Does ZMA Work

Does ZMA Work

You might be surprised to know that ZMA (which is Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate) has become one of the hot topics nowadays. Also, there are innumerable debates on whether it has a positive or negative impact on the growth of the muscles and the production of testosterone. Frankly, there are multiple studies which prove the pros and cons of the debate and whether it is legitimate.

Does ZMA Really Work or Is It a Bogus?

Most sports physio feel that magnesium and zinc are the two major micronutrients which many of the athletes have deficiency in. These micronutrients are lost by athletes when they sweat a lot and that too at a high rate. Using ZMA, sports players can get the required magnesium and zinc levels which are necessary and recommended.

Now Zinc is very much important for supporting the required testosterone levels and even assists in increasing ones’ health, immune, etc. While the magnesium helps in supporting the functions of the nerves and muscles, which are necessary to produce energy. If you check out a typical ZMA supplement, it will be containing 200% of the daily value of zinc, 525% of the daily required Vitamin B6 and 113% of the daily required magnesium.

No doubt, ZMA supplies more than the necessary amount of magnesium and zinc, but one must really understand the necessity of vitamin B6. There are tons of advantages that vitamin B6 provides, and this consist of forming the red blood cells. This helps in providing oxygen to the body’s muscles and assist in promoting endurance. For athletes, they need a huge amount of red blood cells.

Working of ZMA or Why It Is Necessary

Like other body supplements, ZMA helps both women and men in increasing their strength level and provides a lot of energy for lifting and provides a good amount of result while you are spending a lot of time in the gym. There are many people who use it, and even clinical studies show that.

How ZMA Was Developed?

The ZMA supplement was created in a lab located in California and it has been in the market for many years. In addition, it got a huge reputation for assisting bodybuilders in getting bigger and better muscles, and most of the products which are associated with it have got good reviews. However, there are studies which test it displays less signs that it works and the only test which provides a positive result are sponsored by firms that are affiliated with product. This is not a good sign.

Claim Proving ZMA Is Good?

There are various generalized claims that manufacturers state related to ZMA and these say that you will feel stronger and have tighter muscles while taking it, thereby helping you lift more lifts in the gym and thereby providing you a bigger muscles. Keep in mind that not all kinds of claims that you come across can be true. There are various brands which don’t make any huge claims and there is other that say all kinds of things which even consist of improving endurance, assisting your muscles to heal, and getting good amount of sleep.

What Is the Hype Associated With ZMA?

Many bodybuilders have various methods of hyping a product and if anyone who is bulkier starts to endorse a product, then it will set off a chain reaction. This will help others to try the same for getting the same results. Frankly, there aren’t any ad campaigns or infomercials associated to it. Hence, it gets spread by word of mouth which easily advertise into the weightlifting community.

This leads to a huge hype and when your trainer or gym instructor recommends it, it gets you hooked on and even when you hear it from one of the biggest and strongest guys in the gym who use it.

Is ZMA Expensive or Affordable?

It is very difficult to say that ZMA are affordable as the cost varies by brand. You can easily find some for around $16 or $22 as most brands fall into this range. Also, the amount of pills you get will vary too. Therefore, it is better if you can double check on the kind of deal that you might be getting.

Usage Recommended

It is or you can say the recommended instruction regarding using ZMA is that one must take it before bed, thereby meaning that it is easy to use. Keep in mind that you need to continue using it for a long time as you might want to experience the required results. If you stop taking it, your body will flush out substance from your system. Now the side effects of the ZMA are quite concerning and this is quite evident compared to the ones taken by other bodybuilding and muscle gaining or developing supplements.

Why ZMA Is Taken Before Going to Bed? What Is the Crazy Dream Issue?

Basically, the right time to take the supplement is either before workout or after workout. However, the ZMA should be taken 40 to 80 minutes before bedtime. Now doctors feel that the reason is because of the magnesium content present. Magnesium can make individuals groggy and is given to people who have trouble in sleeping.

Hence, the question you might have on your mind is why many people consume ZMA and get vivid and freaky dreams. Researchers aren’t quite sure about it, but they feel that it has to do with the high dosage of Vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 will have a great amount of effect on the individual’s ability to recall their dream the next day. There isn’t any required research to prove this conclusion. Of course, there have been various studies which prove and support it but, in those cases, the test subjects were given about 250 mg of dosage of Vitamin B6, and they were easily able to recall the dream they had the next day.

In addition, there are various ZMA users who complained about stomach upset and this is often caused to the high dosage of magnesium. Studies have shown that high amount of magnesium can risk one’s health and lead to high stomach upset, if you take a whole lot of the ZMA supplement at one rather than taking divided or small dosage.

Taking ZMA – Who Might Need Them?

