. The only way to prevent magnesium deficiency is to take supplements.
Why do you need vitamin B6
Vitamin B6, which is also part of the ZMA complex, has several key functions. It promotes the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, and also participates in the formation of hemoglobin, which is necessary for the transport of oxygen to all cells of the body. Like other ZMA components (zinc, magnesium), vitamin B6 in the bodies of athletes does a lot of backstage work, so to speak: it supports the cardiovascular system, digestive organs, immunity, and promotes the health of the nervous and muscular systems. Interestingly, this vitamin promotes the production of hormones that affect mood (serotonin, norepinephrine), as well as melatonin, on which the work of the "internal clock" depends. But perhaps the most important reason why B6 appeared in the company of zinc and magnesium, was the fact that the vitamin helps the body more effectively absorb the named minerals. Natural sources of B6: sprouted cereals, bananas, salmon fillets, potatoes, turkey, chicken.
Why do I need an additive
Despite the fact that zinc, magnesium and B vitamins can be easily obtained from food, for people who regularly engage in sports, this is not enough. Through sweat and as a result of prolonged muscle contraction, athletes' organisms use up valuable substances faster and in large quantities. The researchers conducted an experiment: they measured the parameters of the two most important elements for bodybuilders, zinc and iron, in athletes' bodies before and after a 2-hour training (note that magnesium did not participate in this experiment, since it has a slightly different effect, and then its losses are not so great ) It turned out that iron loss in men was 3 percent, in women - 1 percent. Athletes lost even more zinc: men after 2 hours of intensive training lost 9% of the mineral, and women - 8%. And this once again confirmed: athletes, like no one else, need additional intake of zinc-containing additives. Although the importance of other nutrients can also not be reduced.
Advantages of ZMA:
- increases testosterone levels;
- promotes quick recovery after training and injuries;
- increases stamina;
- prevents muscle cramps;
- improves sleep.
ZMA and ...
Thanks to zinc, which contributes to the synthesis of protein, taking ZMA complex allows you to increase muscle mass. And in combination with magnesium, this process is much faster. By the way, of all the sports nutrition supplements designed to improve muscle growth, the ZMA complex is considered the safest.
During training, a catabolism reaction of muscles (proteins) occurs, as a result of which energy is released. This is an inevitable evil, so to speak. But another thing is obvious: the shorter the catabolism phase, the faster anabolism (muscle recovery) begins and the stronger the musculature becomes. The results of some studies have shown that the ZMA complex is able to dull the production of cortisol (catabolic hormone) and to increase the production of anabolic hormones by some measure. This discovery was made by German scientists after a 4-week observation of the triathletes. Then the validity of this conclusion was confirmed by Brazilian researchers.
Probably, many have heard that oysters are useful for increasing libido. What does oyster, libido and sex have to do with it, you ask. And despite the fact that oysters got their fame as an aphrodisiac product precisely because of the zinc contained in them. This substance is essential for the production of testosterone. And this hormone, in turn, is extremely important in bodybuilding. Studies have shown that the combination of "zinc - magnesium aspartate" is one of the most effective for increasing testosterone levels (almost 2.5 times compared with the placebo group).
Testosterone, known as the male hormone, is important for muscle development and bone density. It also affects red blood cell count and overall well-being. However, this so-called male hormone is also present in the bodies of women, and they also feel the benefit of the hormone, including when it comes to improving athletic performance. Testosterone inhibits the absorption of triglycerides and prevents the excessive accumulation of fat in the body. In addition, the researchers concluded that low levels of testosterone in the male body can cause the development of depression and other psycho-emotional disorders. Although too high a hormone usually causes increased aggression in behavior.
Men with low testosterone levels usually suffer from erectile dysfunction, but they also have a decrease in muscle mass. An increase in the concentration of this hormone can be useful for muscle growth, as well as a decrease in the percentage of fat in the body. By the way, the non-steroidal supplementation of ZMA can serve as a healthier alternative to hormonal drugs designed to regulate hormonal levels.
But not only zinc affects the levels of testosterone in the body. A number of studies have confirmed that magnesium also affects male hormone levels. Back in 2011, scientists found confirmation of this. Two groups of men took part in the scientific experiment: actively involved in sports and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Against the background of regular intake of magnesium supplements, testosterone levels increased in representatives of both groups. However, in athletes, researchers recorded a more marked increase in the hormone.
