ZMA for Improved Athletic Performance and Improved Sleep

ZMA supplementation has gained popularity in the Indian subcontinent as well as the world. Let’s know through this article, what exactly is ZMA and how it may add to your athletic performance, boost immune system and improve sleep. Also know, how and what quantity it should be taken.

ZMA is a popular supplement among athletes, bodybuilders and fitness freaks. It contains a combination of three major ingredients – zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. ZMA manufacturers claim that it boosts muscle growth, strength and improves endurance, recovery and sleep quality. However, the research backing all the claims is not sufficient yet. There are still known benefits and side effects of the same, which the users have observed.

What is ZMA?

It is a popular supplement that typically contains the following:

  • Zinc Monomethionine: 30 mg – 270% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Magnesium Aspartate: 450 mg – 110% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): 10-11 mg – 650% of the RDI

However, some of manufacturers produce ZMA supplements with alternative forms of Zinc and Magnesium, or with other added vitamins or minerals.

These nutrients play several key roles in your body:

Zinc: This trace mineral is necessary for more than 300 enzymes involved in metabolism, digestion, immunity, and other areas of your health.

Magnesium: This mineral supports hundreds of chemical reactions in your body, including energy creation and muscle and nerve function.

Vitamin B6: This water-soluble vitamin is needed for processes such as making neurotransmitters and nutrient metabolism.

Makers of ZMA claim that increasing your levels of these three nutrients can help increase testosterone levels, aid exercise recovery, improve sleep quality, and build muscle strength.

However, the research behind ZMA in some of these areas is mixed and still under process. That said, consuming more zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 may provide many other benefits, such as improved immunity, blood sugar control, and mood. This especially applies if you are deficient in one or more of the aforementioned nutrients.

ZMA and Athletic Performance

ZMA supplements are claimed to enhance athletic performance and build muscle. In theory, ZMA may enhance these factors in those who are deficient in zinc and magnesium. A deficiency in either of these mineral may reduce your production of testosterone, a hormone that affects muscle mass, as well as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a hormone that effects cell growth and recovery.

In addition to this, many athletes may have low zinc and magnesium levels, which can compromise on their performance. Lower zinc and magnesium levels may be the result of strict diets or losing more zinc and magnesium through sweat or urination. Currently, only a few studies have looked into whether ZMA can improve athletic performance.

Benefits of ZMA supplements

Studies on ZMA’s individual components suggest that the supplement may offer several benefits. Some of the most common ones are:

May Boost Immunity

Zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 play key roles in your immune health. For example, zinc is essential for the development and function of many immune cells. In fact, supplementing with this mineral may reduce your risk of infections and aid wound healing.

Meanwhile, magnesium deficiency has been linked to chronic inflammation, which is key driver of aging and chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. Conversely, taking magnesium supplements may reduce markers of inflammation including C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6)

On the other hand, vitamin B6 deficiency has been linked to poor immunity. Your immune system requires vitamin B6 to produce bacteria-fighting white blood cells, and it enhances their ability to battle infection and inflammation.

May Aid Blood Sugar Control

Zinc and magnesium may help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels. It is found that supplementing with zinc lowered HbA1c – a marker for long term blood sugar levels – to an extent similar to that of metformin, a popular diabetes drug.

May Help in Improving Sleep

The combination of zinc and magnesium may improve your sleep quality. Research suggests that magnesium helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for helping your body feel calm and relaxed. Meanwhile supplementing with zinc has been linked to improved sleep quality in both human and animal studies.

May Elevate Mood

Magnesium and vitamin B6, both of which are found in ZMA, may help elevate your mood. One study in approximately 8,900 adults found that those under the age of 65 with the lowest magnesium intake had a 22% higher risk of developing depression!

ZMA dosage and recommendations

ZMA can purchased online and in health food and supplement stores. It’s available in several forms, including capsule or powdered. The typical dosage recommendations for the nutrients in ZMA are as follows:

  • Zinc Monomethionine: 30 mg – 270% of the RDI
  • Magnesium Aspartate: 450 mg – 110% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 10-11 mg – 650% of the RDI

This is typicallyls advise women to take two capsules or two scoops of powder. Avoid taking more than the recommended dose, as too much zinc may cause side effects. Supplement labels often advise taking ZMA on an empty stomach about 30-60 minutes before bed. This prevents nutrients like zinc from interacting with others such as calcium.

ZMA Side Effects

At present, no side effects have been reported related to supplementing with ZMA. However, ZMA provides moderate-to-high doses of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6. When taken in high doses, these nutrients may have side effects, including:

Zinc: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, copper deficiency, headaches, dizziness, nutrient deficiencies, and reduced immune function.

Magnesium: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps

Vitamin B6: Nerve damage and pain or numbness in the hands or feet.

Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be an issue if you don’t exceed the dose listed on the label.

Conclusion

ZMA is a nutritional supplement that contains zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6, It may improve athletic performance, but current research shows mixed results. Moreover, there is no evidence that ZMA can help you lose weight. However, its individual nutrients may provide health benefits, such as improving blood sugar control, mood, immunity, and sleep quality.

This especially applies if you have deficiency in one or more of the nutrients contained in ZMA supplements.

Reference

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29295546

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22515411

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30068354

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16670691

About The Author

Rajul Tiwari

Rajul Tiwari is the Editor-in-Chief at bodyandstrenth.com and has 18 years of experience in media, content, publishing and education. She has worked with media houses like Daini.... Read More..

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