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Supplements: ZMA

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Oct 5, 2016 10:00:00 AM

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Supplements: ZMA

This is a quick look at Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate or ZMA. A formula developed by Victor Conte which benefits of higher testosterone levels and quicker strength gains by providing better REM sleep are being doubted most recently as the supporting studies have been conducted by owners of ZMA patents. I am no doctor, so please always consult before deciding to take or not to take supplements.

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What is ZMA ?

ZMA is the short version of Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate. The original formula which was developed by Victor Conte contains 30mg of monomethionine and aspartate, 450mg of magnesium aspartate and 10.5mg of vitamin B6. ZMA claims to raise strength levels and enhance hormonal profiles, especially testosterone, by enabling deeper levels of REM sleep and is therefore used as a recovery aid for athletes. Namely, NFL stars Brye Paup, Stephen Davis, Lester Archambeau and bodybuilders Flex wheeler & Michael Ashley have come forward with positive statementsFlex wheeler & Michael Ashley have come forward with positive statements about the product relating it to enhanced performance.

It should be taken 30 - 60 minutes before sleep and not be supplemented alongside calcium, as it cancels the effects. ZMA is a registered trademark of SNAC Nutrition and costs between 20 - 50€ for ninety capsules depending on the make and brand you are getting.

Based on what I could gather the main claims of benefit can be traced back to a study conducted at Western Washington University in 1998 which claimed 43.7% higher testosterone levels and 25% greater IGF-1 levels, as well as a 2.5 times greater strength increase than a placebo group. These results could not be reproduced in studies which were conducted in 2004 and 2006. Furthermore was the original study sponsored and conducted by a group of people who had an invested interest in a positive outcome due to owning a patent on ZMA.

As a result, the International Society of Sports Nutrition has declared ZMA's effect on muscle building as "not known" which is further underpinned by the Australian Institute of Sports stating that there is a lack of proof for the benefits of ZMA.

What are the risks of ZMA ?

The risk of ZMA, as with many dietary supplements, are based on taking too much in and can be:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Lowering body's immunity
  • Lowering levels of HDL


What are alternatives to ZMA ?

  • bananas
  • nuts
  • shredded wheat
  • brown rice
  • milk
  • spinach
  • swiss chard
  • fortified cereal
  • bananas
  • salmon
  • potatoes
  • chicken
  • turkey


All in all the main ingredient in ZMA is Zinc. Zinc is better researched and cheaper than ZMA. Therefore I personally think based on what I have read and seen, I think you will get the same, if not better results by only supplementing Zinc. The best source I found in a quick resource mainly related the benefits of ZMA to the extra Zinc that you are taking in by referring to studies about Zinc. The fact that ZMA is patented and pricey smells like  another stab of the supplement industry to make something more complicated than it needs to be to make money. Whenever an article talks about "the right formula which can not be replicated by diet intake" i get very suspicious (because that means you have to buy the patented formuöla x by company y which can be filled in a bottle, branded and sold to you). 

That you might not be getting the same benefit from Zinc when taken in a multivitamin as calcium cancels the effects out might be true and can be easily tested by yourself by getting off your multivitamin and swapping it for a Zinc only supplement and measure the results. 90 capsules for 35.99€ also buys a lot of the mentioned natural alternatives. I just bought 6 "fancy" salmon fillets at Tesco from the fresh stand for 21.35€. Get some nuts and spinach with it and you should be fine for the week.


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Topics: Supplements