The fact that zinc strengthens the immune system, and its deficiency can prolong the period of the common cold, reduce appetite and cause muscle atrophy, is a repeatedly proven scientific fact. In contrast, supplementation with zinc-magnesium aspartate improves overall health. And this moment is very important for bodybuilders: training will be effective only with good health. Weak immunity and frequent illnesses will make regular visits to the gym impossible.
Scientists have determined that sports nutrition, in particular the ZMA complex, may be useful for the thyroid gland. ZMA components, for example, activate the production of thyroid hormones. Why is it so important for athletes? Because the hormones produced by the thyroid affect the metabolic rate, and ultimately the rate of muscle tissue growth and fat breakdown.
The complex of substances that make up ZMA improves night sleep. And for bodybuilders, this fact is much more important than it might seem at first glance. A healthy, proper sleep helps to restore strength after an intensive power program. As scientific tests have confirmed, the ZMA complex improves and prolongs the 3 and 4 stages of slow sleep. And these are the so-called phases of deep sleep, when the maximum recovery of the body occurs and the production of growth hormone is activated. Against the background of lack of sleep, it is possible to slow down the metabolism and impair immunity, which makes a person more vulnerable to infections and inflammations.
By the way, some studies have confirmed that improving sleep has a positive effect on athletic performance.
How ZMA Works
The most famous study using ZMA was conducted by American Dr. Lorry Brill. Under his supervision, 12 rugby players took an ZMA supplement every evening for 8 weeks. The result is an 11.6% increase in muscle strength and an almost 30 percent increase in testosterone levels.
Although there are results of other studies. In the United States, researchers observed 42 men (average age 27 years) who had been bodybuilding for at least a year. After 8 weeks of taking the supplement, scientists did not record any significant changes in their bodies. However, supporters of ZMA explained the results of this experiment by the fact that zinc, magnesium and testosterone levels were close to optimal in bodybuilders, and that’s why taking the supplement did not produce such noticeable results as men with mineral deficiencies.
Who needs to be taken
ZMA can significantly increase muscle strength and anabolic hormone levels. But despite the fact that the ZMA supplement was originally developed as a drug for athletes, people who do not play sports can benefit from it. In particular, ZMA can be useful for vegetarians, pregnant women, people with certain diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, people with diabetes, as well as for the elderly.
True, the appropriateness of taking and dosage of ZMA for these categories of people should be determined by the attending physician.
When and how to take
Most sports supplements are taken before or after a workout. However, in the case of ZMA, this rule does not work. As a rule, this supplement is drunk 30-60 minutes before bedtime. And thanks to this, you can count on a deeper sleep and natural muscle recovery.
ZMA is a natural product with a high level of safety. However, the regular use of large doses of minerals and vitamins can also be harmful to the body. If we talk about sports supplement ZMA, then due to the high level of zinc, in some individuals it can cause indigestion, nausea and even vomiting. Typically, the body’s reaction to excessive zinc intake occurs within 30 minutes after taking the drug.
Some scientists say that regular intake (for 10 years or more) of zinc in large portions (above 100 mg per day) can cause more serious consequences than indigestion.
Among the most serious potential dangers are called prostate cancer. And one more thing: regular consumption of large doses of zinc over time may require increasing portions of copper consumed. But an overdose of magnesium is most often manifested by diarrhea. Excessive accumulation of vitamin B6 can cause neurological disorders.
Combination with other substances
ZMA, like creatine, is used by bodybuilders to maximize training results. Creatine is an amino acid found in meat and fish. ZMA is a complex of zinc, magnesium aspartate, and sometimes some other components designed to stimulate the production of growth hormone in the body. The combination of both supplements is not only safe, but also beneficial for weightlifters. But taking both substances, it is important to follow the rules, since the method of application for each of them provides for some features. So, creatine is important to drink before training, and ZMA is consumed before bedtime.
A combination of ZMA + casein also gives good results. By the way, this milk protein is also best taken before bedtime.
In addition, it is important to know that ZMA is not combined with certain antibiotics (tetracycline, levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, enoxacin, norfloxacin and others).