Some people consume a well-balanced diet and have the regular amounts of vitamins and minerals. Also, their level of zinc and magnesium is what is prescribed, such individuals won’t need to consume the ZMA supplements for increasing their performance and health. Athletes and sports individuals must check on what they consume.

Since they do a lot of physical activity, they need to ensure that they have sufficient energy and moreover, not everything needs to be solved by taking supplements. If these athletes are having the required food containing the necessary nutrients, then the requirement of the ZMA or you can say that ZMA won’t be necessary. Once you reach a certain level of nutrition, the ideal of having a huge amount of zinc and magnesium in the diet seems bleak.

Having magnesium in your diet naturally isn’t harmful and doesn’t need to be limited. For healthy people, their kidney does a great job of removing magnesium from the urine. However, you need to ensure that magnesium in medications and supplements mustn’t be consumed in huge amounts especially more than the required number, unless they are prescribed by your doctor or physician.

If you have deficiency in zinc or magnesium, then taking ZMA will improve and kick your performance as your body gets the necessary nutrients and even assists in operating your body efficiently. Many medical practitioner and physicians feel that young athletes have low amount of magnesium and zinc, and they aren’t aware of it. This is because of unbalanced diet and as they sweat a lot compared to non-athletes.

Now before you try the ZMA, you need to make the effort to have more magnesium and zinc in your diet. Food items like beef, oysters, and cashews have high amount of zinc in them, whereas brown rice, raw spinach, and soybeans have high amount of magnesium in them. Selecting the right kind of food will assist in getting the necessary results which you want and that too without causing any kind of unnecessary and unwanted dreams or making your stomach bad.

Food Items Rich in Magnesium And Zinc

It is common to lose magnesium and zinc when you urinate or sweat a lot. However, this loss is simply temporary. At times, certain individuals will have low amount of magnesium as they are on the medications (like proton pump inhibitors) or if they are usually alcohol. Now the best way to replenish these minerals is from the food that you consume.

Almonds, spinach, whole grains, cashews, beans, etc have good amount of magnesium. Red meat, oysters, and poultry have good amount of zinc. Fruits, fish, potatoes, and other kinds of starchy food will provide the body with necessary B6.

Benefits & Side Effects Of ZMA

Before starting on the benefits of the ZMA and its side effects, it is good to know that you shouldn’t take ZMA if you are getting good amount of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 from the diet. Sometimes, they can be chances that it might be harmful.

Is Zinc Harmful?

Yes! If you are getting more of it, then it is bad. Too much of zinc will lead to vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, loss of appetite, headache, and diarrhoea. Now when individuals take a huge amount of zinc for a long period of time, it will lead to issues like lower immunity, copper levels, and even low levels of HDL cholesterol (i.e., good cholesterol). Above it, there is a huge amount of risk involved in kidney and stomach damage.

Most physicians or doctors state that the daily limit of zinc is about 40mg, so you need to ensure that the ZMA must be within these parameters. However, you need to keep in mind that this limit will consist of zinc from the diet, and not the common supplements. If you are having deficient in the zinc, then ZMA won’t hurt you.

Advantages Of Zinc

Various research and studies show that individuals get a whole lot of benefits from getting required level of zinc. The following are some of them – 

  • Antioxidant properties
  • Increasing immunity
  • Improving hearth health and circulation
  • Increasing fertility and testosterone
  • Assist in growing and repairing muscle tissue

Side Effects of Having A Lot Of Magnesium

You need to keep in mind that the ratio of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 must be proper and they have a great significance. And the ZMA that you are using must ensure that the limit or the proper ratio is achieved.

Magnesium present naturally in food isn’t that harmful and doesn’t need to be controlled. People who are healthy, their kidney will get rid of the excess magnesium through urine. However, you need to keep in mind that magnesium in the form of medications and dietary supplements shouldn’t be taken in the amounts more than required until they are recommended by health providers and doctors. 

There aren’t any kind of health risks involved in the RDA on magnesium and you can use the ZMA which is the product used for active people who use the extra amount in the dosage for their health. However, active individuals must eat more, and they need to ingest more through their diet. Some people who are misinformed assume that eating and exercise is nothing or you can say isn’t the best method of losing weight. 

The symptoms of having excess magnesium are the following – 

  • Respiratory distress
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Urine retention
  • Low blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrest 


There is no harm in taking ZMA. But getting excess of magnesium and zinc can be risky for your heath. One must always keep a check on the amount of zinc and magnesium he or she consumes each day, and it needs to be in the required count or balance. Hence, if you are really planning to use the ZMA, it is recommended to consult your physician or doctor. Unless you are advised to take by a health expert, it is good if you are in the ZMA supplement diet.


Saravavan Nadarajan (Vanan)

Vanan, fitness expert and leader at EzFit Singapore, specializes in holistic training—home-based, boot camps, and corporate fitness—with over a decade of industry experience.