And further. Refined sugar and white flour products also help lower blood levels of magnesium and zinc. Calcium-rich foods inhibit the absorption of these minerals by the intestinal walls. In addition, copper and foods rich in phytates (phosphorus compounds found in whole grain bread, cereals, legumes) also impair zinc absorption. Another banned product is alcohol.Alcohol reduces the absorption of zinc and magnesium and increases the excretion of minerals in the urine.
How to use ZMA: useful practical tips
There are several simple rules that can significantly improve the results of consuming ZMA supplements.
- Magnesium should be in the form of magnesium aspartate. This is the most suitable form for absorption by the body.
- Experts have calculated the best formulas of ZMA for men and women. The optimal mineral and vitamin complex for men is 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium and 10-11 mg of B6. The composition of the complex for women: 20 mg of zinc, 300 mg of magnesium, 6-7 mg of B6.
- An overdose of zinc can have a negative effect on the immune system and disrupt the metabolic rate, which in the end will have a bad effect on muscle recovery and reduce the level of good cholesterol. More than 450 mg of magnesium per day is fraught with impaired healthy sleep. Conclusion: do not independently adjust the composition of the ZMA complex.
- Take ZMA preferably 1-2 hours after eating and about an hour before bedtime. Such a program will not only maximize the absorption of minerals, but also improve the quality of sleep.
- For an optimal set of muscle mass, it’s good to make a sports nutrition program of several supplements:
- testosterone booster (ZMA);
- casein and gainer (whey protein);
- Omega substances.
Forms of release, description and method of application of some ZMA
As a rule, ZMA supplement is presented in the form of capsules on the market; the drug is not found in liquid form. It is usually sold in specialized sports nutrition stores. Some novice athletes strive to buy separately ZMA components at the pharmacy and independently prepare the supplement. However, more experienced ones do not advise doing this for several reasons. Firstly, magnesium in ZMA is presented in a special form of “magnesium aspartate”. And secondly, it is important to observe the correct dosage. The harm and benefits of the complex in full measure depends on the observance of proportions, and at home this is very difficult to achieve.
And now it's time to pay attention to what the market offers us.
Sleep Max (Maxler) is a sports nutrition for increasing testosterone and activating growth factor. The formula of the drug consists of a ZMA complex, melatonin, as well as extracts of passionflower and ginkgo biloba. Designed for women and men over 18 years old. Proper administration of the drug provides strong muscles, quick recovery, deep sleep, and the health of the nervous and endocrine systems. Release form - 90 capsules.
The Weider complex is a capsule whose chemical composition is represented by the classic ZMA, L-tyrosine and sodium. This product appeared on the market of sports supplements not so long ago. The manufacturer presents it as a sportspit for muscle building and quick recovery, allows you to fill in reliefless muscles, suitable for men and women with different physiques. Instructions for use suggest taking 3 capsules at night for at least 8 weeks. In the package - 90 capsules.
Popular is the supplement from the well-known manufacturer of sports nutrition Mutant. Mutant Core Series offers capsules created according to the classic formula: zinc - magnesium aspartate - vitamin B6. The drug regulates the anabolic hormonal level and quality of sleep.
Flual Twinlab's ZMA is 90 capsules in which the manufacturer has combined protein, zinc, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6. Designed for men and women to improve athletic performance, and men over 45 years old - as a means to increase testosterone. It can be taken before meals or at bedtime.
The classic Vitamin and Mineral Kit is Optimum Nutrition's ZMA. The supplement is intended for male and female athletes. However, before taking it, it is important to read the instructions: there is a difference in dosage for men and women.
ZMA Tribulus Pro 90 caps - a mineral supplement for novice athletes and professional bodybuilders. Tribulus is equally suitable for athletes involved in strength training and aerobic training.
This is only a small part of the range of sports food. Which of the proposed products to choose is up to each athlete to decide.
The main thing is that the drug is of high quality, from a trusted manufacturer, and also do not forget to observe the dosage and time of taking the drug.
Around ZMA many errors have developed. Although in fact, this supplement is a non-doping testosterone booster. She, like tribulus or ecdysterone, naturally regulates the hormonal background, activating muscle growth. And this, perhaps, is the minimum that everyone needs to know about the ZMA complex.